Reader Question: How Do I Get My Kids To Behave At Restaurants?

In 2017 at Commander’s Palace

The most commonly asked question I get from parents is “how do I make my kids behave at a restaurant?” There isn’t a magic pill. This takes consistency and lots of grace. When I first started taking my kids out to eat. I made up my mind to be prepared mentally and emotionally to leave at any point where my kids disrupted another diner. Of course, I always make sure to not put my kids in situations that are selfish, such as having them out too late. Last year at ages 3 and 5 we were able to enjoy a very nice, long meal at Commander’s Palace with my mom. My daughter understood that eating there was very special and a treat. This is not to toot my own horn. This is simply what has worked for us and for others. I promise you, it has not been easy from the beginning. When they aren’t accustomed to something like eating at a restaurant, they won’t inherently know how to behave. It has taken consistency in my expectations and sticking to my guns if something happened. Thankfully, it hasn’t in years. Enjoying a meal out is not a right that we are given, so having respect and courtesy for others is important. Here are a few tips that have worked over the years:

(1) Let them know your expectations upfront. I would always let my kids know what the plan was and what was expected of them. We didn’t eat in front of the tv every night and then magically expect them to know how to act at a table. I would go over basic table etiquette with them so they would become more comfortable using it, such as using a spoon or fork instead of their hands.
(2) Be consistent. Just like in a restaurant, we don’t allow yelling or crying at the table. If they’re frustrated, they may tell us why. We also have them place their napkins on their laps. By practicing at home, it is a more natural transition for them to use these techniques in public.
(3) Be realistic. Don’t expect your 18-month old baby to be okay sitting still and quiet for three hours at a fancy restaurant. For your first time out, ask for a to-go box at the start, if that makes you more comfortable. If your child is old enough to talk, point out all of the fun colors and build up this experience for them. Once you consistently see the results you want, you can incorporate something new, like dining in the evening.
BONUS TIP: Be prepared. This is especially necessary if you’re going out to eat during a busy time. Take a board book, colors or silent toy to keep your child occupied. Also, it’s okay for those who are little (think under four-years old) to have a snack brought from home if things are too busy, such as puffs. If you bring something for them to eat, have everything you need. Don’t ask for the restaurant to provide anything.

The Joy of Reading

I’m a huge fan of reading. In fact, I receive questions from readers often asking for recommendations. Each week I’ll have a post dedicated to what I’m reading. Sometimes it’s books about etiquette. Sometimes it’s fictions. Currently, it’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: a Savannah Story. I’ve read this before, but, like most books, I find myself almost homesick for the places and people. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, though, is different because it’s non-fiction, meaning that the people and places are real. I can’t express how much I want to go to Savannah, Georgia and meet some of the characters. There’s not a perfect soul among them, but it’s often the imperfections we fall in love with.

My kids, thankfully, also love to read. Well, my son, who is four, loves being read to. My daughter, who is in kindergarten, has started reading fairly well on her own. From the time I was pregnant, we’d read stories to them. The first book I vividly remember reading to my pregnant belly was a Berenstain Bears book, a childhood favorite of my own.

Each Thursday we go as a family to our local library to find new treasures.

We’re very fortunate to have a phenomenal librarian and library staff. Each employee is wonderful with kids and adults and offer fantastic suggestions. The Berenstain Bears continue to be a favorite of both of my kids. However, as they’ve aged, they’ve added new favorites, as well. My daughter loves everything My Little Pony. My son tends to favor Paw Patrol. We’ve read Ramona Quimby books (one of my top picks as a kid), the Pinkalicious series and lots of others, well.

Even as a child I knew the power a book held. It allowed you to travel to places that don’t actually exist. You were able to see from the viewpoint of people who lives hundreds of years ago or who lived in different parts of the world. I remember lying on my bed looking at the back of my Berenstain Bears books thinking of which one I wished I had. I had two favorites in particular.

By now y’all likely know of my love of holidays, so I doubt it comes as much of a surprise that one of my favorites was The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin. It tells of the meaning behind Thanksgiving and how we sometimes forget to be grateful for the little things in life.

My absolute, without-a-doubt, top pick of all time is The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear (First Time Books(R)).

