Both of our kids hit 18 months and became TERRORS to take to restaurants. They boycotted the highchair, wanted to walk around, and were basically savages. This lasted a few months for each of them but left my husband and I scarred so now we are always over-prepared when taking our little angels (beasts) out to eat anywhere other than Whole Foods (this counts as a restaurant in our book...they serve wine!) These are some of the ways we "try" to prevent meltdowns so we can enjoy our meal and adult beverage in peace!
Travel Marker Set - I bought this travel marker set before a flight last year and was thouroughly impressed with how entertaining it was for my daughter. She is obsessed with coloring and prefers markers to crayons (messier is always more fun for her!) so I now bring this set when we go out to eat! She loves to take each color out and snap it back in when she's done. My son is getting into games like tic tac toe now, so he is also a big fan!
Interlocking Bricks - We discovered these interlocking bricks in the dollar section at Target and my kids LOVED them. You can create endless designs with them and easy to throw in your purse or diaper bag.
Hedgehog Toy - This adorable little hedgehog toy was another pre-flight purchase that has transitioned into a restaurant toy! We bought it for our daughter, but discovered our son loved it too! It has numbers on the holes, so he has fun putting the pegs in order! It's self-contained too which a big win for toys on the go!
Mini Train Set - I cannot say enough good things about this Mini Train Set! We've had ours for 2 years now and still use it constantly. My son is train obsessed, but even our daughter who could care less about any vehicle loves connecting these little trains. We bring this case when we're going to festivals, restaurants, traveling etc. and it's perfect for lots of kids to play with! The trains are super inexpensive so replacing lost pieces (which is inevitable) is no biggie!
Word Games - Now that my son is 4, we've started playing more word games at restaurants and in the car. He loves "Eye Spy" and my daughter will just shout the colors so it's a family affair. We also have been practicing what words start with each letter of the alphabet and he loves it because he thinks its a game. It's fun to see how much he remembers too and it's something you can do anywhere.
Lollipops - Probably not the most nutritious time saver but when you know you are going to have a long wait for your meal or your kids have finished their meals and you still have a full plate and glass of wine, a lollipop is just what the doctor ordered. I try and hide a few in my diaper bag (the little savages turn into bloodhounds when searching for treats) for these types of emergencies. We try and buy these organic ones but Dum Dums often are the sucker of choice for my kiddos!
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