Having a date night with kids is possible without going to a fast-food restaurant. Preparing your kids for a fine-dining atmosphere takes some effort, but eventually, you will have a family experience to bond over while your child gets to enjoy quality food in a different atmosphere.
Your child absorbs experiences like a sponge. The more activities you do with your little one, the more they will learn about the world. Eventually, all children will need to learn how to behave at a fine-dining restaurant, and starting them young in this habit makes it easier. A couple of other benefits of bringing your child to a fine-dining restaurant include:
- Trying new foods can help a child avoid pickiness. What better way to have your child taste different foods than by going to a restaurant? Chefs spend years studying how to make the dishes on their menu as tasty as possible. So, your child will have something palatable on their first taste of a different recipe. Not all kids’ menus serve the same chicken fingers and hot dogs. Many fine-dining restaurants give your kid child-sized portions of foods they may not try elsewhere.
- A fine-dining establishment gives your child the ultimate trial in behaving in a location with many distractions. From other diners to the waiters and the food, a child may have a tough time focusing on anything, even parental instructions. If you show your child how to behave in this environment, though, you will have a little one who can follow your directions anywhere.
10 Ways to Enjoy Date Night at a Restaurant With Kids
While it can be nice to have a night out for grown-ups only from time to time, kids enjoy being included in date night, too. Everyone at the table will get the opportunity to enjoy great food, a fun atmosphere and interesting conversations with each other. To ensure everyone has an enjoyable time, you need to know how to keep kids occupied at a restaurant. Here are 10 tips to help you and your child through the experience of dining out.
- Find Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Naples, Florida
When choosing a place for your kids among quality restaurants in Naples, you need to find a balance between adult accommodations and kid-friendliness. First, not all fine-dining places offer menus for kids. While your child may be able to order off the regular menu, the amount of food may be too much for their smaller stomach. If you can find a restaurant that offers a kids’ menu, you will be more likely to find friendlier accommodations for your child than at a restaurant that lacks this option.
Also, consider the care put into the children’s menu. If the restaurant has standard fast-food fare like hamburgers and chicken fingers with few other options, the facility probably did not put much thought into what kids like. Fun restaurants for kids will have exciting kids’ menus that have food you would want to eat as an adult, while still appealing to your child’s developing palate.
A casual atmosphere also helps when eating out. Your child may feel more uncomfortable in a formal restaurant. Luckily, USS Nemo has a relaxed air while offering upscale food. You won’t have to give up quality dining for a laid-back atmosphere that is kid-friendly.
- Practice Dining at Home
At home, have your child behave at the dinner table the same way you want them to at a public restaurant. Regularly practicing this behavior will help your child continue the same actions when dining out.
Teach your child to use a quieter voice and to patiently wait for food when at the table. Keep things your child would not see at a restaurant away from the dining room at home. For example, turn off the TV and keep the tablet and smartphone away. Without these distractions, your child will need to learn how to occupy their mind and control their body, even while waiting for food.
You can make the wait easier for your child, though, by choosing the timing of when you visit the restaurant.
- Make Reservations for an off Time
The timing of your outing will make a difference in the outcome. If possible, choose a reservation time well before your child’s typical dinner time. Travel to the restaurant and the wait for food after ordering should factor into the decision. Plan a reservation at least 30 minutes before your child typically eats. By the time the food arrives, your child will hopefully be hungry, but not so much so that they’re irritable.
Another timing tip for dining out requires looking at the restaurant’s busiest times. Choose off-peak hours such as those before or after the lunch or dinner rush to bring your child to the restaurant. The kitchen will be less likely to delay getting your food out, and there will be fewer other diners in the restaurant to distract your child.
When choosing a dining time, make sure it does not coincide with your child’s regular nap time. Scheduling a new experience when your child is already tired will only lead to tears. Your child will fight the urge to fall asleep, making them cranky and more prone to misbehaving or loudly fussing. If possible, have dinner after your child’s nap so that they will feel rested.
Restaurants always appreciate knowing about your child when you make reservations, especially if you need a table close to a door, a highchair or any other special requests. Let us know if you’re dining with your kids, and we’ll do what we can to accommodate you.
- Discuss Your Expectations Before You Go
Before going out to a restaurant, sit down with your child and talk about your expectations. Explain the type of manners you want your child to use at the table, which hopefully you have been practicing as a family. Discuss that your child cannot run or scream in a restaurant and have them think of reasons why, if they’re old enough to. By having your child think about others, you can help them develop a sense of understanding.
