The No Phone Zone: My 5 Faves for Dining Out with Kids

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The No Phone Zone: My 5 Faves for Dining Out with Kids

We go out to eat two, maybe three times a week. My husband and I have always enjoyed dining out together, so when we had kids we continued doing so. As anyone who’s ever gone anywhere with kids knows, going out to eat with children requires some prep work.

The table is a No Phone Zone for us — adults included. That said, we understand that it is natural for our boys, who are seven and four years old, to get bored while waiting for dinner. We meet them where they are. We just do it without devices and in a way that engages our whole family. If you’re tech-free at the table (or if you want to be), behold our five favorite items from our “Restaurant Bag” (which is just a Ziploc I keep in the car and toss in my purse).

  • Pocket Doodles: This handy book lets the kids get creative quickly and mess-free by following a prompt to finish a drawing. Perfect for the table. I love that there are various editions of it, so when we run out of pages, we’ll just buy a new one. Buy it here. 
A page from Pocket Doodles for Kids.
  • Knock Knock On-the-Go Game Pad: I grabbed this little pad as a stocking stuffer last year, and I’m so glad I did. It stays in my purse pocket at the ready for anywhere we might have to wait. This little tablet is packed with templates for Hangman, Dots and Boxes, and more. I picked it up at World Market, but you can also get it on Amazon. 
  • Pass the Pigs: This is a family favorite that started with my husband and I long before we had kids. These cute little pigs act as dice, and scoring depends on their position when rolled. It can be played quickly, and the entire set-up fits in my hand. Check it out here. 
Pig-themed game night! We enjoy Pass the Pigs so much that we regularly play it at home as well.
  • Highlights Hidden Pictures: The Hidden Pictures page was my favorite part of Highlights Magazine when I was a kid. It was so frustrating to get to that page only to discover that some other kid in the doctor’s office had gotten to it before and used a pen. That’s why we love (and they even have holiday themed versions) the dry-erase ones.
  • Ooly pens: I was introduced to these just recently and love them. They write so smoothly, and my kids love that they have so many vibrant color options. Grab some here.

What tricks do you have up your sleeve when you’re waiting with kids? What else do we need in our bag?

Alyson Haggerty
Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their two boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education, earned her BSN, and now works as a pediatric emergency nurse. In her free time, Alyson enjoys flipping furniture, writing, dancing, and painting. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.


  1. We use play packs! They have stickers and crayons and my girls love them! We also don’t use phones out at dinner. Thanks for the extra ideas!


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