For us adults, restaurants are fun. The ambiance. The food. The conversation. Not having to cook. The drinks. It’s relaxing and enjoyable. For kids though (especially my kids!), restaurants are boring. They can’t make noise. They can’t run around and they have to wait… Wait to sit, wait for their drinks, wait for their food, wait to leave. This “waiting” is not on kids’ list of favorite activities. All of this waiting leaves us with bored, antsy children and adults who are desperate for an enjoyable family outing but are instead frustrated with the situation. In short, no one has a good time. Most times, I’d rather just stay home because of how stressful to can be to take all three of my kids out! It can quickly become exhausting rather than relaxing- but if you do a little planning before hand, your night can actually turn out better than expected! Most kids need something to do in order to stay happy, so I have put together a list of some fun ways to keep your kids busy at restaurants- so you have a better shot of having a good time!
Most parents are quick to pull out their cell phones or tablets to quickly keep a child busy (I know I have!!!), but doing this doesn’t really teach our kids how to sit and behave properly at a restaurant. I am definitely not above using technology to keep my kids busy, but when we are out eating, I really don’t want them to have a tablet in their faces. I truly want them to learn to sit and enjoy dinner with the family, but I know that they have short attention spans and don’t expect them to be able to sit for as long as the meal takes. Most restaurants have activity packs, which are great, but it’s good to have some other ideas up your sleeve in case little patiences begin to wear out.
So next time you are heading out to eat, be prepared with a few of these fun ideas, which will help to keep your kiddies entertained so you can enjoy your night out!
Big Kid Ideas
- Mad Libs
- Create a story about the people you see
- Create a story about Mr. Knife, Mrs. Fork and Baby Spoon (or whatever characters you wish to assign them!)
- Play tic tac toe with the sugar packets
- Play “would you rather?” and ask all sorts of interesting questions of what they’d rather do
- Mini bags of legos (a small sandwich bag would be plenty!)
- Make a “cootie catcher”- remember those?? Fill it with silly things, tasks or wishes (here’s a great tutorial in case you forget how to make them!)
- Where is it? Play the magic trick game of “where’s the penny” by placing it under one of three sugar packets and move around, allowing you child to try and guess where it is!
- Tell Knock Knock jokes
- Make some simple origami
- Play “Which is missing?” Set out some items from the table (think: utensils, sugar packs, ketchup, napkin) and have your child look at the close, then tell them to close their eyes and then take one way! Have your child try and figure out which is missing.
Little Kid Ideas
- Mini tubs of play doh
- paper and crayons
- sort the salt and pepper packets by color/shape/designs/size
- Crayola Wonder Markers
- Pipe cleaners or wiki sticks (bend into shapes, animals, letters)
- eye spy
- Create a busy book with felt shapes
- Unifix cubes (they all connect so you won’t have lost blocks)
- Popsicle sticks with velcro circles on the ends to connect to make shapes or designs
- Ed Emeberly Finger Print Drawing Books
- ABC eye spy- circle the letters on the kids paper menus, see who can get the furtherest in the alphabet!
- Read a board book story
- Aqua Doodle
With a few of these ideas at hand, you can be sure to have a better shot at an enjoyable night out! Now, I can’t prevent all meltdowns, but I can assure you that a busy kid is a happy kid 🙂