Eating out is a treat for the whole family, but keeping the kids entertained at the restaurant can be a challenge. (I can hear you nodding!) In order to keep my kids entertained I employ the Restaurant Backpack.
Filled with a few toys, what makes the contents special is that they can only be played with at a restaurant (or similar place of waiting, like the doctor’s office). That way the toys, the coloring books, the dolls and yes, even the games always seem new and fresh. I had a special restaurant bag when I was little, so when my daughter was about 18 months old I started carrying one for her. Today it is a Restaurant Backpack, and my girls are each proud to carry one.
From time to time, the contents need updating and replacing (to avoid the dreaded empty stickers or full coloring book). Luckily for me, Santa stuffed some great restaurant toys in my girls’ stockings this year. (That guy is so smart.)
Let’s look at the contents of my girls’ Restaurant Backpacks (which are Pottery Barn Kids Mini Backpacks). Oh, and did I mention. With the exception of the electronics, everything is super cheap to keep up.
Mess-free is my number one choice in Restaurant Backpack essentials. (Love me some Crayola Color Wonder!) These mess-free mini activity books were $3 each from the Target Dollar Spot. The Princess-themed reward books (stickers and coloring) were $1 each.
Back in the ’80s, my Restaurant Backpack did not include electronic handheld games, but it’s not 1985 any more! (LOL.) Yes, my daughters only play with the iXL (for my two year old, a hand-me-down from her sister) and the MobiGo (for my 5 year old) in restaurants. We don’t allow a lot of game time, so it works perfect. We have a family iPad they play with at home on the weekends, but mostly I am happy to limit things. And even at restaurants, we have limits.
Sticker books and Play Packs also $1 each from the Target Dollar spot, which is a good thing since the girls go through these pretty quickly.
CRAYONS!!! One of my pet peeves is the wastefulness of restaurant crayons. It drives me crazy that kids get crayons they use once and toss. So my solution is the Princess crayon bag. When I can, I reject the offer of crayons (from well-meaning wait staff), but often we get crayons. After we use them, we keep them. Every crayon. Until the bag is bulging. Then I purge, and the leftovers (used only once or twice) are either melted into fun crayons or donated to a local kids charity. Clearly, our crayon bag has seen better days.
See those stringy things? Those are Wikki Stix. Wikki rock! They are basically wax covered pieces of string that can be molded to form fun shapes. We actually got these at a restaurant (instead of crayons) and now they live in the backpack. I figure when they get gross, we will buy new ones — the girls love them. Wikki Stix – get them!
Clearly I have daughters, and my girls love to play with little dolls. The Sofia the First doll is 5 inches tall, the others are about 3 inches, which makes them a perfect fit for the backpack. (The other princesses were a clearance find from the Disney Store several years ago, $3 each!)
So there you have it. That’s how I keep my girls entertained at restaurants. The girls’ backpacks are kept in the garage on a hook by the car so they are always ready to go. That way everyone has what they need and want for a happy dinner time!
Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families says
This is a great idea. I also try to avoid going out to eat during nap time. 🙂
Kim @ What's That Smell? says
This is such a simple idea and utterly BRILLIANT.
Thanks Kim, it has been my lifesaver for the last 4 years 🙂