5 ways to keep children busy while waiting

5 ways to keep children busy while waiting


August 3, 2016

For those times when waiting is unavoidable, use these tips to engage your kids and ease frustration.

Several years ago,
we had an appointment at the ENT and had to wait longer than anticipated because of an unavoidable surgery delay. Working in healthcare, you would think I would know that waits sometimes are unavoidable.

Unfortunately, I came to the appointment with my two children, who at the time were just 15 months and 4 years old, with only the bare essentials in my diaper bag. Thankfully, the great nursing staff came to my aid, giving my kids juice, water and crackers, as well as some books to occupy them.

And in an effort to not lose my mind, I thought of these five ways to stay busy while waiting at the doctor, the dentist or really any other place you have to wait with kids in tow.

1. Play.

Many children’s doctor and dentist waiting rooms will have some form of entertainment. Take advantage of the fun toys and activity tables. Also, kneel down and play with your kids. I find that when I engage my children (versus having my nose in a magazine), they are happier and their attention spans lengthen.

2. Read.

Tuck a few books in your bag so that you can read stories while you wait. Stories usually calm even my feisty toddler. That day, I wished I had an anthology of stories with me.

3. Color.

It is amazing how a simple coloring book and a few crayons can pass the time. I sometimes will print a coloring sheet from the web and stick it in my purse before going somewhere with my kids. A new coloring sheet can be just the thing to bring some happiness to what could otherwise be a frustrating situation.

4. Bounce a ball.

My kids love balls. They are great sources of entertainment, especially in small spaces like waiting rooms.

5. Tap and swipe.

When all else fails, the taps and swipes of a game on a smartphone or tablet can be a perfect distraction.


Jessica Turner is part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s social media team. She loves spending time with her family, memory keeping and blogging on her popular lifestyle blog, The Mom Creative.


What tips would you add to this list? Leave them in the comments below.