Vancouver parents, like parents in any major metropolitan area, have a multitude of dining options. Although Vancouver dining with a preschooler may seem intimidating, there are several steps parents can take that will ensure a positive experience for everyone. Believe it or not, it is possible for parents to enjoy a relaxing conversation, preschoolers to enjoy a good meal, and restaurant staff to being “family-friendly.”
Know Your Limits
While the options for dining out with preschoolers are greater than one might suppose (no need to limit yourself to pizza and fast food), there are just some restaurants that should be avoided. Restaurants that are especially expensive or quiet, or those whose meal service lasts longer than an hour (hour and a half tops) are best avoided, for everyone’s sake. Make sure that there is something on the regular or children’s menu that your child will eat.
All in the Timing
If you plan on going out to dinner with your preschooler, choose a time that makes sense for your family. Dining on the earlier side is helpful; your child will be less cranky, more able to cope with new surroundings, and less likely to go ballistic during the appetizer course.
A Learning Experience
Your child is learning all about manners and social expectations. Ask her what she wants to eat; let her know what the menu choices are; let her sample some of your food. Teach her to say please and thank you to the wait staff, and include her in your conversation as much as she wants to be included.
Some restaurants have toys (or at least crayons and paper). Novelty is always good; toys that are new (or re-introduced after being absent) can keep a preschooler engaged until the meal arrives. Grownup conversation is hideously dull to preschoolers, so keeping them amused is crucial. You’ll have a much more relaxing time yourself as a result.
Tip Top Vancouver Dining
Good tipping is still cheaper than hiring a babysitter. Look at it from a hard-working waiter’s perspective: a child’s entrée costs much less than an adult’s, so one might expect proportionately less tip—he’ll be pleasantly surprised that you left a little extra money. Similarly, if your child makes a mess or otherwise acts like a kid, leave enough to make the waitstaff look forward to a return visit, instead of feeling dread when you walk in the door.
Know When to Fold ‘Em
Always have an escape plan—one parent to get a screaming child into her coat and get her outside stat, one to get the food boxed and pay the bill. Every now and then, you may have to cut your Vancouver dining losses, and that’s okay. The food will still taste good at home.
Sometimes, it can seem challenging to include your preschooler in adult environments—even a source of stress. Instead of thinking of all the things that could go wrong—tantrums, spaghetti sauce everywhere—indulge in the power of positive thinking. It will probably be just fine, so go and have a good time. Kids feed off of the emotions of the adults around them, so attitude does make a difference.