Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Dining Out with Little Ones | Family Economics
When my children were younger, waiting for a meal while dining out could become difficult at times when boredom struck. It took a bit of savvy entertaining at the table to keep little ones busy and non-disruptive to other guests when free coloring sheets and crayons were unavailable.
One of our best successes with eating out with children was when we allowed our son to bring his little plastic dump truck into the restaurant. He spent the entire time quietly loading and unloading the sugar and sweetener packets from container to table. He was so preoccupied we finally had to convince him to eat his meal.
My big sister taught me how to play the "shell" game with little packets of jam—my favorite breakfast-diner pastime. If your table has jelly packs labeled on the top but identical on the bottom, choose two of the same flavor and one different, such as two strawberry jellies and one grape jelly. Show your child the three packets with labels turned upright and ask him to keep an eye on the grape jelly. Turn them over and begin to slowly shuffle them around each other while the child tries to follow the grape one with his eyes. When you stop, ask him to guess which packet is the grape jelly. If he gets good at guessing, speed up the shuffle! This can also work with sugar packets if you mark one of them with an X before turning over. When done, use the jelly on your toast and sugar in your tea.
"I Spy" is a fantastic game played with soft voices. Children can play together while the grownups visit, looking around the restaurant and naming characteristics of an object they see for the other child to try to find. "I spy with my little eye...something round and shiny." Or print out an "I Spy" sheet found here to keep tucked in your purse for just such an occasion.