5 Ways to Help Kids Wait (in a restaurant)

Fun Activities that are Screen Free

By Nicole Hickoff-Publisher Macaroni Kid Williamsport April 26, 2021

Who doesn't love going out to eat somewhere?  Someone else to cook, bring your food, and clean up!  Sign me up!


I love going out to lunch or dinner with my husband and kiddos.  However, the wait time for our meal can be a challenge. 

Mommy when will our food be here?  

Mommy, I am so hungry!  

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy...Daddy, Daddy, Daddy 

Phrases I hear often, and I am sure you do too while out attempting to enjoy a meal.  


I am here to give you some great ideas and activities to do with the kids or for them to do on their own, that do not involve a cell phone or tablet.  And they are kid-tested, parent-approved!


🍽️ Activity 1:  What's Missing Game

We learned this game from our furry friend Daniel Tiger!  Each of us takes a turn taking something from the table and hiding it.  Then, we tell everyone they can open their eyes.  Each participant looks around the table to see what is missing.  The first to comment on the correct item gets to go first next.  Sometimes, we just take turns hiding and guessing the missing item.  This has saved us from countless meltdowns and tantrums! DT would be so proud!


πŸ•΅οΈ Activity 2: I Spy

A classic game that is great in the car or in a restaurant.  Another activity we do if the wait for our lunch or dinner is taking too long for the littles.  How to play: One person spies something.  Then they say "I spy something green."  Everyone takes a turn guessing what the object is.  The correct guesser goes next.  Or,  we take turns! (With 2 toddlers, who are exactly the same age, we do this often.)


πŸ–οΈ Activity 3: Coloring Books

Coloring books have been and continue to be a saving grace for us!  I have a bag in the car dedicated to coloring books, crayons, markers, and wipes (of course).  When arriving at a restaurant we make sure to pull out the bag and take it into the establishment.  Since Covid, most places don't have crayons or pages anymore, or depending on the restaurant they never offered in the first place, so we have learned to be prepared!  

πŸ€” Activity 4: Alphabet Game

This is a game that was taught to me while traveling a long distance somewhere, probably only to the mall (but to me it was a long-distance). The Alphabet Game is simple and can be changed to fit the mood.  How to play: Start at the beginning of the Alphabet (or to make it more interesting, start at the end).  The first player begins by saying, "I am going on a picnic and I am going to take (name something that starts with the first letter) an Apple."  The next person repeats the phrase and then adds in the next letter: "I am going on a picnic and I am going to take (repeat the first item) and a banana."  This continues till you get to the end.  A great game to test memory.  For younger kids, you may need to tell them the item (apple) or just leave out the repeating part of the game.  Then at the end see how many items they can remember!  A fun game indeed and sure helps to pass the time!


✏️ Activity 5: Play HangMan

Who doesn't remember playing HangMan as a child?!  It was a favorite of mine and I am excited to modify it to play with my kids at a restaurant.  How to play: The first player selects a word or phrase, then draws dashes to represent the word or phrase.  The next player guesses a letter for the word or phrase, if they are wrong the first player starts to add to the HangMan drawing and it is the next player's turn.  If the player is correct, the letter is added and the guessing continues.  [Modification for younger kids: Instead of a word, think of a shape.  Player one will think of a shape.  Then they will begin to draw it, one side at a time.  Each player takes a guess on what it is. Play continues till the right shape is guessed.]


With Covid restrictions lifting and more people getting vaccinated; you may be ready to head to a restaurant as a family.  Take Macaroni Kid Williamsport's "5 Ways to Help Kids Wait" and enjoy some fun time waiting!  

Looking for kid-friendly restaurants?  Here are our favorite restaurants!  


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