When my kids were little it took a lot of planning for me and my hubby to go out to eat. Luckily, we had some good tricks up our sleeves for keeping our wild toddlers tame long enough for us to finish a meal. Below I’m going to share some of those tricks with you, so your next dinner out can be a huge success!

Rules Chart

restaurant rules chart for kidsI created a handy rules chart with pictures and statements to remind my kids how to behave. (Rules were talk quietly, stay in your seat, no crying or whining, no throwing food) but you can add your own. Before heading to the restaurant I’d pull out a chart and go over the rules one by one. Then at the restaurant I’d place the chart on the table. If one of my girls started to break a rule, I’d say “hey, you’re breaking a rule” and I’d ask her to show me which rule she was breaking by pointing to that rule on the chart. That’s called a “pattern interrupt” where you redirect a child’s thoughts to something else and it interrupts and stops their bad behavior. That worked like a charm.


Entertainment

I also went armed with something that would keep my children entertained. I’d let them sit there with no entertainment until they started getting antsy and then I’d break out the cool kids toy. I had a box of toys that I’d choose from, so that each restaurant outing was a little different. At the restaurant I kept the toys in a bag until it was entertainment time. At home I kept the restaurant toys tucked away in a closet, so my kids could only play with them when we were out to eat.

Below are a few kids toys you could get for your restaurant toy stash. These toys are great for toddlers and they’re designed to keep them entertained for long periods of time…allowing you to get through an entire dinner in peace!

Large Farm Wooden Puzzle Melissa and DougThe Large Farm Jumbo Wooden Knob Puzzle by Melissa & Doug has easy-to-grasp puzzle pieces in many shapes and colors. Each puzzle piece has the name of the shape on it as well. Your child can dump all the pieces out on the table then try to match the shapes of the puzzle piece to the same shape on the puzzle board. This is a great way to help a child learn about shapes, names of shapes and color recognition, plus kids love to do this puzzle over and over again, so it’s a perfect toy to add to your restaurant entertainment stash. This puzzle is great for kids 1 year and up.


KidKraft Bead MazeAnother wonderful kids toy is the KidKraft Bead Maze. This is also perfect for kids one year and up. This is an educational toy that will teach your child about shapes and colors as he pushes the different shaped beads along the maze. It also helps enhance a child’s hand/eye coordination, while keeping him mesmerized long enough for your family to get through a meal.


Bug Jug Fill and Spill by Melissa & DougFor the younger tot consider getting the Bug Jug Fill and Spill by Melissa and Doug. This is a fun toy set that comes with soft, silly looking bugs and a soft jug. Your child will be thrilled to take each bug out of the jug only to put them all back in over and over again. The silly bugs are also sure to inspire some pretend play with the butterfly flittering in the air, the spider creeping on the table, the grasshopper jumping around etc…This kids toy will stimulate your child’s senses and keep him occupied long enough for you to scarf down your pasta.


If you’re a high tech kind of family you can also check out some really cool apps for the ipad for babies, toddlers and bigger kids at http://gizmodo.com/5532261/the-best-ipad-apps-for-babies-toddlers-and-sanity+loving-parents.


Remember…kids have short attention spans, so getting armed with toys and rule charts can buy you enough time to make it through an entire meal in peace!

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