Now that Chico is 2 (and some change) it's getting a lot easier to go out to eat with him. We seem to be past the screaming and not wanting to sit at the table while Adam and I scarf down our food and take turns crying.
Just kidding...kind of.
Our usual safety net is the phone or iPad because honestly he just doesn't eat that much so you can't distract the kid with a plate of food unless he happens to be starving that day. But even the iPad can be problematic if the restaurant doesn't have WiFi because heaven forbid he not be able to watch Peppa or George on Netflix (I know eye rolls).
I decided that I was going to put together a backpack of goodies that will be his to play with only when we go out to eat. This way it is new, fun and exciting for him to dig into his backpack aka "busy bag."
Here's what's in Chico's backpack and keeping us sane:
1. Coloring Book - Target $1 Bin
2. Fisher-Price Doodle Pro Travel - A non-messy way for kids to "draw," especially if you don't wanna deal with crayons getting tossed across the room.
3. Baggie full of plastic dinos, trees and a mountain - Target $1 Bin
4. Kinetic Sand - I know, I know...servers everywhere are giving me major side eye for bringing this into a restaurant but I swear we clean up after ourselves. Plus worst case a little bit gets on the floor and it gets vacuumed up at the end of the day.
5. Sip Snap - This is not Chico's choice it's Mamas. This thing is amazing! It's a universal lid that fits on any cup and turns it into a "sippy cup." Oh and it comes with that carrying case you guys! BPA & Latex free and can stretch onto any cup without leaking. I'm a huge fan because I hate carrying sippy cups with us and Chico plays with straws until water goes everywhere. It's maddening.
6. Hello Magazine by Highlights - Chico has had a subscription to these since Birth. They are great and have laminated pages so if they get food or water on them it wipes right off plus the pages don't tear. Perfect for 0-2.
7. Puppet - Cost Plus World Market - a favorite little gem from his Great Grandma that tends to get lost in the toy shuffle here at home but when he has it outside of the house it really holds his attention!
8. Monster Truck Activity Book - Target $3 Bin - This thing was a total score - it comes with stickers, crayons and is a coloring book too.
9. Thomas Train - Big Lots
10. Mp3 player - Baby Einstein - He's had two of these since birth and believe it or not he's still entertained by it! Best part - it has a volume setting so it's not like you have to choose between LOUD A.F. or off.
11. Pressed Coin Collection - Yup my 2 yr old is 100% nerd just like his Mama! He is obsessed with pressed pennies. This started at our jaunts to Disneyland and has extended anytime we see a penny press machine. He has coins from the zoo, travel town, Little Tokyo, etc! He can sit and examine his collection for a really long time you guys...it's bizarre and amazing all at once.
So there you have it! Maybe you will be inspired to put something together for you tot. You don't have to spend any money on this - just collect some of their favorite stuff that you wouldn't mind keeping in the car at all times. We are trying to make our lives easier - so don't use stuff that your kid is going to miss having inside the house. I would say main pointers would be try to find things that will keep their little hands busy (stickers, drawing, etc), items that aren't crazy loud, and stuff that they can use by themselves or with only minimal help from mom and dad. The point is for them to keep themselves occupied so you can eat!
Have fun with it and remember - this is a frustrating time but won't be forever. There will be a day where we will all be able to eat with our families at a restaurant in some sort of peace without having food and utensils thrown at us or at the poor innocent folks seated next to us.
So until that day - get creative and breathe!