Make the discussion part of your daily meals. Explain that behavior at the table is very different from on the playground, for example. Practicing good manners at home will make this discussion of expectations with your child easier because you can integrate that you expect the same good behavior both at home and when dining out.
- Know What to Order for Your Child Ahead of Time
If possible, check out the kids’ menu before you go to the restaurant. That way, you can place your child’s order with the drink order. If your child does not have to wait as long to get food, they will likely be less restless and fussy. Be ready to have something for your child to do if they finish eating before everyone else, though.
You might try having your child choose something they have never tasted before but that is familiar enough for them to try. For example, our kids’ menu goes beyond the standard chicken fingers and hamburgers, though we do offer those, too. We offer healthy choices like steamed shrimp, broiled sea bass and grilled salmon. Our kids’ menu also includes mini-woks and a variety of pasta. For dessert, order your child fresh fruit or choose a kid-sized coconut cream pie.
Appetizers arrive at the table before the main dishes. We have edamame, vegetable sticks and fresh fruit as appetizers for kids to keep their hands and minds busy until the main course arrives. Ordering appetizers for your child is one way to make it easier to manage the experience of dining out.
Life happens, and even the best-planned meals can get delayed. Restaurant kitchens can encounter backups. You may get stuck in traffic, or your child may feel especially hungry. To avoid problems in these situations, have a small snack with you to tide your child over until their food arrives. Don’t tell your child about the food you have because they may want to eat that and lose their appetite for dinner. Use the snack only as a backup option if the meal has a delay getting to your child.
- Bring Distractions
When it comes to keeping your kids occupied at a restaurant, the job is up to you. Bring crayons and paper for your child to color with. Stay away from tablets or smartphones because these can make too much noise and keep your child’s mind distracted from their food.
Having crayons and paper or an activity book can occupy your child until the food arrives. If your little one starts to complain of boredom, think of ways they can get creative. Have them draw a new character or imagine a favorite dish. Older children may be able to draw and write a story about their adventures dining out. You want your child to engage in the activity and stay as quiet as possible.
- Engage in Conversation With Your Child
During the meal, keep your child engaged with conversation. Talking to your child while eating makes the experience a positive memory in their mind, and this can help encourage excellent behavior. If you treat your child like an adult at the restaurant, their actions should follow.
If your child starts to misbehave, talk to them again about your expectations. Remind them of the reasons they came up with for why they shouldn’t act up at a restaurant. You may help them better understand how their actions affect those around them.
Remember, when talking to your child, keep your voice low to avoid disturbing other diners. While addressing misbehavior feels frustrating, getting angry or speaking loudly will only escalate the situation. If you need to, take your child to the bathroom or outside to discipline them.
- Walk Around
For a restless child still waiting for food, walk with them around the restaurant. Be careful to avoid waiters in their duties and other diners. Some restaurants have attractive visuals a child may want to see up close. You may experience this at USS Nemo, where our nautical theme has even adults interested in our décor.
Getting away from the table will allow your little one to look at the restaurant’s displays while helping them to use some of their excess energy until the food arrives. If during your walk, your child becomes overly excited, take them outside for a few minutes to cool off before returning to the table. The time you made for the walk also reduces the time your child has to wait idly at the table for the food.
- Have a Plan B
Kids can be unpredictable. Even with all the planning and preparation possible, your little one may not be capable of staying at a restaurant for an entire meal. Whether they’re fussy, tired or too unruly, request the check and leave early if you must. While it’s never ideal, having a backup plan to go and try at a later date will make you and your little one feel more relaxed during the dining experience.
- Keep at It
Practice makes perfect. Even if you practice dining at home, the situation changes at a restaurant. The more your child goes out to eat, the more comfortable dining will become for your whole family. Don’t give up if you have had one unfulfilling experience. Keep practicing. Your child will see your tenacity and learn a valuable lesson in never giving up.
Fine-dining can become a well-loved ritual for your family, but you need to prepare your child for the activity. With regular exposure to upscale eating environments, your child will eventually adapt to the behavior expectations you establish.
Make Reservations at USS Nemo Today
Let us take care of dinner for you tonight. You can skip the planning, cooking and cleaning up after the meal and just enjoy a fantastic night out with your family. Our menu covers a variety of tastes and diets, including vegetarian.
We also love kids. Our kids’ menu includes favorites like steak, fish fingers and mini-woks. With these tasty offerings and our submarine-themed restaurant, your kids will love our restaurant, too.
Make your reservations for a table either in our dining area or outside on the patio. You can relax with our comforting, flavorful menu items in a casually elegant atmosphere. Where else in Naples can you have such an experience with the whole family? Nowhere but at USS Nemo.