i don't claim to know it all. i don't claim to be perfect. i just claim to love jesus.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

eating out.

the other week i went out to eat with the kiddos. by myself. it's really not a huge deal.

i seem to get the most comments about our kiddos when i'm by myself eating with them. the other week i had three different people come up to me and tell me how well behaved my children were. how they couldn't believe how well mannered they were. how they couldn't believe i would take five kids out to eat by myself. how their children would've never done that. my response is always a smile and thank you. and praise the Lord.

i must say how that specific day really just blessed me. over the past few months i've been struggling with feeling like i'm doing something. those comments made me realize i am doing something, and that something is being done "right".

so HOW do we do it? i thought it'd be a good post topic. mainly because my mind is full of a whole lot of random and i didn't feel like boring you all with that...so i decided THIS. ;)

we go out. we probably eat out more than most. but most family's i know eat out, even if it is once in awhile. since little one we've taken our kids with us to sit down places. we went to places that required waiting for our food, mainly because WE would rather eat there. i know it can seem like a scary thing to do, but by taking your kids to these places, teaches them how they need to act.

we don't allow misbehavior. just because we are in public, doesn't mean we change our parenting style. what is expected at home...is expected in public. for our kids, that means sitting in their chairs. (sitting on laps is allowed ONLY until the food arrives, they must then sit in their chairs and eat) it means no fit throwing. sitting in their places until they're excused. and added just yesterday...no pressing buttons on entertainment things at the table before asking mom or dad. ;) (thank you chili's for removing the accidental .99 entertainment fee)

when misbehavior happens...and it does. we always take care of it. it usually means removing the child from the table and taking them in the bathroom. in the bathroom it is quieter and their focus is on you a bit better. we talk to them about the expected behavior, and what should happen when we go out of the bathroom. sometimes it takes more than one trip into the bathroom to talk, but consitency is key. if the behavior keeps happening, then so does the talking to. i refuse to leave a place because my child is misbehaving. to me it is rewarding them for the disobedient behavior and getting out of the place. they are going to learn that they can misbehave (long or hard) enough, and then they get to leave and sit in the car with you...or drive around...walk around outside...etc. to me that is rewarding them. so by teaching them the correct way to behave, you can avoid having to leave. i will say that because of non-nappers we have left places a little faster than normal, but they were still exected to behave. if we are places with other families and know we'll (read: me) be talking awhile shaun (and other great daddys) have taken the kids walking outside or if there are games by the games. but only because they behaved, not because they were misbehaving.

and i'll admit, one of our local places as "junk" machines...i have told them that if they behave and eat well, they'll get a "toy" out of the machines. this does not happen EVERY time, but it does happen. i think it's okay to reward for good behavior. we have had times that some kids got something, and others didn't. to me it showed natural consequences. i think they learn well by natural consequences.

try to go when you know your child is well napped. eating out always goes better then. and if you know they're going to be hungry...go to a mexican place that will give you free chips and salsa...or bring along a snack to hold them over til your meal comes. bring along crayons or books to color with/read, or go to a place that has them. always explain to them before getting out of the vehicle that you expect them to be good. and to eat. (and whatever else). that way *if* an issue arises you can remind them how you talked about being good, and they aren't, and they need to be. if you're at a place and you know there is an underlying reason for the behavior, give some grace. on the days after church when i know our kiddos are hungry and tend to act up the most, i give more grace. i know they're tired, hungry, etc. while they're still expected to behave i can understand where some of the behavior is coming from and can go into it with a better heart myself.

our kiddos are always required to do things with a happy heart. if not, they must do it until they have a happy heart. after we talk to them they are required to say, yes (mom,dad). apologize if need be and ask for forgiveness from us, and anyone else they may have been acting up against.

now, eating out is not always perfect for us. BUT it goes a bit smoother when we let the kids know what is expected of them. and when they don't do what is expected, take care of it. i think that is key. so if you tell them to not to _________. and they do __________. and you just ignore it. you aren't teaching them anything except that you don't expect them to obey you. if you deal with the issue. they're going to respect that you mean what you say. and you do what you say.

i'm not at all perfect in  my parenting. i don't want you to think i know anything at all. i just thought i'd give my "take" on eating out. eating out CAN be a really enjoyable experience for all of you. and once you do it, it gets a lot easier. trust me. :)

so there you have it, a cliff's note version of eating out. another fun tip...eat out with other families. it makes it fun for you and the kiddos. and imagine the stares you get when your family of seven eats out with another family of six...and a 1/4. and all of your kids are super well behaved. :) it feels good to be recognized for doing a good job as a parent. ((and it reminds me that as i get older and see families with well behaved children....to tell the parents. encourage them that they're doing a good job. or if i hear that mom in the bathroom talking to child...to encourage her in her consistency. :) ))

4 loving words from you.:

The Mama said...

Your routine sounds similar to ours. Wherever we go, I always tell the the expected behavior when I park the car. I even test them for a quick review before exiting the vehicle.

We get those same comments all the time, especially while we're sitting down and eating. I do like the comments, but my kids aren't perfect. So it always makes me think "gee, what would they be saying behind my back if they weren't behaving well?" I know that's a negative take on it all, but after getting so many "nice behavior" comments, I start to questions things like this. I know, I'm weird :) What's really funny is just minutes after these nice ladies complemented us and left, Makenzie (2.5yrs) refused to eat her green peppers and wanted her half of the cookie now. She was tired and we were close to leaving to go home for naps, but when it escalated I gathered up the kids, headed to the car and drove home. I told her no cookie due to her naughty behavior and laid her down for nap. Of course, she woke up chipper and sweet as ever. But I can't help but wonder what those ladies would've said to me (or without my knowing)had they stayed at the restaurant 10 more minutes. Would I then be a mother who didn't know how to control her kids? I don't know... just food for thought! HA :)

Kelli @ RTSM said...

Eating out has gotten a lot easier as my boys have gotten older. We do eat out some, but mostly fast food type places. Every once in a while we do sit down/wait type places, but when we do I make sure they have some kind of food for the kiddos at the table {chips & salsa, breadsticks, or just peanuts}. That keeps the kiddo busy and makes them forget about how long we have to wait...because honestly some places take so long that I get antsy:)

ACW said...

Great work. I really need to work on teaching my child how to behave at restaurants. I'll aspire to your greatness.

Holly said...

for the most part our kids do really well in restaurants unless they are tired then they can get a little whiny. but def need to be consistent in anything you do w/ kids!