Devices at dinner is one of my biggest pet peeves. EVER. I know, I know, I sound like I’m on my super tall soap box here, but without hopefully sounding all old-fashioned, it is something that drives me absolutely bananas! Keep reading to see how I’ve entertained my kids while dining out device free for the past ten years!
Our kids are older now (9, 8 and 6), but even from the beginning I instituted the “No Devices at Dinner” policy and have yet to break it. Has it always been easy? NO, definitely not, and probably more work for me than anyone else. Our kids also don’t have devices at home, so it really wasn’t a difficult policy for us to start, but trust me when I say there were times when I wished I could have sat them in front of that lovely screen for a few seconds of peace and quiet at the table!
I always bring a bag of good old-fashioned “things to do” with me to dinner. I keep a bunch of things in our mudroom by the door to the garage so I can grab something on our way out. I rotate in old items and sometimes add in some new. I try to keep it fresh. They are always curious about what will be in the bag. Sometimes I even keep a bag in the car in case we are out and about. I have accumulated a pretty large stash at this point of things to keep everyone occupied. Sometimes I take my fancy monogrammed bag filled with things, and other times (like the family vacation I’m on as I’m writing this post), it’s my giant designer Ziploc bag pictured below (both have yet to let me down!)
What are some of my favorites, you might ask, or what’s in my bag right now? Currently I have plain white paper, markers and twistable crayons, stickers, a dinosaur activity book, and a card game. White paper and stickers are ALWAYS a crowd favorite.
Since I’ve purchased a lot of things for my kids to do during dinner over the years (some hits and some misses), here’s list of some of the big winners in our family:
- Make a Face Sticker Pad: the sillier the face, the better!
- Wikki Stix: because everyone likes making a pair of spectacles to wear at dinner!
- Travel Spirograph: ok, this one even kept me entertained!
- Water Wow: anything that involves water is always a hit for my kids.
- Travel Etch-a-Sketch: this old favorite keeps them entertained.
- Markers and Paper in a Case: easy to transport and stores everything you need.
- Liquid Motion Bubblers: kids will get a kick out of watching these go.
- Plus Plus Mini Maker Tubes: my kids never make the design, but always love hooking these Tetris-like pieces together.
- Mad Libs: little ones will need help with this, but they love making a silly sounding story!
- Paint by Sticker: the whole family can help make a puzzle together.
- Classic Dolphin Ring Game: I played this game as a kid, and my kids love it too.
- Triangle Peg Game: fun for the whole family!
- Hidden Pictures: kids of all ages will love doing this.
Some things that didn’t work well for us: travel table tennis (duh), anything with loud noises or sounds that disturb other diners, and expensive things you need to have all the pieces for (you will inevitably lose some).
Sometimes you get lucky and restaurants have things to occupy kids (that white butcher block paper at Italian restaurants is the best!), but sometimes you forget the bag of things AND they don’t have anything for kids. What’s a mom to do?
Eye Spy, with My Little Eye, of course!
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