5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

B.O.R.E.D and hungry.

Restaurant waiting with 4 kids!

The manager comes out to say they are backed up and will be out shortly

…what he means is it will be another 30 minutes.

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

Entertaining them with ketchup…works for about 1 minute.  29 left to go.

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

Then add mustard.  2 minutes…28 minutes to go.

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

Sugar packets…30 seconds until they find out they can pour the sugar all over the floor!  27 minutes and 30 seconds to go.  Urgg…

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

So here is the part where we begin to play with knives.

Please…they are butter knives and usually extremely dull at restaurants.  Although, we do have one kid that we need to replace the dull butter knives with straws.  He likes to sword fight with just about anything…safety first right!?!

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

Are you seeing it?

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

The answer to the next 12 minutes!?!   Yep, we timed it!

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

A bit of ‘sugar’ added to our meal waiting time.

So what did we do with the rest of the 15 minutes and 30 seconds until chow time??

#2 Stacking ice cubes.  Big square cubes make this a rockin’ time.  This lasts about 5 minutes…until their hands are frozen or the ice melts and you have a puddle!

#3 Straw paper races.  Just pull off one end of the paper straw and with the ‘naked’ end blow the paper off…oh wait, I am sure you already know this one because you’ve had to apologize to the table across from you when the wrapper went astray!   Try shooting them across the table…it will help with the embarrassment.  7 minutes

#4  Lasso your ice. Pull that random string off your kid’s shirt, great entertainment for about 6 minutes!

#5 What’s missing? This can go on for a long time…we have not timed this one:)

Now go…find a restaurant that is backed up and has a line out the door.  You can tackle it.  You will be one proud mama knowing that you had a great meal without screaming  from you or your kids!

5 ideas to keep kids entertained at a restaurant

  1. April 4th, 2011 at 8:01 am
    Missy says:
    So fun! I want to go out to eat just to try these. You win the cutest kids contest, too!
  2. April 4th, 2011 at 8:59 am
    alysha says:
    Thanks for the ideas! Your kids must be better behaved then Chanley, because last time we gave her the sugar packets it was a MESS! But, I'm sure the tic-tac-toe idea would keep my hubby entertained. :) We'll have to try that one! He loves that he can beat me every single time.
    Love all the pics of your sweet kids by the way.
  3. April 4th, 2011 at 10:54 am
    Shelley says:
    Great for kids and adults alike! :) Fun dating ideas. Better than just looking at eachother ;)
  4. April 4th, 2011 at 11:22 am
    Amie says:
    Love this post! Great ideas!
  5. April 4th, 2011 at 12:56 pm
    Beth Ann says:
    With butter knives/silverware and or chopsticks we make letters and small words with our 3 & 4 yr old. Both are really into letters so it keeps them entertained for what seems like 15 mins or so.
  6. April 4th, 2011 at 1:06 pm
    Jill says:
    Those are great idea for anyone! I would never have thought about the tic tac toe or the what's missing game but those are so clever and entertaining. Now only if you had ideas for while on an airplane... :)
  7. April 4th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
    Susan says:
    My husband tears up the kids' menu and folds frogs. We then make obstacle courses like crayons standing on end to see who can jump it withoug knocking the crayons over, ketchup bottles, etc. It's pretty funny when one lands in someones drink! :-)
  8. April 4th, 2011 at 1:26 pm
    Natalie says:
    This is great. One of our favorites is a game my husband made up called "The Sandwich Game." It keeps my kids in stitches. Basically, one person slaps their had on the table and says "bread" and everyone takes turns placing their hand on top and adding their toppings like ketchup, mustard, turkey, paper, dirty socks, apples, spoons, etc. It usually is good for at least 5-10 minutes depending on the kids mood.
  9. April 4th, 2011 at 1:37 pm
    Maggie M. says:
    Oh my gosh...you rock. We completely avoid going out to dinner with the kids...maybe we'll attempt it and use some of your ideas! We always seem to get stuck with eeeexxxxttttrrrraaaa lllloooonnnngggg waiting times, too...you'd think when they see a family with small children walking in the door they would adjust their priorities a bit - just to get us OUT more quickly!!! :)
  10. April 4th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
    Dawn says:
    LOL...you do ALL the things I do to keep the little ones entertained...except the tic tac toe...now I have something else to do too! thanks!
  11. April 4th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    Annie says:
    What cute pictures (especially the ones with the kids in them). Love the idea!!!
  12. April 4th, 2011 at 6:00 pm
    Catherine says:
    SO smart! Too bad my toddler's too young to understand tic-tac-toe... She'd just bang the knives on the table like ear-splitting drumsticks. But I'm definitely remembering this for when she's older!
  13. April 4th, 2011 at 8:06 pm
    makayla says:
    I love you and you are smart!
  14. April 4th, 2011 at 8:42 pm
    Steph says:
    My brothers and I are notorious for playing 'Ice Hockey' across the table. Set up your goals, use a spoon and grab an ice cube and you're on your way!
  15. April 5th, 2011 at 4:58 am
    James Anderson says:
    Love the photography, my Daughter loves playing with the packets of sugar and we definitely get a good few minutes out of this until she bites through a packet of pepper and things suddenly come to a holt. Ice cubes for me are a disaster drom start to finish so I now ask for no ice cubes in any drinks.
  16. April 5th, 2011 at 11:40 am
    Stephanie C says:
    Tic Tac Toe - I love it!

