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Eating Out with Kids: How to Turn the Potential Nightmare into a Fun Adventure


NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia January, 2013 – Although there are advantages to eating at home with kids, especially when feeding fussy eaters, eating out with kids can help develop social skills for children, and provide an opportunity for parents to teach them manners and how to behave outside the home. And sometimes, most importantly – dining out with kids is often necessary for parents to feel ‘normal’ and avoid being stuck in the kitchen yet another night. However, many parents who arrive at their chosen restaurant for a night out end up leaving more exhausted than when they arrived after chasing children around and a few narrowly-avoided accidents with waiters.

Author, Mumpreneur and Multi-task Master Joanne Turner had the same problems managing family mealtimes so she consulted food and children experts – ranging from qualified dietician, adult and infant nutritionist Dr Kate Di Prima to Masterchef’s George Calombaris – and wrote a book to help other parents manage family mealtimes and eat together as a family more often.

To make dining out with kids a more relaxed experience for both children and adults, parents can call ahead to ask the restaurant what times it is less crowded and make a reservation for those times – so children are less distracted by other diners and parents can keep a closer eye on them without leaving their seats.

According to Mealtimes without Mayhem, parents should discuss with their kids that when dining out, the same good behaviour rules apply despite the different circumstances. For parents to expect good behaviour from the children while dining out, it is necessary that the children understand what good behaviour at the table means and how to behave accordingly. When children get somewhat restless, other forms of stimulation can be provided such as playing a game of cards that parents have brought with them to the restaurant.

Lyndey Milan, featured in Mealtimes without Mayhem, comments, “While at the restaurant, keep your children in their seats as much as possible, as wandering children may trip waiters with full trays or they could be burnt by a hot plate of food. If it turns out they are not coping with the environment, it’s best to pack up and head home with a view to trying another time, rather than sticking to your guns and upsetting those around you.”

This essential guidebook for parents also suggests parents speak in  full sentences with children at the table and avoiding baby talk. When dining out with kids, this is a great time to catch up on the day’s events and see what’s going on with each family member without the added stress of preparing the meal – so enjoy it!

Whether eating at home or dining out with the kids, teaching them proper dining etiquette is a must to avoid embarrassment in a range of settings. Children need to understand what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour at the dinner table. Although eating out with kids can be much more challenging than eating at home – it is also important to expose them to different circumstances so they learn the critical life-long lesson of how to apply learnings in different situations.

‘Mealtimes without Mayhem’ is a resource-packed guidebook for parents on how to cope when dining out with kids and what to do when at home to ensure each family gets quality time together. Mealtimes without Mayhem is available online now at


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 Dining out with kids
 Feeding fussy eaters
 Eating at home with kids
 Eating out with children

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