Honestly we have never taken our children to a proper grown up restaurant. Coffee shops and so forth, yes. But no proper place with cloth napkins and no play area. Some place that serves great food and not over basted steaks. Somewhere where they do not have a play area, colouring in sheets as place mats or an offer to make your own pizza. Proper dining.
Well for Sunday lunch we did it. With friends. 4 adults, 6 children 11 to 5 with 3 7 year olds in the mix. It went well - amazingly so. I promise you I could hardly believe it. And all we took along was some paper (an old traffic impact study printed on one side) and a set of twisty crayons.
We had great great food (Portuguese buffet) , good wine, excellent company for 3 hours and very good children. In fact, it was such a nice experience that it has totally turned my very tired, very irritated and low mood into a very happy and positive mood. The naps after at home certainly sealed the deal. None of the "we went out to lunch, the food was just sort of ok but at least the kids had fun" feeling.
It just goes to show a point that was made to us by Piero from the now closed Tutti Pasta restaurant. Children have to learn to sit at a table and enjoy a good meal - without having the adaptions that we as a society have made to make it easier for them. If we always take them to kid friendly venues they will never learn and every time you take them to a non kiddy friendly place they will learn and adapt.
I know we have left this late - our kids are 7 and 9 - certainly we could have tried this earlier as some of you may. But truly, we as adults are entitled to having the dining experience we want and our kids need to adapt too - no use us always adapting for them. Admittedly it gets easier as they grow up but I am wondering if we could not have done this years ago if we started younger and just got them used to it.
So what have your experiences been?
(We had lunch at Mesa Portuguesa that has a stunning Sunday lunch buffet - it is well worth the visit. There is a little plastic table in one section for very small toddlers I guess - our kids did not even attempt to go there but for a 2 year old this can help)