    When we're at a chinese restaurant we ask for a bunch of chopsticks and play pick up sticks with them. Lots of fun and takes up most of our waiting for food time.
  17. April 6th, 2011 at 1:03 pm
    Carly N says:
    Love it!! We ball up the straw paper or whatever and play finger football taking turns thumbing into each others finger football goals always a winner with my two boys!!
  18. April 6th, 2011 at 8:30 pm
    wendy says:
    Great ideas for kids 3 and up! Now if you can just come up withe some ideas that would entertain my 18 month old, I would be forever in your debt! :)
  19. April 7th, 2011 at 11:52 am
    Ashlee F. says:
    I love the tic tac toe game! What a great way to pass the time! :) I am for sure trying this next time!
  20. April 7th, 2011 at 6:48 pm
    Tracey Marzich says:
    Great idea! Love it. Is it wrong to let your kids run around as long as they stay close to the table?
    • October 24th, 2012 at 11:30 am
      Sydnea says:
      Yes, because there are waiters/waitresses walking around with HOT food, and if your child accidentally bumps into them, they could end up dropping it and it could then end up burning your child or someone else. Unfortunately, I've seen this happen several times before.
  21. April 10th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    Tammy says:
    I am so sharing these ideas with my nieces and nephews so they can use with their kids. Brilliant!!
  22. April 10th, 2011 at 10:25 pm
    Jen says:
    Make worms out of paper straw protectors. Squeeze your the paper on your straw together and push off the straw. Drop water on the paper and watch the worm grow.
  23. November 27th, 2011 at 11:12 pm
    kcgmom says:
    love the tic tac toe idea! I have 5 kids and waiting in a restaurant can be brutal!
  24. November 28th, 2011 at 6:09 pm
    Jess says:
    these are the ideas we need for real life! :)
  25. February 8th, 2012 at 11:31 am
    grannie-to-ten says:
    The tic tac toe was a cute idea. PLEASE train your children to respect the restaurant's property and the peace and relaxation that OTHERS are also there to enjoy; their own meal and time of talking with their own friends and family. If one's children cannot be controlled, then perhaps they are not old enough to be taken out to a restaurant yet. It's extremely rude to let ones children get up from the table and walk around the restaurant, roll around on the floor, scream and yell and fight with other children or their own parents/grandparents, etc. OTHER people have the right to enjoy their time at the restaurant too. Perhaps have your own bag of items that you bring with you to the restaurant to entertain your children, be prepared before you go there; ask to be seated away from the majority of other diners, maybe near the kitchen where it's already noisy. I can't afford to go to a restaurant very often and it's so disappointing when I do get to go out to eat and have to listen to and observe disobedient children and parents that don't seem to care at all what their children are doing. You seem to be trying to keep your children quiet. Thank you.
  26. March 18th, 2012 at 8:14 pm
    Juli says:
    This is Brilliant! With a capital "B"! Another that we often do (My boys are 10 and 11) is building "card" houses with the sugar packets. One time, we waited so long for our meal we actually made it to a second level... course we had to "steal" packets from neighboring tables. :)
  27. April 20th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
    breanna says:
    super helpful idea! I usually keep some crayons in my purse, but sometimes that's just not enough for my little lady!

    I've linked to you here:
  28. April 28th, 2012 at 12:18 pm
    Janis meredith says:
    Hats off! You are a creative mom and I wish I had that idea when my kids were little and antsy at restaurants! Love it. I will remember it for my grandchildren someday.
  29. June 16th, 2012 at 8:24 pm
    sharon says:
    It is never a good idea to play at the table in a restaurant. What you have described not only spreads germs,but cause messes. I work in a reataurant and have seen kids put the salt shakers in their mouth not to mention other things. Those sugar packets are used by everyone else and if your child has a cold guess what, the next person to touch that packet will also get a cold, and it might be the person that is waiting on you who has no choice to be there. Next time how about you as a parent bring books,crayons,cards etc. Thank you
    • October 24th, 2012 at 11:24 am
      Sydnea says:
      I fully agree! I can't count the number of times I've had to clean up after someone who let their child rip open or play with the sugar packets or replace a drink because one of the games they were playing ended up with a straw wrapper or napkin going into someone's drink. Drinks get spilled and messes get made, and as much as you say you're just helping your child stay quiet, you're putting so much more of a stress on your waiter/waitress. Because when your drink gets spilled, I have to clean it up; when all of that sugar ends up on the floor, I have to vacuum it; when you decide that you don't want the knives you've been playing with because they're now "dirty". I have to get those for you, and I already have several other tables to pay attention to and take care of.

      Also, if the restaurant you go to provides crayons, PLEASE don't let your child color on the tables/walls. It's a pain to get that off, and all of the messes that you have let your child make, has to be cleaned up before the next table can be sat. Please keep in mind that, depending on where you live, your server only makes about $2 an hour and thus has to rely mainly on tips, so the more of a mess we have to clean up, the longer it's going to take to get that table ready for the next family, and the less money your server ends up making. Leading to the fact that, if you want to be well taken care of by your server, teach your children to be patient, this includes not yelling or running around the restaurant, and try bringing your own toys or books to keep them occupied while waiting for your food. You'd be amazed at, not only the compliments you'll receive from other patrons and possibly your server, but also how well you'll be treated by your server who will be more willing to get your food out as soon as possible.

      Just some words from someone who deals with this at least five days a week.
  30. February 28th, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    Duncan Faber says:
    We have 5 kids (I know. What were we thinking?) so we're always looking for ways to keep them entertained when we go out. We download a lot of audiobooks. There's plenty of sites where you can get them, but we use this site a lot because it's free and all the stories are original. Here's the link if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/stories-for-kids
  31. September 9th, 2013 at 6:42 pm
    erin c says:
    These are pretty good ideas! However, after being a server for 5 years, I want to encourage parents to make sure all items are properly put await when your meal is over!
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