Are you one of those parents that kissed restaurants goodbye once you had kids? Is it too much stress worrying about your kids making a mess or causing a scene? Do you only go to kid friendly restaurants if you do decide to take the chance? If you answered yes to these, you’re going to want to pay attention.
Bringing a toddler to a restaurant can be as hellish as you imagine, but it doesn’t have to be. You could make yourself a restaurant survival kit for kids and kiss your worries goodbye instead of your nights out.
A restaurant survival kit is the better, less zombie-inducing, alternative to putting them in front of the tablet. These kits contain small, entertaining toys and activities for your child to play with during dinner so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your meal.
You could put anything you want in this kit for your kids, but here are a few of my top suggestions.
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Sure, restaurants have crayons, but they’re always those super cheap, waxy ones that don’t work right. If you want to keep your child focused on coloring, it’s best to have a crayon that works and doesn’t break under their enormous toddler pushing pressure.
Queue Crayola Twistables Crayons. These crayons are like mechanical pencils in that the outside is plastic and the bottom of the crayon can be spun to expose more or less crayon. No more worrying about broken crayons!
Learning Opportunity: play “find the color” with your child to help build up their color recognition skills
If you have crayons, you’re going to need some coloring pages. These days, you can print them from the Internet, or go old-school and grab a few sheets out of a coloring book.
For older toddlers, the puzzle pages are a lot of fun. They can hold your child’s attention for a longer period of time compared to simply coloring and they present your child with more learning opportunities.
This is one of my all-time favorite toys for kids. It has the molding benefits of Playdoh without the mess! Discovery Putty™ also comes with fun little shapes inside that your child can work on pulling out.
Check out my article Improving Fine Motor Skills – Discovery Putty™ for the Win for a more detailed description.
Learning Opportunity: Each putty tin comes with it’s own set of fun little objects. You can play I Spy to work on identification skills and carefully removing each piece works on your child’s fine motor skills.
Magnets are always fun. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Your kids can watch them move towards and away from each other.
Depending on the type of carrying case you use, you may or may not need a magnet wand. If you have something metal, the magnets can stick right to it. If you don’t, a magnet wand would allow your child to pick up other magnets and small metal objects.
Learning Opportunity: If you get the letter magnets, you can work on letter identification or spelling out simple words.
Little animal figures, action figures, or small cars are a must-have for this survival kit. These will allow your child to engage in pretend play, which can keep them occupied for long periods of time.
I’m a huge Marvel nerd, so I’m partial to the Playskool Marvel set. Your child can play superhero and defeat the evil enemies of the universe.
An Old Deck of Cards
This is just something fun that can be played around with if they get bored with the other toys.
Learning Opportunities: It might not be the first toy your toddler grabs out of their survival kit, but it poses some great learning opportunities. You can work on numbers and counting as well as patterns (black, red, black, red).
Kids love stickers! They love working hard trying to peel the sticker off of the paper and then finding the exact right space to put it. All of this concentration means quiet time for you!
I’ve seen some really awesome ideas for carrying cases, but these are my favorite:
- Your child can pick out their favorite character
- Easy to carry
- Magnets stick right to the box
- Can be loud
- Might not fit everything you want
Old Baby Wipe Container
- Kids can have fun putting toys through the slit in the top
- Can use magnet wand to search for magnets through the slit
- Makes less noise than metal lunchbox
- Might not be big enough to fit everything you want
Fold-Up Travel Case/Makeup Case
- More space to fit everything you could want and need
- Folds up neatly
- Has handles for easy carrying
- No fun design for your child to pick out
- Can be a bit large and space consuming
These Kits are a Must!
Don’t give up on dining out just because you’re worried about the kids. Make yourself a restaurant survival kit and keep your child entertained through the entire meal. These kits are a much better alternative to tablets because they don’t foster screen dependence and they provide all kinds of learning opportunities.
Make yourself a survival kit today and if you find something that works well for your kids, let us know by commenting below!