"I'm sorry but the kitchen is really busy. So I'm afraid you will have to wait approximately 30 minutes for your food to arrive", said the waitress through her smile as she collected the menus from our table. Well okay, maybe in not so perfect English but I could have sworn her smile was almost an apologetic one as her attention shifted to the 3 restless monkies seated with the wifey and me. I let out a muffled sigh and think, “Patience, Kelvin. Patience."
It’s during times like these that I yearn for things to keep my monkies busy while we are stuck waiting and everyone's patience is wearing thin. And save for yanking out that smartphone or tablet, I would like to think there are better (and more people-friendly) options out there... such as a collection of games to play with your kids while waiting for the food to arrive at the restaurant.
Here's a really fun way to play the classic game of Tic-Tac-Toe. Get 4 straws - or disposable wooden chopsticks will do nicely too - and arrange them into a grid. Use sugar and creamer packets as markers and play away!
2. The ABC Game
Pick a topic like cartoons, movies, animals, food, etc. First person starts by choosing a word that begins with 'A' in the selected category. The next person continues by selecting a word that begins with 'B' in the same category and so on. The game keeps going until you get to the end of the alphabet. Want to make it even more challenging? Have each person remember everything the person before had said and add on their chosen word in the alphabetical order. Whoever fails to remember all the words will be out of the game.
3. Dots Game (or Capture the Squares)
The objective of the game is to connect the dots so as to get as many squares as possible. Draw a grid of dots (10 by 10 is a good size) on a serviette and space the dots a centimetre apart. Take turns drawing either a vertical or horizontal line between dots. The person who completes a square gets to put his/her initials in the square. When all the dots have become squares, count the initialed boxes. Whoever has the most wins!
4. Let’s Tell a Story
This should be nothing new but it is definitely a great way to pass the time. One person gets the ball rolling by making up the beginning of a story. The next person picks up and starts adding to the story. With kids, you can be sure that the story is bound to get sillier and sillier but that's the beauty of it, no? Not to mention it might just aid in the kids having to think creatively!
5. Memory Game
Make full use of the objects on the dining table! Arrange a group of objects (salt and pepper shakers, sauce bottles, etc) in the middle of the table. Give your child 10 seconds - or more if he/she is younger - to take a good look at the objects on the table and then tell him/her to turn away. Remove an object (or two) and see if your child can tell you which object/s is/are missing.
6. Memory Game #2
Ran of of items to display on the table? Then test your child's observation skills in this memory game variation. Choose a direction in the restaurant for him/her to stare for 20-30 seconds. Then have them turn around and take turns to say out the names of everything they remember seeing in that direction. Whoever is stumped when it comes to their turn loses.
7. Origami Fortune Teller
Now this is something that has survived the test of time. The wifey and I distinctly remember playing with this when we were kids too and our fond memories of this simple paper toy were given a jolt when Ash brought this home one fine day after school. All you need a a piece of paper and a pen. For a step-by-step guide on folding one and how to play, see HERE.
8. The Telephone Game
This game is ideally played with a larger group of kids. Whisper a fairly long phrase into the ear of the first child and have he/she then whisper what the exact phrase into the next person’s ear. Have the last person in the chain to say the phrase aloud and see how much of it has changed! Cue giggles and laughter all around.
Hopefully, these no-fusss games will keep your kids adequately entertained the next time you are stuck waiting for the food at a restaurant. Come to think of it, most of these games are good for passing the time while waiting, be it at the clinic, on long road trips in the car or stuck in the long queues at the supermarket. Do try them, they'll do wonders for your sanity.
And if you have any other waiting games to share, do leave them in the comments! I’m always open to new and fun ideas to keep the monkies entertained. :)