5 ways to entertain your children when you have to wait
Lately we’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Doctor’s Offices. From the Optometrist for my eldest to the E.N.T. for my youngest, we’ve been racking up hours in a waiting game we have no choice but to play. As the visits became more and more frequent, I knew I would have to find a way, or many ways, to entertain my children in those waiting rooms – without losing my own mind!
Waiting and children rarely mix well
Kids are blessed with many great qualities, unfortunately, a vast well patience is normally not among them. This is completely normal and age appropriate, yet it can make for some rather painful waiting room or line experiences. So what is a tired parent to do?
There is always the phone option, and I will admit that there have been several trips when I have handed off the tiny screen with a sigh, knowing it was a poor idea, yet too tired to tackle other, more creative, solutions. I know I will probably still employ this tactic again (in moderation), yet as more and more time is spent in waiting rooms, the thought of adding that much screen time each and every time is unappealing.
Thankfully, there are other, non screen related, things to try.
1: “I Spy”
This is one of my girls favorite games, and with good reason. It is simple and it changes as they do. A couple years ago, I always spied the sky, but now we’ve progressed to more complicated targets, like signs, particular pieces of clothes or even a piece of artwork. They love it, and I love watching their minds work.
2: Get moving!
My kids love to jump, dance, spin and run. If, and that is a big IF, we are in a place where we can move our bodies, we do. A quiet area of a waiting room is the perfect spot for a quiet jumping contest, or spinning round and round – as long as it is quiet and does not disturb other patrons or patients.
3: Stash a toy in your purse
If I know we are going to be waiting, I have both my girls pack their small purses with quiet toys that can be played with on the floor and quickly cleaned away. This might be a handful of building blocks, a small doll or the ever growing collection of Shopkins that has overtaken my house. This works only when I can plan ahead and I anticipate a wait – for the times the wait comes as a surprise, I rely on the matchbox cars that live in a side pocket of my own purse. A red one for my eldest and an orange one for my youngest – simple, easy, and worth at least 10 minutes of distraction.
Pinterest is awash with clever ideas and tricks to make life easier. Years ago I ran across a Pin that changed my (waiting) life – home made coloring packs for traveling. The first ones I made involved crayons and paper stuffed into one of the small hard shell baby wipe containers. These days my purse is smaller and I no longer carry a diaper bag, so the coloring kits have grown smaller as well. I normally stuff a few crayons on the outside of a small flip notebook, or put some supplies in a soft pencil case. I was unable to find the original Pin that inspired our cases, but here are a few other ones that might pique your own interest: DIY Traveling Coloring Case, DIY Traveling Coloring Kit, DVD Case Coloring Case.
5: 20 Questions
This classic question and answer game can be modified for all ages by adjusting the rules as needed. When I play with my girls, I keep it to ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses, but the ‘person, place or thing’ suggestion is focused on answers I know they will be able to guess with a little work. Places are familiar to them, like Grandma’s house or school, while the things can be anything from our Car to their favorite doll. I also give them a few more details in the beginning than the traditional rules require.
These are my ‘go-to’ tricks, aside from the screen of my ever present and ever entertaining iPhone. Our E.N.T. adventure this morning went well, culminating in a full 3 rounds of I Spy and a few turns at 20 Questions. The toys were a bust, but they may be used tomorrow!
I would love to hear what tricks you use or games you play – leave a comment and share your wisdom!