What do you do with your kids when there is a long dinner to sit through?
I know of some who bring DVD players or laptops to entertain their kids. Others bring electronic games (eg gameboy). I, for one, am totally against it. It is difficult to get a young child to sit through a long dinner, I agree. But if you try, it can work. It is difficult initally, but perserverence will win the day. But I notice some will just take the easy way out and say that their kids cant sit thru' a meal, and those electronic gadgets come out the minute they arrive, and remains on the table until it is time to go home!
I bought a DVD player for little D, but most of the time, I dont even let her watch it. Why? Studies have shown that too much tv for young children is no good. Also with those electronic games, I feel that the kids become "anti-social". They are so engrossed with the game that they become oblivious to everything around them. Sometimes, they dont even know what they are eating! It becomes addictive too after a while.
For my older children, what we used to do was to bring lots of drawing/coloured paper, and colour pencils / crayons for them to draw. If it was someone's birthday / wedding, they would make a card while waiting for food. If not, they were free to draw as they wish. As they got older, we changed it to puzzle / activity books, and subsequently story books /novels. That way they could entertain themselves without getting restless. Now, I dont even need to bring anything to entertain them. They are able to sit thru 3 hour meals with no problems.
With little D, I have yet to start on the drawing (as she still cant draw) but we are into educational sticker books. She loves them, but they can be quite expensive. I bring the DVD player occasionally, but it doesnt get brought out until I really have no choice. I find that for a 2 and a half hour dinner, she is able to sit through at least an hour and a half without fussing. She learns to socialise as well as learn good table etiquette. And the best part is - she knows her food!
Do give my suggestions a try!