Parent Corner: Four Tips for Beating the Vacation Hangries

Family vacations with littles are wonderful and stressful, fun and exhausting because you’re working so hard to create beautiful memories, savor every moment, and please the kids, the grandparents, and your aunt Susan, who sees your family only once a year. 

But routines are thrown off; lines are long; and the hangry devil often rears its ugly head for everyone involved. (For the uninitiated, “hangry” is “hungry” + “angry,” and it’s acutely painful for young ones.) I was a server for 10 years, so I’ve witnessed plenty of people, young and old, exhibiting less-than-stellar behavior while experiencing this affliction.

To avoid the hangries – which, if not addressed, can become full-blown family meltdowns (also witnessed) – follow these simple steps: 

1. Find an early-bird special: To avoid waiting and extra-rumbly bellies, get to the dining option of your choice by 4:30 pm. Yes, you’re still cool. No shame. 

2. Choose a restaurant with some space: Door County has a plethora of awesome dining options that can keep kids safely entertained while the adults enjoy a beverage. This is nowhere near an exhaustive list, but here are a few: Coyote Roadhouse, right on Kangaroo Lake; Island Fever, which has those giant Connect Four games; and PC Junction/Pizza Czar, which caters especially to kids and is epic, to say the least. 

Other places we love – with plenty of room where kids can run and play – include the Peach Barn Farmhouse & Brewery, which has a sandbox, toys and a fence!; Stabbur Beer Garden, which has giant Jenga and goats just a rooftop away; Waterfront Mary’s, with its beautiful beach; and the Albatross Drive-in, which has a stocked sandbox.

3. Snacks, snacks and more snacks: Have them readily available, and keep ’em coming to stave off the hangries. 

And here’s a final suggestion, for when Grandma and Grandpa insisted on the nice restaurant with the hour-long wait and the kitchen’s a bit behind. 

4. Sit your child on a barstool, and order a kitty cocktail. The TVs over the bar, the animated conversations, the bartender putting on a show pouring drinks and those delicious maraschino cherries will calm that kid right down. 

You’re doing great! 

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