The first time my wife and I took our newborn to a restaurant, time seemingly stood still. Sweet elderly ladies “oohed” and “aahed” over our little bundle of joy. Waitresses stopped by our table to take a peek, amazed by his long eyelashes and quiet manner. Heck, even a few rough-looking grown men—the type you don’t want to cross—cracked a smile.
It was, in one word, “wonderful.”
Fast forward two years, and restaurant visits were no longer the highlight of our week. Yes, our son, Graham, was still precious, but instead of sleeping, he was randomly putting pepper shakers in his mouth. Instead of calmly drinking a bottle, he was stubbornly tossing macaroni on the floor, wondering why Mommy and Daddy were stressed and the people at the next table were laughing. Then there was the time when we ordered our food and he immediately began pitching a fit. Unable to calm him, we boxed up all of our food, hopped in the car and drove home.
Not every instance with our then-2-year-old son was taxing, but there were enough tough moments that we began evaluating what we could do better to make visits to restaurants more enjoyable.
My family views “eating out” much the way people viewed meals during Jesus’ life—as a time of leisurely fun and fellowship. We’re not there simply to eat. We’re there to talk and enjoy one another.
So, can a family of small children eat out regularly without chaos ensuing? Yes.
Here are a few tips that helped us … and may help you, too: