We have all been there. You go out for a nice family meal and the food is taking a little longer than your child’s stomach says it should. They get antsy, restless and grouchy. The coloring page is no longer entertaining them. You scramble in your purse for a single object and a scrap of paper to keep them entertained just a little bit longer. Your patience is wearing thin. You don’t want to resort to games on your phone.
First and foremost, to have a better dining experience, come prepared, make your expectations clear on behavior and dine at a time when your kids are not too tired.
If you have all that in order, I came up with a list of things to do at the table to keep those little busy bees entertained! In the meantime, you may find yourself creating memories!
Ways to Keep Your Child Entertained at a Restaurant
- Try making a “straw caterpillar.” Simply bunch up the wrapper of a straw, while it is still attached in an accordion fashion and slip it off the straw. Lay it on the table and tell your kids to watch closely as just a bit of water makes the caterpillar come to life! Drip a couple tiny drops onto the wrapper and it will start to unwrap, but appear to be moving. My husband said he used to do this all the time as a kid.
- For little ones, try asking them to arrange the items on the table from tallest to shortest.
- Play “I spy”
- Take your child for a walk while you wait for your food.
- Come prepared with small, healthy snacks to keep the hunger at bay while you wait.
- If they are just learning to read, try having them read you the menu.
- Ask them to tell you a story about how the food is being prepared in the back.
- Bring flash cards with you and use this time to teach!
- Get them involved in being little food critics. Ask them to tell you one thing on the menu that sounds wonderful and why and one thing on the menu that sounds icky and why. Make it a goal to eat one thing on the menu they wouldn’t normally like and ask them to critique it for you. Ask them to tell you what they like and dislike about the atmosphere at the restaurant.
- Play Tic Tac Toe with the silverware at the table and sugar packets. Line up knives to create a Tic Tac Toe board and each player gets a different colored sugar packet.
- Bring along simple table games that can be tucked away in your purse such as Pairs in Pears or Bananagrams.
What do you do to entertain your little ones when you are out for a meal that doesn’t include electronics?