5 Easy Ways to Entertain the Kids at Restaurants. (Do I dare say without a screen.) GASP!

We’ve all been there! Your child is hungry and fussy and the food has not yet arrived. What should you do? Yes, it’s tempting to pull out our cell phones or tablets to quickly keep our child occupied, but this doesn’t teach them to sit and behave properly at a restaurant.

Teaching our kids how to behave in a restaurant setting is an important part of parenting. We know it’s hard for them to sit still so we need a plan. A go to restaurant plan to help hold their attention span – quiet games and activities to keep them happy and entertained – and yes all screen-free.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep them busy at restaurants without the screens:

Napkin Decoration!

I love crayons because it only takes a few and a napkin and you are all set! Challenge the kids to a napkin decoration contest. Who can make the best design? And if there’s no paper napkin? Keep a couple of spare pieces of paper. I have even, under desperate circumstances, pulled out a few old receipts and told them to decorate my important papers.

Quiet Family Games

I Spy….I spy with my little eye something blue and shiny? My daughter loves this game. She will study the room and then come up with something ridiculously small that might not even be in the room. We will go through everything in the restaurant and she’ll even give ‘hints’ as we go. This game can go on for a long time until we figure it out. And she’s happy as can be as she tries to continue to stump us.

Let’s Tell a Story…Someone starts by making up the beginning of a story and then stops. The next person picks up and starts adding to the story.  It gets silly and often times we end up starting over, but it’s a great way to pass the time. And allows the players to think creatively!

Printed Coloring Pages

Why not print out a few of their favorite characters coloring pages before leaving. Throw them into your purse with a couple of crayons and you’ll be ready! And why not add a few good skills by printing out this special edition of our latest book Lil’ Champs Play it SMART elm-activity.pdf

Chat N’ Giggle Cards

Who doesn’t love a good joke and/or interesting questions? Make your own or  download  free joke cards. Simply cut them out and throw them in the purse. Kids area always very excited to share a joke or two. For free joke cards and to learn how to make your own giggle bag click here.

The Toy Bag

Although I am not a fan of toys at the table, if the kids are small, a few things to pull out before the meal arrive can go a long way. Throw in simple small favorite books and/or toys to delight your child as he waits. A sandwich bag of Legos. A little car. A favorite doll. Anything to entertain! But make sure you remove the toys from the table when the meal has arrived. This will reinforce that we don’t play at the table.

Ready to implement a screen-free restaurant plan? What are your favorite tips and tricks to entertain the kiddos? Please share.




Suzanne Wind About Suzanne Wind

Suzanne Wind is a wife, mom of three and author of the award-winning series, The SMART Playbook and Lil' Champs Play it SMART. Her passion is to empower parents to teach the next generation social skills that fit a modern world and are the key to their future successes. She writes about ideas and activities designed to help children gain confidence and character.
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