An Unexpected Restaurant Bag Win!

Towards the end of the summer, we took a family trip to Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. If you’ve never been, those 3 national parks are just as breathtaking as you might imagine them to be… And giant sequoia trees are indeed gigantic. So much bigger than the redwoods we see somewhat regularly close to our home! But, this post isn’t about that trip… Instead, it’s about another new and very simple addition to my restaurant and waiting room “go” bag — watercolor paints!

Last spring, I wrote about how we always have a tote bag close to the door, loaded with various books and activities for the girls, easy to grab in case we are heading somewhere where they may need to wait or be entertained for a bit. We usually take it with us to restaurants, but we also grab it for doctors’ offices, siblings’ practices or classes, and car repair shops. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ll be adding our Alphabet Go Fish game to this “go bag” rotation, and today, I’m here to let you know that watercolors are amazing to toss in, too!

I know, you might be thinking that watercolor paints are too messy to take to public places! And true, they can indeed be messy… I wouldn’t toss this one in the bag to go to a doctor’s office (especially if it’s not a pediatric doctor…). But, I had taken two watercolor palettes and mini notebooks on our recent trip to use in our cabins and hotel rooms when we needed some quiet time. One day, I decided to take the watercolors and small notebooks to dinner with us, and it went over so well that they made an appearance at almost every meal the rest of the trip!


I found that our servers were more than happy to bring us an extra kid’s cup of water for the watercolors, and the one time the water spilled, our waitress was also more than happy to bring us extra napkins. When it comes down to it, I’m sure they’d all much rather deal with a small chance of a washable mess than children disturbing the other patrons!

I’m not sure if it was the novelty of painting in a restaurant, the fact that painting a picture takes a little more thought and patience than coloring with markers, the concept of having a special notebook simply for their paintings, or all of the above, but the watercolor palettes were a huge “go bag” hit! So… do you think you’d be brave enough to try it? Remember, you’d give your kids the chance not only to be creative, but to learn how to contain their messes and politely ask waitstaff for cups or water (and maybe extra napkins!)!

What’s the messiest thing you’ve ever given your children to play with in a restaurant?

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