9 Ways to Entertain Kiddos While Waiting in a Restaurant

gall.kids.restaurantsTested and guaranteed to keep your children entertained while waiting for dinner (or anywhere else you are stuck). Yes, you can wait with small children! No, you do not have to hand over your iphone!

1. Play I Spy.  This works well at any eatery that covers the walls with fun or interesting stuff. In fact, this can lead to some really interesting conversations with younger and older kids

2. Make up stories about other diners. Be curious! Each member of the family can choose a group at another table and weave a story about who they are and what they’re doing there. Chances are, each will try to outdo the last until the stories become wilder and wilder. Good fun and a great way to practice story-telling skills!

3. Bring flashcards. No, not the boring school skills kind. There are fun flashcards with animals, space, art, body parts and cars. They are great conversation starters. Or even better, make your own own out of index cards and magazine pictures, family photos, or silly riddles.

4. Bring pipe cleaners. These can be a life saver. You can mold them into little people, cars, monsters, etc. You can also make crowns, chains, and jewelry. Buy these at the dollar store and just keep a bunch in the glove box.

5. Taste test the condiments at the table, but only if you are really desperate. We have done this and it was fun, so I had to include it. Guard those sugar packets, they can make a humongo mess.

6. Read a book. This seems obvious but sometimes you just forget how simple it is to just read while you are waiting. If yours are young, carry picture books with you. If they’re independent readers, get them into this habit and you’ll have many years of calm restaurant meals.

7. Make some origami.  Origami is magic for almost any child, young or old. Origami skills are useful for your children, or any other children you come across in your adventures. You won’t believe what you can do with a simple dollar bill (google it — it will change your life).

8. Tell knock knock jokes. Time to break out the horrible knock knocks from your childhood to unleash on your kids. All kids go through a knock knock phase; it’s especially great when kids make up their own jokes that make no sense at all.

Knock Knock!
Whose There?
Shoe who?
Shoe toe! hahahaha!

9. Play the question game. This is a game you can play at night, in the car or when bored waiting anywhere. It is really simple. The asker  quick fires simple questions to the kids.

Would you rather live underwater or in outer space?
What is your is favorite vegetable?
Would you rather be a gnome or fairy?
Peppermint or Berry toothpaste?
Top 3 ice cream toppings?
Which moon phase is the best?
How many kids do you want when you grow up?
If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?
Bike or Skateboard?

… and so on. Great for those opinionated littles!

So, there you go. This is a tried and true safety net of ideas. Add them to your tool box and send us a few of your own!

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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