25 July 2006

Writer seeks your "outings with kids" tips

I'm not the only person who thinks you're smart. Barbara Aria, a writer for a national women's monthly, would love to hear your tips. Here's what she's looking for:

I'm writing an article for a women's magazine about how to take young children and toddlers on grown-up outings - for example, to a restaurant, a museum, clothes shopping for you, to dinner parties at friends' houses, etc. How do you make it a good experience for everyone (and how do you make a graceful exit when it doesn't work out!)? I'm talking to parents around the U.S. who have relevant anecdotes and tips, and it occurred to me that ParentHackers might be a great source.

If you'd like to respond, contact Barbara at b.aria@earthlink.net.

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Awesome concept for an article, will respond ASAP!

Typically our 3yr old is enough of a "cafe-kid" to get the whole social aspect of an outing to restaraunts and cafe's.

All that is needed is a large enough sheet of paper or scrapbook, a box of pencils or crayons and she is happy. This is all wrapped up in a girly suitcase that travels with us.

Thankfully, due to our patronage several cafe's in our neighbourhood have started using butchers paper clipped to the tables and putting cups with colored pencils on each.

Our little one is in heaven, and it apparently does wonders for business meetings and visiting uni students too.

Any chance we can get Barbara to post the other ones that dont make it into the article?

Rhythmic distraction and re-direction...a well-practiced, carefully-scripted campaign, sitting in the restaurant with the 4 kids, goes something like this...

1- let's re-arrange the table! forks over here, salt over here, pass out the crackers - who can see themselves in their spoon? (5 mins.)

2 - Cups! (nested plastic cups, always a big favorite). (8-10 mins.)

3 - draw something (produce paper and crayons) (8-10 mins)

4 - I spy...(up to 10 mins)

5 - "Waitress, please bring whatever you've got right away"...then to the kids, eat this (and if there's nothing, produce crackers from the diaper bag) (10 mins, interspersed with potty break adventures/tours of the restaurant).

6 - oops, meltdown coming, produce ring-pop (the kid can eat at home)

7 - etc., etc.....need to change the rhythm, scenery, food choices, tasks at hand, conversation and/or play materials once every 5-10 minutes, BEFORE your kid asks for it.

8 - (for Mom and Dad)- order only 1 very large drink (so you can finish it); 1 round of food (everything at once, no appetizers, salads, desserts, etc.); divide the number of kids by 2 for number of kid's meals to order (they never eat the whole thing); cups with lids and straws to take with you; if possible, always get the salad bar as a meal (loading up on nick-nacks for the kids to munch on); ask for the check as soon as the food's delivered (to facilitate an early exit); and be sure to ask for a booth, to corral the kids deep into. Don't forget a small flashlight, to look under the table for the dropped sippy cup or toy.

9 - done, everyone's got some interesting food in them, had a fun time, and we're out before others get too pissed or the waitress notices the mushed froot loops under the table...

Ted&Kelly
www.slingwheels.com

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