On vacation recently, hubby and I learned the most amazing secret. How to dine peacefully with our kids! At a restaurant. In public!
I don’t claim that we’re now experts on this subject, but today I’m going to share some sanity saving ideas so hopefully you can dine peacefully, too!
Idea #1. Let the kids have screen time while you dine.
It may sound obvious to you, because what kid doesn’t have a tablet nowadays??? But I am of the belief that screen time should be limited. Kids are way too addicted to screens, and so are adults for that matter. Don’t even get me started on oblivious teenagers and their phones, or kids who can’t hold a conversation unless it is via text, Snapchat or Twitter.
However! There are some great, educational apps for kids out there! I feel that playing an educational app, like KidloLand, is better than having tv-watching couch potatoes. Plus, at the bottom of this post, you can enter to win a 3 months subscription to this KidloLand app! FIVE people will be chosen! So why not dine peacefully at a nice restaurant that DOESN’T have a built in play place?
Screen time is your last resort, though, so keep reading for more ideas.
Idea #2. Feed your kids before you go.
If your kids don’t get excited about dining out (mine don’t, unless it’s ice cream), feed them at home, and then break out toys, coloring pages, etc. when you’re ready to dine (peacefully!) at the restaurant. Don’t get into a food fight at a restaurant if that’s what it will come to. Just avoid the whole situation.
Idea #3. If your kids are younger than school age, bring a light meal or snacks to the restaurant.
You may feel odd doing this, and there’s a chance you might get a dirty look. But we brought a half pbj sandwich for each of our girls into a restaurant or two on vacation and no one said a thing.
But I would more readily suggest bringing something like a food pouch, grapes, a banana…anything that is somewhat nourishing (or takes them a long time to eat- ha!). For me, the biggest reason I do this, is because you can’t always order kid-friendly, healthy food at a restaurant.
Note: When we brought the pbj’s into a restaurant, we were going for Thai food after playing at a state park all morning. My girls were hungry and couldn’t wait, so I made them a sandwich in the car. I don’t know how the Thai food would have gone over with them, or if the restaurant had a good kid’s menu.
Idea #4. Let your kids order a fun appetizer instead of a meal.
They’ll be excited and you might save money! Happy kids are well-behaved kids. 🙂
While on vacation, we sometimes ordered our kids a side like cheese fries, and they ate a fruit/veg pouch with it. We saved money, and still gave the restaurant some business, but the kids didn’t have to sit and eat a large meal. They nibbled a bit, and when they got squirmy, we pulled out the phones so they could play with their KidoLand app.
Idea #5. Don’t forget bibs and wet wipes (wipes can be used for cleaning the table, sticky hands, letting your kids ‘wash’ their chair…anything!)!
I still make my four year old wear a bib from time to time if she is wearing a nice outfit. You don’t want to ruin nice clothes AND a nice dinner by a dreadful spill and stain when you don’t have any fresh, clean clothes nearby. (I never seem to have a change of clothes for my kids. But if I do, they’re all packed in the suitcase, buried under everything else! Or they’ve been in the diaper bag so long they’re too small now. Yes, that has happened.)
Even food pouches can be messy when you have toddlers, so bring a bib and wet wipes to clean their sticky hands. You might save at least one trip to the bathroom!
Which brings me to…
Idea #6. Take your kids potty before your food arrives.
Or at least make them take a walk to the bathroom with you and wash their hands or something. The more time they have to move, the better. And hopefully, once you get there, they’ll decide they do have to go.
Idea #7. Walk around the restaurant, look out the window, have a chat.
Usually waiters stick people with kids in a room by themselves, or as far away from other patrons as possible; have you noticed? If this is the case, or it is a fairly deserted restaurant, walk up and down the aisles with your kids. Order your meal, then get up and take a little walk to eliminate as much sitting time as possible.
Just make sure you keep an eye out for waiters with trays and grumpy patrons. Some people love to chat with kids! And some would rather choke on their food. Be considerate- steer away from those who’ve already been served. But, if you come across an idle couple sitting quietly who seem to truly enjoy your four year old’s mesmerizing stories, take full advantage!
Idea #8. Let your kids butter crackers or bread.
This was my mom’s idea, when I asked for any tips I may have forgotten. Grandmas know all the tricks!!
If there are crackers on the table, or the waiter brings a bread basket, let your kids butter their own carbs, lol! Toddlers love activities they can do independently! Anything you can do to keep their little hands (and minds) busy!
Idea #9. Try everything you can think of before you bring out the electronics…
I let my girls put on my lip gloss, lotion, etc, whatever they can find in my purse. (I get my safe, non toxic products here.) I encourage them to color the paper placemat. I pull out any little toy I might have in the diaper bag (my mom suggests little Fisher Price people, army men, etc). If you try every other option first, maybe you will have enough screen time leftover to run an errand after lunch! Or be able to put on a movie for some peace and quiet at home! 🙂 And your kids won’t automatically come to expect apps at every restaurant.
Those are all my ideas- but I wish I had more, lol! There are times when you need an arsenal of ideas just to survive one meal. But I want to encourage you if you feel trapped at home like I did. Even if you feel you’ll never be able to dine peacefully in public, there’s hope! And you don’t have to wait until the kids move out of the house!
Now let me tell you a little more about the award-winning Kidloland app you can enter to win.
KidloLand App Review:
With a paid subscription, nothing is locked…You won’t hear your kids cry about not being able to download a new activity/song/puzzle (because you would have to pay extra for it). Or make them sit through advertisements that convince them to say, “I want that!!”.
This app is seriously fun- it even entertains me! Tap on a juggler at the circus, and he drops all the balls he’s juggling. Or tap on the hippo and he trips into a mud puddle! This is totally my four year old’s sense of humor- and mine! Your kids can do these things with every educational song on the app- extra assurance they won’t be bored!
But it isn’t all slapstick…with more than 260 nursery rhymes and educational songs, they’re learning every step of the way. There’s over 100 games and activities, including puzzles (my two year old loves those!), connect the dots, sorting by color and more! You can also chose activities by themes your kids enjoy- among them are : space, insects, marine animal, farm, vehicles, princess, and lots more!
The app can help teach your child numbers from 1-100, abc’s, phonics, sorting, matching, and months of the year!
There’s also some activities that are just plain fun…like feeding the elephant bunches of bananas. If you’re supervising, you could help your child count the bunches of bananas as the elephant chomps. 🙂
As you play songs on the app, the lyrics are highlighted, turning from black to white. This is a great way to teach early reading skills! But your kids won’t realize they’re learning as they listen to those nursery rhymes.
Enter to win the KidloLand app today! And share this post with your friends so that you can dine peacefully with them too, when you both win a fun, ad-free app for your kids!
The app is available on Apple or Android phones, and is normally $4.99 per month, so the prize value is nearly $15. Five Winners will be chosen!
If you don’t win, you can download the app for yourself and give it a try. (The app is free to download, but you’ll have very limited access to games, songs and activities.) Remember, $5 per month for an app is a lot cheaper than a babysitter! 😉