The Waiting Game

Wait, wait, wait. I guess there’s a reason they call it a waiting room. It seems I’ve spent way too much time waiting in doctor’s offices lately, and now that it’s flu season, an increased amount of children will be going to the doctor’s for an increased amount of waiting! But try to look at the bright side: here you have some uninterrupted quality time with your child.

Before your child ever has a chance to get sick, head over to the Children’s Museum in Easton‘s doctor’s office to have a trial run of a doctor appointment to ease any fears. Take turns being the doctor and patient, let your child use the stethoscopes, scales, and splints, and talk about what the doctor is checking for during each part of the appointment.

When the day comes that you find yourself in the real doctor’s office, here are a few simple games to keep your child/children entertained and learning. Most activities involve no preparation, since, if you’re like me, who has time to think about anything else when you’ve got a sick kid?

Nurses are famous for handing out stickers: Use them wisely before sticking them on! My preschooler loves to take turns hiding the stickers around the office and finding them. Just make sure all the stickers are hidden in visible spots so your child doesn’t need to touch any of the medical equipment. You can also line up your stickers (or even use cards from your wallet if you haven’t received any stickers yet) on the examining table and take turns hiding a penny under one sticker and guessing which sticker it is under. “You’re getting warmer/colder” makes it more fun.

Been sitting too long? See how many times your child can hop on one foot or clap her hands. Try a game of Simon Says and take turns being Simon. Older kids enjoy taking a wadded up piece of paper or tissue and playing finger hockey down the length of the examining table. Make a big deal of setting up the boundaries and making the rules to help your child stay engaged.

Use your surroundings: See if you can find all the letters of the alphabet or of your child’s name on the posters hanging in the office. Study a magazine picture, then look away and take turns quizzing each other on the details of the picture. Compare things: How are those two chairs different/the same? How is this computer like our one at home? Are you as tall as that poster?

You probably unknowingly carry around a whole slew of entertaining devices in your bag.

  • Use a pen as a microphone and begin telling a story. Pass the microphone around and each person can add a part.
  • Experiment to see how many things in your bag can roll. Make a ramp out of a book and have a contest to see which can roll the fastest/farthest/straightest.
  • Have your child close his eyes and place an object from your purse in his hands. Can he guess what it is?
  • Lay out many items from your purse. Have your child close her eyes while you remove one item. Can she guess what you removed?
  • Closely examine the details on coins. Kids will be amazed with what they will notice. Try to get the coins to spin or roll, or play heads or tails with them.
  • Use items from your purse as stencils to draw around. Then have your child try to match the items with the outlines she drew.
  • Place a coin or key under a sheet of paper and use a pen or pencil to rub over it and see the impression magically appear.

If you do like to plan ahead, visit the Children’s Museum gift shop for a small, inexpensive toy or idea book to keep stashed in your bag. I personally keep a tiny wind up train in my bag that only comes out during periods of waiting (appointments, restaurants, etc.) and it provides great entertainment. Or feel free to print out this list and keep it in your bag for those unexpected periods of waiting.

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