Going to a restaurant with children can seem like a daunting experience.
The best offence is a good defence. That means you need to head the tantrums and tears off before they start. So a restaurant survival kit packed with stuff to distract children from boredom, the main cause of restaurant meltdowns, is a good plan.
I find as long as we have a series of distractions up our sleeve to please our toddler and baby, we can get through a meal pretty well. Now that my toddler is eating off the kids’ menu that provides a great distraction as she feels part of the meal. Plus she knows she will likely get ice cream at the end.
I still bring a few light snacks for her, just in case the food is really slow and she gets impatient.
One of the key things for surviving a meal out with your children, and managing to take a bite of food yourself, is picking the right venue. I feel less self-conscious in places like Prezzo, Nando’s and Cafe Rouge as loads of other people have noisy children with them. We give each other knowing looks in solidarity at our bravery for attempting the meal out! Another brilliant family place is the Alto Lounge. They’re a lovely chain and our closest venue in Reading, Berkshire, is amazing. It’s always noisy and the kids menu is a hit with my toddler. Find out more here.
So once the venue is picked, here are the things I make sure I pack in my bag:
Crayola Colour Wonder set. Colouring and drawing are the most amazing distraction. But who wants the stress of stopping their children from drawing on the tablecloth, table, chair, etc. These magic pens don’t mark anything except the magic paper! Genius. Find it here.
Small books. A few little board books are light to carry and won’t get crushed or ripped in the changing bag. These Paddington Bear books are perfect for babies and toddlers. Find it here.
Activity toy. Anything that attaches to the buggy is perfect as it saves trying to cram it in your changing bag with all the nappies, wipes and extra clothes. I love this Hungry Caterpillar activity toy as both my children are really into the book. There’s lots to look at on this toy and I think it would keep my baby happy for a good few minutes at least. Find it here.
Crayola Doodle Magic Travel Pack. Similar to the magic pens although these will mark other stuff so you do need to pay close attention to where your child is scribbling! But I love that it’s so easy to transport and the wipe clean board means it can be used again and again, unlike a colouring book. Find it here.
Tiny Love Flip Cube. I love that this packs down into a small cube but has loads of things to do. Find it here.
Sophie La Giraffe. Is there anyone who doesn’t own a Sophie? We’ve ended up with two to avoid arguments over who gets her. If all else fails with babies, something to chew on is generally a good idea! My youngest is teething at the moment and so gnawing on Sophie’s legs really helps her. Find it here.
Do you have any tips or products that help keep your children amused in a restaurant?