In theory, the idea of enjoying a deliciously-cooked meal outside of the home with your family sounds magical. In reality, it is often more stressful than it’s worth, especially if you have children like mine.

We have always struggled to find a restaurant that caters to both my dining desires and that of my children’s. I want a night off cooking, a chance to enjoy a healthy meal in the company of my family, and an opportunity to perhaps put on a bit of makeup and enjoy a glass of wine without having to multi-task while drinking it.

My children want to eat chips and nuggets, take off their shoes, make funny faces and fight with one another.

So, here is our guide to combining your desires and your children’s desires into a wonderful night out for the entire family.

Go early, leave early

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a meal at 5:00pm, especially as it means you can escape the restaurant before the people who eat at a regular hour arrive.

And… you can still make it home in time for the regular bath, book and bed routine. Winning!

Order hot chips as an appetiser

This eliminates the risk of hearing, “MUMMM, I’m hungry,” throughout your pre-dinner glass of wine. It may even result in you being able to have an actual ten-minute conversation with your partner while the kids eat their chips.

Tired of hot chips? Garlic bread is another winner in our house.

Bring your own plastic glass

Because odds are, if your kids drink out of the restaurants glass ones, they will break them.

Learn to eat one-handed

Because more likely than not, you’ll end up with at least one child on your lap by the end of the meal.

Wear pants with a bit of breathing room.

This isn’t just in case you stuff yourself with delicious food, but it also eliminates the risk of popping your pants every time you have to bend down and pick up a piece of food, a fork and a napkin from the floor after your child has thrown them on the ground.

Bring back-up.

Have a few games ready to play to keep them entertained such as I Spy.

iPads work too.

Or grandparents.

Opt for restaurants that cater to kids

Most restaurants in Cairns are family-friendly but if you are ever concerned, give them a call and make sure they serve food that your kids will enjoy and offer an atmosphere where the kids are welcome.

Restaurants that have a play area, games room, live music and kid’s menus can be lifesavers for parents. Both Cazalys’ and Ellis Beach Bar and Grill are great venues for parents with kids looking for a relaxed night off from the kitchen duties.

And, finally, offer ice cream as a treat, but only if they behave. 

If they don’t, eat it yourself. Bon Appetite.