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Waiting Room Survival With Kids

We all know the pain of being stuck in a waiting room. Ask any adult who has spent time waiting at the DMV, and they will tell you long waits can be a form of torture. Add sick kids to the mix, and the waiting room can feel almost unendurable at times! In this article, we will discuss why waiting is so hard for children along with tips and tricks for waiting room survival with kids.

Waiting room woes

As a mother of five, I’ve had my fair share of rough waiting room experiences. I had one particularly bad appointment when I took all five kids at the same time for flu shots. By the time we were actually led into the exam room, my kids were melting down, and I was on the verge of tears. This article will discuss why time in waiting rooms with kids is so challenging, and strategies we can utilize to make it better.

Start with empathy

To understand why our waiting room experiences with kids can be miserable, it helps to examine the root causes. Gaining extra empathy for what our children might be feeling can make a big difference in how we view our time waiting.

Why are waiting rooms so challenging for kids?

Several factors can contribute to a child’s discomfort while waiting in a doctor’s office:

  1. Boredom: Kids have short attention spans, and if they’re stuck in a place where they can’t run around, they can get bored quickly.
  2. Anxiety: Children may feel anxious about the painful or uncomfortable medical procedures they might have to undergo during their visit.
  3. Hunger and thirst: Kids can get hungry and thirsty, and depending on the time of the appointment, it can add to their discomfort.
  4. Exhaustion: Sick kids are often tired and worn out, and waiting in a doctor’s office can make them feel even more exhausted.
  5. Bathroom needs: Kids can get antsy when they need to use the bathroom.
  6. Excess energy: Healthy children may have lots of pent-up energy, making it difficult for them to sit still in a waiting room.

Six Strategies for Surviving the Waiting Room with Kids

  1. Prepare your child: Before the appointment, explain what your child can expect during their visit. You can use a play medical kit to demonstrate different medical tools and procedures.
  2. Help your child get some rest: If your child is feeling tired, let them sleep in, or try to get them to take a short nap before the appointment. Bring a blanket or a favorite stuffed animal to make them feel more comfortable.
  3. Bring snacks and water: Remember to bring snacks and water to keep your child from getting too hungry or thirsty. Snacks can also be a great distraction.
  4. Know where the bathrooms are: Have your child use the bathroom before the appointment, and ask where the restrooms are in case they need to use them during the visit.
  5. Find opportunities for movement: If your child is not feeling sick, try to get them moving before the appointment. You can have them play outside, do a silly wiggle dance, or park your car farther away for a short walk.
  6. Pack entertainment items: Bring some toys, books, or coloring supplies to keep your child entertained while waiting.

What to Bring to Your Child’s Doctor Appointment

Essential items

When preparing for your child’s doctor’s appointment, it is important to pack necessary items that can help you have a smooth and comfortable experience. Here are some important things to bring:

  1. Identification and Insurance Cards: These cards are essential, and you should ensure you have them with you. It is advisable to check if you have them before leaving home.
  2. Phone and a Charger: You need your phone to stay connected and communicate with your family or friends in case of emergencies. Bringing along a charger can help you avoid a low battery situation.
  3. Water Bottle and Snacks: Waiting for your turn can be boring, and bringing snacks and water can make the experience more comfortable. Choose snacks that are less messy or sticky to avoid any inconvenience.
  4. Wipes: Wipes are versatile tools for parents. They come in handy when you have a kid in diapers or when your child wants to touch everything in sight. You can also use them to clean up messes and spills.
  5. Hand Sanitizer: Although clinics have hand sanitizers, it’s still important to bring your own just in case. Children touch everything!

Additional items to consider:

  • Diapers or disposable training pants
  • Spare set of underwear
  • Comfort object such as a blanket or stuffed animal
  • Small toy or other forms of entertainment to keep your child occupied.

Nurse Approved Items To Help You Survive The Waiting Room

Books are always a great place to start. They are easy to pack in a bag, and there are so many excellent options out there. 

The Best Activity Books To Bring to Your Kids Next Doctor’s Appointment

Melissa and Doug Water Wow Books

Montessori Quiet Book

I Spy Books

Highlights for Children My First Puzzle Fun 2023 4-Book Set

Highlights for Children Amazing Mazes Maze Books

Benresive Reusable Sticker Book for Kids

Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring

16 Bulk Coloring Books for Kids

The best toys for keeping children entertained at the pediatrician’s office

HABA Town Maze Magnetic Puzzle Game

Zeoddler Wooden Animals Lacing Card for Kids

Boxgear 6pc Multicolored Fidget Toys for Kids

Wellchild Magnetic Drawing Board

Acekid 10pcs Soft Plush Animal Finger Puppets 

KOKODI LCD Writing Tablet

More helpful tips to make the waiting room less painful with kids

  • When you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to bring backup or ask for help from a family member or friend.
  • Morning appointments or first appointments after lunch tend to have shorter wait times.
  • If possible, try to arrange for someone else to watch your other children so you can focus on the appointment.
  • If paperwork can be done online or beforehand, take advantage of that option to save time in the waiting room.
  • Arrive a little early to avoid feeling rushed or frazzled.
  • Please, if your child is in pain or has a fever, treat it before the appointment to make them more comfortable. Don’t worry about “proving” their symptoms to the doctor.
  • Bring a book or other form of entertainment for yourself to help pass the time.

Final Thoughts

Waiting rooms with kids can feel like the wild west sometimes. We can be better prepared when we recognize why waiting is challenging for our children. With a little extra effort, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding meltdowns, or at least mitigating them quickly. Best of luck at your next appointment!

Looking for more tips to make life with kids a little easier? Check out these helpful articles: Kids and long car rides, kids carsickness survival, and sick kids survival kits.

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