To this day, I get giddy when my kids and I curl up to read this book. It had the most beautiful cover, and I remember empathisizing strongly with Sister Bear. No matter what issue the Bear family faced, everything was always put back together by the end, which I appreciated as a child.

I strongly feel that reading grows our empathy and helps us to be a better person and citizen. We see the world from a different perspective, and we learn that our way isn’t the only way. I look forward to sharing what I’m reading with y’all, as well as some reading goals I’ve set for myself! I hope you’ll share with me, too!

What books are you reading right now? I always love suggestions!

 

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In Your Easter Bonnet…

            Classic dress from Boden

Easter is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a fan of all holidays. There’s something very special, though, about the trees sprouting new leaves and the smell of spring rain in the air. I also notice that people tend to use Easter as the one occasion they still dress up.

             Floral Boden dress

 

A tradition in my own family is for everyone to get new clothes. I enjoy wearing dresses regularly, and the clothes my kids gets for Easter are the church clothes they usually wear throughout the summer, with some variations.

              Traditional Easter outfit

My kiddos are four and five years old, so I don’t buy a ton of nicer clothes for them. In addition to both kids growing quickly, they also tend to be a bit rough on clothes. Still, at Easter all rationalism flies out of the window.

I love classic clothing, particularly for kids. Seersucker and bowties are top picks of mine. My hubby will occasionally humor me with both options. Here are a couple of picks for my kids this year.

You can shop these looks at http://www.janieandjack.com and http://www.bodenusa.com/en-us/kids-clothing.

Bonus: In the South, it is traditional to bring out your white clothes again!

Library Etiquette

My kids and I like to go to our local library on Thursday evenings. It’s open until 8pm on Thursdays, and, as a working mom, this is our little getaway each week.

I enjoyed just walking the aisles until something catches my eye. My daughter, 5, always migrates to the My Little Pony area, despite my attempts. I was always a Romona Quimby girl, to the point where I wrote “Ramona Quimby, age 8” at the top of all of my school papers when I was in the 3rd grade. I’m just grateful I went to a small school and my teacher, Mrs. Jaggers, knew who that was. My son likes The Berenstein Bears (it’s how I know he’s mine) and books about firemen.

Regardless of your interests, I’d bet you’ll be able to find them at your local library. I’ve surprisingly had a few emails informing me that people want to go to the library in their hometown, but they’re unsure of how to act. Here are a few pointers.

  • Unless you have a bottle-fed baby, don’t bring in food and water. Many libraries will have signs letting you know it’s not allowed, but it can easily harm books, which is the reasoning behind it.
  • Bring your kids! Most libraries have a kids’ section/area. Ours does, and it brings out their love for reading, which is essential.
  • Be timely in your returns. Aside from the minimal fine you’ll incur, it’s inconsiderate to other people who may have wanted to read that book.
  • Take phonecalls outside or to a designated area.
  • Don’t fold the pages! This one goes for any borrowed book. Don’t earmark the page to let you know where you are. Get a bookmark.
  • Limit computer use to an hour, if a time limit isn’t stated. Plenty of people use the library and all of its abundant resources, such as computers and/or wi-fi to do work. An hour is usually enough time to do what needs done while not preventing someone else getting their work done.

What other guidelines would you add to the above list?

As always, thank you for reading!

Updating Our Home

We have a very traditional home. It was built in 1940, and I absolutely love the formality of it in some regards. It has a formal dining, which I consider a must. It also has a formal-style living room, which I love most days. However, we have young kids, so sometimes a formal life doesn’t work for us. I recently purchased cubical storage shelves for our sunroom, and I cannot wait to get them put together!

I wanted the kids to have a corner of the room that they can have their joint toys (legos, crayons, etc.) together. I’ll post a picture of the completed project! I wanted to make sure all of the readers knew about Target’s discount on kids’ home items through the 20th! Get up to 25% off!!

Up to 25% off kids’ home + an extra 20% off bed & bath with code HOMEREFRESH Sun-Thurs. Valid 1/14-1/20 

I have been asked more about discounts lately, and I am a firm believer in not paying more than you have to. That being said, I will always make an effort to only showcase ads that I truly believe you, the readers, will benefit from. As always, thank you for reading!