12 Ways To Keep Kids Entertained When Dining Out (That Isn't A Tablet Or Smartphone)
Keeping children entertained is no mean feat. From the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they go to sleep at night, they have an almost limitless amount of energy. So it only stands to reason that we bleary-eyed adults with our jobs and very grown-up concerns struggle to keep up with them. And unfortunately, when all we want is to relax for a few minutes, especially if it's with a tasty meal, as if they can read our minds, many of our kids will inevitably act up - especially in restaurants.
While having your toddler fling their meal across the room at home is annoying, or throw a full-on temper tantrum because you dared serve them something other than ice cream, when it happens in public it can be rather inconvenient, to say the least.
So, to save you a headache, we've compiled a list of the tips and tricks that will help you keep your kids busy in even the most upmarket of restaurants - because no one wants to be left red-faced in public.
1. I Spy
What makes this game so brilliant is its simplicity - and the fact that you require absolutely no materials to play it. Better still, it will help keep your little monsters entertained in just about any location, whether it's in a restaurant or on a train.
2. Dining Out Printables
Thankfully, there are some restaurants which will help you out with this one and provide coloring and activities in the placemats for young kids. But don't risk getting caught out - bring your own and some crayons to ensure your kids are busy as you wait for your food.
3. Straw Wrapper Worms
This game is super easy to play and unlike printables, appeals to most kids regardless of their age. All you need to do is remove your straw wrapped in a way that bunches it all up then lay it on the table, add some drops of water and watch it come alive and start to squirm!
4. Straw Wrapper Roses
While this is only a game that older children will be able to play, it's one that younger children can marvel at. I mean, in their eyes, only a magician could turn an old straw wrapper into a beautiful rose. The full DIY instructions are available on Curbly.
5. Knives And Sugar Packet Tic Tac Toe
It's not just straw wrappers that you can create fun games from though. You can also do it with (supervised) knives and sugar packets. Simply make a tic tac toe board with butter knives then use different colored sweetener packets as your X's and O's.
Sure, bringing snacks to a restaurant might seem ridiculous as you're going there to eat, but if you have younger kids, they're a godsend. But if you chose the snacks wisely, they can double as a way to keep your talkative kids quiet, and as a game. If you chose colored sweets, for example, you can ask your kids to sort them by color - or simply practice their counting.
7. Order dessert
It's a given that your kids will almost definitely finish their food faster than you, so why not be one step ahead of them and order dessert when they finish their main meal? It will keep them distracted while you finish your food. You can even use it as a bribe.
8. Family Dinner Conversation
You might not be eating your meal at home, but that doesn't mean you can't talk to each other! Why not include your kids in the conversation directly to keep them busy? You could start by asking everyone how their day has been.
9. Sugar Packet Towers
This one's very simple: encourage your kids to build towers out of sugar packets.
10. The Memory Game
Lay out a number of items from your bag or purse on the table, then tell your kids to memorize them. Once they have, remove an item (or two) and ask them to work out which one has gone missing. The grownups can play this one too!
11. Make your own matching game
Trace table items (like knives, forks, and salt shakers) onto the back of a paper placement (providing, of course, that there's one available) and then challenge your kids to match the items on the table to the shapes.
12. Purse-sized games
As you've gathered by now, many of the games on this list rely on their being certain items at your table like salt packets and paper placemats and since none of these are guaranteed, it's a good idea to have back up entertainment for your kids in the form of purse-sized games. That's why I keep Left-Right-Center and Spot It in my purse at all times.
So there you have it - 12 ways of keeping your kids busy at a restaurant. One thing's for sure, they're so varied that they're guaranteed to keep your kids entertained until they're old enough to realize the joy of not throwing their food across the room!