Before I had kids, I had it all figured out. We’d have a fresh, healthy meal every night promptly at 6 pm. My kids would love veggies so much they’d ask for seconds. Pretty sure I was wearing pearls and lipstick in that daydream, too. Then I actually had kids and realized I have nothing figured out. We’re all damn lucky if we have clean clothes to wear everyday. My days go by in a blur of diaper changes, playdates and carpools; before I know it, we’re on our way home from the evening’s sporting event or school function and I haven’t even thought about dinner. (Dinner? You mean I have to feed them again?!?) Ugh. The kids climb in the car with those hangry scowls on their faces. Beware: if you look at them wrong, they’ll either cry or tear your head off. You’re best to avoid eye contact and get them safely to the nearest food source.
It’s nights like these that Bryce and I look at each other and say, “Hey! Let’s just grab something on our way home.” In theory, it’s a fantastic idea. It’s almost like we’ve never had it backfire on us before. So we go for it. It goes something like this: Enter the restaurant. Sit down. Youngest child climbs out of highchair. Hey, look: crayons! Children fight over the red one. Red crayon breaks. Middle child cries. Order meal. Refuse multiple requests for soda. Oldest child orders soda anyway. Override him and order milk behind his back. Middle child needs to use the bathroom. Take her. Don’t forget to wash. Come back. Wait for the food. Blow the wrappers off of straws and onto nearby tables. Someone spills milk. Usually on my pants. Clean up milk. Grumble about wet pants. Food finally arrives. Eat. Everyone is good as new…like the whole fiasco never happened.
If we could just erase the whole part between sitting down and the food arriving, we’d be fine. That’s when I remembered Noodles & Company. We used to go there all the time when we lived in Cheyenne. There’s actually not a Noodles in Cheyenne. It’s in Fort Collins, CO. But that’s a story for another time. We ended up there quite often because A) it’s good and B) everyone likes it. If I had a penny for all the restaurants where my entire family can eat without complaining, well, I’d have one penny. Another great thing about Noodles & Company? They give the kids a bingo game to play while they wait for their food. Genius.
I figured if I could make a generic printable restaurant bingo game, we might be able to eat out every once in a while in relative peace. Good news: it works! The kids are so busy observing their surroundings that they forget they’re starving/tired/grumpy. I keep extra copies in my glove compartment, because you never know when a restaurant emergency will strike.
I’m sure you’re family is perfect and your children are well-mannered and patient. But just in case they’re not, here’s a free printable for you. If your kids are in fact, perfect, then print some out and give ’em to the rambunctious kids at the next table. Everyone wins.
Click on the image above or go HERE to get your free printable restaurant bingo.