Invited to a meal out but have to take the kids? Dreading it? Considering finding an excuse? Once in a while most of us are invited to a family meal, a birthday dinner or a coffee with friends or family. For some, that fills us with dread, something to absolutely be avoided especially with toddlers and preschoolers. However, for others it is a breeze in the park. You know, the kids sit nicely and aren’t running around the restaurant, Starbucks or even the airport. Yes, these are my tips which also work for holidays and crucially actually enjoying meals in resteraunts on holiday. Yes, it’s simple but even helps the kids sitting nicely on a plane. Yes, even my hyper, love to run around kids have sat fairly entertained in all these situations, 2 hours flights, 4 hour flights, long haul… How?
My big (not so secret) secret to a happy meal with kids in a restaurant?
Have a ‘go bag’ ready with everything your child needs when out and about, spare clothes, pants/nappies, wipes and a few extra essentials to get you through most situations when kids could run around crazy, be loud at inappropriate times and just be kids. We’re not trying to stop that, just enable you to have that conversation, actually eat your food without leaving the restaurant and your food on the table, or speak to the doctor at your appointment.
Pack colouring books and sheets, crayons and pencils
Yes, of course many places out and about have colouring packs for kids, our local Greene King pub, McDonalds, and even the carpet shop we popped into at the weekend. If you’re local to Cheltenham it’s the one behind Gallagher Retail park directly behind, Homesense and Greggs.
We were kindly sent some colouring sheets by Keeko Kids, who supply the hospitality industry with bespoke and off-the-shelf colouring products so children can enjoy passive play out and about. They even supply Mcdonalds and other brands with bulk pencils and crayons, their signature colouring in boards, activity packs, colouring sheets and even paper lunch bags to colour in. I know we’ve used some of these before in Mcdonalds – their colouring in boards which have thoroughly entertained the kids while we wait for our food. Having a variety of colouring in and puzzles for H (who is 5) is fab and has kept both H and B, and their friends, busy for a few weeks now. Aka. We’ve had some nice quiet coffee breaks recently.
Keeko Kids mention on their website that they supply Mcdonalds, Carluccios, Hollywood Bowl, M&S cafes among many others, and if you’re planning a wedding, theg have free kids colouring sheets for Weddings you could download for your guests with kids. They do really supply corporate clients, small and large businesses which may interest anyone with a cafe or business which kids visit.
A bag of small toys
Yes, you know those magazine toys, Mcdonalds toys and just bits and bobs you seem to accumulate? They are perfect for your toy bag. B’s toy bag is this little bag from a charity shop, but we’ve used a pencil case and sponge bag in the past. Sponge bag, might also be called toiletry bag…. (hubby thinks I’m weird saying sponge bag!).
Keep this small toy bag in your toddler/preschooler/kids backpacks, so they always have a few toys to play with. A few dinosaurs from magazines, a Secret Life of Pets dog from McDonalds, Peppa Pig camera from a magazine. H actually has My Little Ponies from one of these Busy Books in hers. They’re perfect, but it’s a good idea to know exactly how many toys you have so you know you haven’t lost that one they’ve just become absolutely totally and utterly attached to.
Basically, your kids toy bag consists of what some people say are toys which should be banned, ‘useless plastic’… these toys are probably used more than most in our house, pretty much day in day out. We do cycle the toys every so often so they’re not always the same, and it keeps the girls and their friends busy and happy. Their imaginations run wild as their dinosaurs play with ponies and Waffle the dog.
McDonald’s actually have this sorted; the kids sit nicely. Just having colouring and a toy, makes the world of difference, and, in our house, that is the principal we live by. We take colouring and some toys everywhere.
You never know when that bag of little toys or colouring book might come in useful, at Disney World queue waiting on mummy and daddy Rider Swapping at Tower of Terror, meeting your NCT friends at Costa, a family wedding or a dinner at the pub.
Actually our friends often have their own toy bags with them too, so they each know what the other might have. Swapping and playing together. It’s brilliant for teaching sharing too.
Anyhoo, back to my coffee now, as I’m sure we’re due a toilet break and the girls will be getting restless…. yes this is a winner, but it does still have a time limit with a 2 year old. Of course, once the colouring/drawing phase kicks in, along with the real attention span, they can colour all day! And, I might get a lot more blogging done too!
Disclaimer: all colouring supplies and sheets pictured were gifted by Keeko Kids, everything else is our own, bought by us.
Keeko Kids specialise in bespoke and off-the-shelf kids colouring products for businesses. Products include their signature kids colouring boards, activity packs, colouring sheets and crayons! All Keeko products are created to add value to businesses and keep children entertained and happy! Keeko has worked within the hospitality industry for over 20 years, with a variety of different businesses from small independent venues to large chains! Visit their website to find out how they can add value to your business, to enhance your offering to families and encourage them to keep visiting your business for years to come!