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Survive the Waiting Room with Kids

boredHave you ever found yourself stranded in a physician’s waiting room with a bored child? I sure have. In fact, I recently spent more than an hour waiting to see a surgeon for a post-op follow up appointment. Now, these docs typically don’t have waiting rooms that scream fun for kids–and they certainly don’t seem to understand what it’s like to entertain a child for such a long period.

So, for you fellow parents, here are some tips to prevent a meltdown the next time you head to an appointment with a kiddo in tow.

1. Snag the prime appointment slot. Try planning appointments first thing in the morning, or right after lunch. That way you won’t be stuck in a log jam of backups. (Note, many people are wise to this tactic. So it’s not as easy snagging these prime appointments…but it’s still worth a try.)

2. Expect the unexpected. A routine in-and-out appointment can easily turn into an hour in the waiting room. When traveling with small children, it’s a good idea to take the stroller. Even with kid-friendly offices, there are all kinds of new things to see, touch and even taste. (ewe!) Chasing a toddler for 10 minutes is no big deal, but you’re going to wear yourself out if your stuck for anything longer than that. Plus, if you have the stroller, you can easily head out into the hallway for a short walk until they’re ready for you.

3. Always take provisions. I’m not a big advocate of pacifying with food. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do-especially if the wait runs into snack or meal time. Make sure to have a drink and an easy snack that won’t make too much of a mess. If your little one still has the need, bring your diaper pod too (you know, the changing pad, diaper and mini wipes container).

4. Waiting Room Survival Kit. Don’t be stranded in a waiting room without your Waiting Room Survival Kit. To create a kit, take a simple canvas shopping bag and stock it with napkins, a pad of paper, coloring book, crayons, markers, a few small toys, brown paper lunch bags, and an easy pre-packaged craft (check out http://www.klutz.com/ or make your own). Keep your Waiting Room Survival Kit in the trunk of your car at all times  so you’ll always have it on hand…and remember to update the kit often so the kids don’t get bored with the same activities.

Kids can decorate the brown paper lunch bags to make puppets and if time drags on, host an impromptu puppet show. Or, if you’re not exactly in the mood to pull out the whole shebang, use markers to dot eyes, a nose and mouth on your kiddo’s finger tips and have him host a mini finger puppet show…A great way to let his imagination run wild.

Napkins have multiple uses. In addition to the obvious use of cleaning up, napkins can also serve as an entertainment piece. Wad up a couple and see who can blow them across the table the fastest. Or, poke a few holes in one and use it as a mask. For toddlers, napkins work great for the always pleasing game of peek-a-boo.

Crayons and markers can also be used to draw on the examining table paper as well!

5. New twist on an old favorite. Forgot your Waiting Room Survival Kit? No worries. Grab a magazine and play “I Spy”. Find a page with lots of graphics and let your little one find the item you pick. Then let him chose an item for you to find.

Or play the waiting room version of hide and seek. Hide a small item somewhere in the room and use “you’re hot” or “you’re cold” hints till your little one finds it. Take turns hiding and finding.

Got some great tips to add to the list? We’d love to hear them.

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