There is a huge amount of research out there as to why sitting around a table and sharing a meal is good for families. It is also true that eating out with kids isn’t always the most relaxing of experiences.
When we dine out, I have a soft-focus image in my head of a smiling family at a tidy table. We are surrounded with expensively clad and perfectly turned out charges. They are dining on an array of vegetables and displaying impeccable table manners. The reality is more likely two scruffs with sauce on their sleeves and seemingly no knowledge whatsoever that cutlery exists.
However, dining out can be a worthwhile and beneficial experience for kids and parents, building vital family time into busy schedules and expanding the food horizons of fussy eaters. Here are some of the main benefits of making time for family meals:
Try, try and try again
Lots of children don’t like to try new things, but having them try a taste of your dish might just encourage a more open mind when it comes to ordering in the future. Anything that gets a positive response can be added to your home repertoire. I find mealtime inspiration is always helpful, as mine relies heavily on frozen pizza and fish fingers.
Dining out as a treat or reward for good behaviour doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. Taking them out for cake or a milkshake is just as much fun as a sit down lunch or dinner.
Waiting patiently for food, sitting quietly and ordering politely from the waiting staff is great for improving their social skills.
So the next time you really fancy a night out, are celebrating, or just can’t be bothered cooking, you are actually parenting the heck out of those children.
Good for you.