Eating out with little kids can be tough (okay, sometimes torture). I think there was an entire year where my husband and I never went to a restaurant with our little girls; it just wasn’t worth it. I was constantly picking up whatever the baby dropped – her food, sippy cup, a knife (whoops) – all while trying to get our toddler to stay still AND trying to sip a glass of wine. Oof.

In my family, we do our best to avoid iPads and phones at the table. I’m not judging at all — the Endless Alphabet app saved us on many an occasion! But now that my girls are of an age where they can talk and play games, I just  love this no-screen option:

We never leave home without our Boogie Board LCD writing and drawing tablets.

This product is so awesome, the team at Cool Mom Picks even named it one of the 26 best car games and activities to keep kids busy without screens. And there’s so much we can do with it to keep our kids entertained in restaurants!

CME is an Amazon affiliate

Related: How to skip the kids menu without breaking the budget: Tips every parent should know.

Eating out with little kids: The one toy I can't leave home without. | © Jane Sweeney Cool Mom Eats

Eating out with little kids: The one toy I can't leave home without. | © Jane Sweeney Cool Mom Eats

The Rainbow Scribble n Play Boogie Board version that my kindergartener now loves

Our favorite game to make dinner fun is a version of “20 Questions.”

The kids (or Mommy and Daddy) have to draw a living thing and then we ask a series of questions: “Does it live in the ocean?” “Have we seen it at the zoo?” Is it bigger than your nose?”

Keep going until someone guesses it right.

The magic of this game is that our toddler, who can’t really draw that well (or who forgets what we talked about a nanosecond earlier), still loves to make silly guesses and gets excited when someone answers correctly. And then eventually – hopefully – they do their own doodling and you get a minute of peace.

Eating out with little kids: The one toy I can't leave home without. | © Jane Sweeney Cool Mom Eats

Even if you lose the stylus pen, you can use almost anything to draw!

But if you still haven’t finished your entrée or beer and the kids start to get antsy, you can do so much more.

Draw a squiggle and let the kids turn it into anything at all. All kids love this because you can’t fail. Let them just go crazy and free-draw. Have them practice their letters or numbers or just writing their names.

Definitely beats finding your smartphone smeared with guacamole at the end of a meal.

Find the Boogie Board LCD writing and drawing tablets at our affiliate Amazon. The small version is perfect for small hands!

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