Most of us have probably been guilty of using our smartphones as a kind of babysitting device. While going out to eat on a Friday night after a long work week sounds pretty glorious to us adults, if your toddler isn’t in the mood, waiting in the lobby for a table to open up can quickly turn into an attention-drawing rodeo of screaming, crying, and embarrassment. While it’s easy to distract your toddler by handing over your phone, there are still some tried and true games you can play with them that don’t require an electronic device. During your next night out (or long road trip), try some of these old school past times.
Most of us can probably remember playing 20 questions at some point in our lives. It’s a perfect choice for keeping younger children entertained, just remember to keep it simple. For example, try to focus on farm animals that your kids are familiar with and have them guess which animal you are (do you eat hay? Do you lay eggs?)
Guess The Missing Item
The next time you’re out at a restaurant and the food is taking a little longer than usual to come out, try this game to keep your toddler occupied. Place several items on the table in front of you (fork, spoon, salt shaker, sugar packet, etc.) Give your child 30 seconds to carefully study everything on the table, then cover everything up with a napkin. Reach under and remove one of the items without your child seeing, remove the napkin, then see if they can tell you which item is missing. Rinse and repeat!
Here’s another one that requires zero additional supplies. The great thing about “I Spy” is that you can increase the difficulty as your child gets older and their comprehension increases. For example, you can always start out with simple parameters like “I spy something red.” Even the youngest kids should have no problem spotting red objects around them and guessing. When they’re older, you can up the ante with “I spy something that starts with the letter ‘L’”. When they’re pursuing their graduate degree at MIT, you can try “I spy something with an aluminum and copper conductivity to weight ratio of 6 to 1.”