Tips for Keeping Kids Entertained at a Restaurant

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Ever have that moment when you wonder why in the heck you thought it was a good idea to take the kids out for dinner? Get to the point where napkins are on the floor, the salt is spilled everywhere, and sugar packets are strewn across the table? Yeah… me too.

So we started to come up with a great ways for keeping kids entertained at a restaurant. While some might sound simple enough, they truly are great at distracting our kids long enough to bridge the gap between ordering our food and being served.

Keeping Kids Entertained at a Restaurant stacking creamers

Tips for Keeping Kids Entertained at a Restaurant

1. Start with the crayons –

Most restaurants offer crayons and a coloring mat disguised as a kids menu. But sometimes these are not available so make sure to pack your own coloring book and crayons! We love stocking up on the boxes of crayons when we go out so we have at least 2 with us at all times (since each child has to have their own). Ellen from Confessions of an Overworked Mom loves how this inspires creativity and encourages the kids to be quiet at the same time.

Consider purchasing a placemat with a chalkboard side like As Mom Sees It. That way you can use the chalkboard side to draw on as you wait for your meal and when the food gets there you can turn it around and use the placemat side. Here’s the one she loves: She recommends picking up some liquid chalk pens. They work better and are less messy!

2. Make up games –

On a recent trip to eat breakfast with the kids I realized how easy it was to entertain my daughter by asking her to stack some coffee creamers. It kept her busy through the whole meal and she practiced a great skill. Here are some other great games to consider from The Frugal Mom:

  • iSpy – using items in the restaurant
  • What’s Missing? – put several items in the middle of the table, then take one away

3. Bring your own games –

The Lil Devil Mama suggests bring table games like Connect Four, Checkers, etc because they’re awesome for wasting times. These games would be perfect for older kids who might not be as excited to play the made up games.

You can also bring along portable Lego sets suggests Head Ant. I’m sure this would not only keep my kids busy but my husband as well!

4. Bust out the electronics –

Many of the women I talked to said that when the above games and distractions don’t work anymore they simply bring out their phones and electronic devices. There have been many times we turn Netflix on for the kids or pull up Angry Birds or Cut the Rope to keep them entertained.

Literally Jen’s daughter loves the Disney Fairies Fashion Boutique iPhone app. If she starts to get bored or restless at a restaurant, Jen gives her my phone and it keeps her in a good mood and entertained until it’s time to go.

5. Order the kids food ahead of time –

When all else fails (or you have kids who just aren’t having it) ask for the kids food to come out ahead of your own. The Maven of Social Media orders her kids meals with their drinks and asks the server to bring it right away. They don’t get restless waiting for their food and typically are still eating by the time the rest of the food shows up.

How do you keep your kids entertained at a restaurant?

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  1. It’s hard to keep my boys entertained when we go out to eat because we don’t do it often so they get overly excited.. My little girl is easy, as long as she has something to nibble on, she’s good. For the boys, I like to walk them around to look at things while we wait for our food and, like The Maven said, I definitely order the kids’ food asap! 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

  2. I bring snacks like those little cracker packs for them to munch on while they wait for their meals.

  3. Great suggestions! We try to always have a card game in the bag the kids can play and they love it when restaurants have kids menus they can color on! Love asking for the kids food to come first! My daughter is such a slow eater this would help us in more than one way 🙂

  4. I’m not really sure how we manage. It can be tough sometimes. We play a lot of tic-tac-toe with my 5-year old and scribbling with crayons for the almost 2-year old. Eating out with my oldest was so easy, never knew how easy she was till our second child came along. You’ve got some great tips here.

  5. That’s a great idea to ask for the kids’ meals to come out right away. I will have to remember that one!

  6. Definitely some great tips! Thanks for sharing mine!

  7. We always get the kids’ meals first. Of course, by the time they come, the kids are too full on cheese sticks. Maybe cheese sticks for a meal?

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