Family holidays are a favourite childhood memory of mine, particularly the memory of eating out in the evenings! In Portugal I remember my older brother and I testing the chocolate mousse in every restaurant before going back to the winner on the last night! I still adore chocolate mousse.
We are lucky enough to live in a sunny climate, so even though we are currently in winter, on Saturday night we decided to head out for supper with the kids. We sat, chatted, ate, laughed and both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed the kids company, it was a fun evening and one we have mentally decided to do more often. I even managed to keep my phone in my bag for the whole meal - other than to take a few photos :)
How do you make family nights work for the whole family - so you all enjoy the time you spend together? Here are a couple of ideas on how we make it work:
Involve your kids in the conversation.
We chatted about the birthday party they had been too - what they liked about the child whose birthday it was, what makes someone a good friend, and then it went on to what sort of birthday party they would like to have. Florence held most the conversation but the boys certainly chipped in with lots of comments (aged 2yrs).
Pick a subject your child is interested in and ask them about it, whether its books, trains, T.V program, school, sport, the weather………… “What did you enjoy doing today?” “Tell me about school this week, who did you play with?”
Take colouring or activities
Make sure you have a quick activity for them to do whilst they wait for their food. Our kids are still young and so dont understand why they have to wait for their food (usually they come to the table once the food is ready). To combat the craziness we arrived pretty early, and then they had activities to keep them busy. The restaurant we went too gave them a party pack, with colouring pictures, a little sweet (which we managed to keep for dessert), and book, but if you are going to a restaurant that isn’t geared up to kids - just pack a few books, pens paper, sticker books or those water colour books are also great. Obviously if your children are older this isn’t necessary, but our boys are still few years away from that, and it meant we could have a drink without having to say ‘no’ to lots of things.
These activities helped pre meal, however if you are thinking wow that all sounds so pleasant, full exclosure after meal the kids were drinking water from the fountains, and licking the glass doors, roaring like lions the lot................
We are lucky that eating out in SA is very reasonable, but you can make family night fun wherever you are - here are our tips:
Have a games night .
Granny came to babysit our friends kids for the weekend. They had a picnic next to the fire followed by games - the kids thought it was the best thing ever!! A board game, drinks and popcorn and you are away.
Our favourite games
(5yr and 3yr old - our 3 yr olds struggle a bit with some of these):
I can’t wait to set up a projector, get some blankets and watch a Christmas movie outside (its summer here in December). But to keep it simple, a family movie with popcorn, & drinks is a lot of fun. For more details on how to set up a cinema outside - here is a great blog post from Green Fingers.
Making pizza/ wraps / fajitas / ice cream toppings / brownie’s / icing biscuits. Getting kids involved in the cooking you will be amazed about the veg they eat if it is on a pizza
Cinema / theatre / night tour at the zoo/ walk around the neighbourhood in your PJs with torches.
What are your favourite things to do as a family? How do you make it easier to eat out at a restaurant with young kids? Tell us in the comments below.
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