Taking our family out into the community for a dinner at a restaurant is no easy task, but we all enjoy it, so we do it. It is not that difficult when you do a little preparation before you go. We have three children and they all love to eat in a restaurant.
Our daughter needs the most accommodations as she has celiac disease and must eat gluten-free. Luckily, many restaurants are now adding gluten-free choices to their menus. I do make sure I pack food and drink for her just in case we end up somewhere that does not have many available. When this happens, we will just order her a gluten-free drink and side item so that she can get something special as well.
When we schedule our family dinner dates we always make sure to go on “off” times. So, if we are planning to do lunch, we go early, right when the restaurant opens. And when we choose to go out for dinner we will go early, around 5 pm. This way we miss the crowds and our wait time is much shorter.
Next on the preparation list are entertainment items. Any wait time for kids can be difficult and that is where the entertainment items become a necessity.
This is where iPad, tablets, and smart phones become very handy. Even if your child is not allowed a lot of screen time, this is where they can have that special treat. It is okay to have different rules for special outings.
There are plenty of other entertainment items that can be brought for a quiet waiting activity. Coloring, reading, or puzzle games are great ideas. Just make sure that these are activities only brought out for these types of outings. This will make them special
Remember to do practice role playing in the car on the way to the restaurant. How to order, what to do if the order is wrong, quiet voices, and good manners are types of behaviors to role play and practice on the way.
These tips have always helped my family have a successful night out on the town.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.