We have all been there…what was supposed to be a 10-minute oil change or wait at the doctor’s office suddenly becomes more like an hour (or two!). Worst of all, you weren’t prepared for the wait and didn’t bring any coloring books or toys along with you! Don’t panic…you have this list FULL of activities for when kids have to wait!
(With that being said, you *might* want to go ahead and pin this post or bookmark it to your phone…just in case.) :)
This list is divided into two categories: activities for when others are around and activities for when it is just you and your kids. Silly activities are great for when it is just you and your kids, but might not be appreciated when there are other patrons waiting in the same room.
Just You and Your Kids
These activities are perfect for waiting in exam rooms or when you have the place to yourselves…where others won’t be disrupted.
- Play Simon Says: This timeless game is the perfect way to keep kids active (i.e. burn a little energy) and occupy their attention all in one!
- Sing a silly song or recite a finger play (the more actions the better): Hokey Pokey, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Deep and Wide, Father Abraham, London Bridges, Old McDonald Had a Farm, This Little Piggie…just to name a few.
- Create a piggyback story: Start telling a story and then pass it along to your child. Have him/her piggyback off of the start to your story and continue telling it with his/her own flair. Continue piggybacking off of each other until your wait is over or the story has become too outrageous to continue! :)
- Have a Thumb War: Link knuckles with your child and go to war to see which thumb is the strongest!
- Do jumping jacks. Did I mention that it might be necessary (for everyone’s sanity) that your kiddos to get some energy out while waiting?
With Other People Around
- I Spy: A classic game that can be easily reinvented! “I Spy with my little eye, something ______” (insert color, shape, beginning letter, etc).
- Letter Hunt: Call out a letter and ask your children to identify objects around the room that begin with that letter.
- Play “How Many?”: Call out a shape, color, etc. and ask your child how many objects he/she can find. (idea from This Reading Mama)
- Read the Room: Have your child walk around the room and identify words (or shapes, colors, letters and numbers for non-readers).
- Round Robin Game: Start with a topic (colors, types of fruit, animals, etc) and go back and forth with your child(ren) naming a color until no one can think of any more (idea from Making Time for Mommy). Try it with other topics too (four-legged animals, types of fruit, etc.).
- See how high you can count: Quietly count aloud with your child and see how high you can go (idea from Nothing If Not Intentional). Another idea is to guess how many seconds (counts) until the doctor comes in, your food arrives, your car is ready, etc. Then count together and, whoever comes closest to the actual number of counts it takes, wins (idea from The Chaos and the Clutter)
- Imaginary Traveler: Take turns asking your kids to imagine where they might go and what they object want to take along on their trip, beginning with the letter “a” and continuing consecutively through the alphabet. For example, “I’m going to Australia and I’m taking my Angry Birds.” “I’m going to Brad’s and I’m taking my Batman shirt.” Encourage participants to be as silly as possible.” (see this and other great “thinking games” at What Do We Do All Day?)
- Guess Which Hand?: Put an item in your hand and put your hands behind your back. Have your child guess which hand the item is in. (idea from Your Modern Family)
- Play “I’m Thinking of a Number”: Think of a number and keep it in your mind. Begin giving your child clues. This classic game is great for kids who are familiar with the concepts greater than and less than.
- Ask “Would you Rather?” Questions: Would you rather be in a pool or marshmallows or in a pool of M&M’s? Would you rather have bright blue hair or bright blue feet? Find more questions like this (along with printable cards) from the Measured Mom.
Also, I loved this reminder from Study at Home Mama:
I love playing the games like I Spy, but I also find that these boredom times are great to encourage children to either (1) talk, or (2) find their own entertainment. I think when kids are expected to entertain themselves, and they aren’t always given the answers, they learn to rise to the occasion. I think it takes practice — don’t always give entertainment during car rides, leave some free play time at home every day, etc. Engage your children in conversation and teach them how to start conversations — with you, or other kids. When you do this, your child is more apt to strike up a conversation (asking a question or sharing a story) than start whining about how they are bored.
Finally, as a last resort (i.e. deaf-con meltdown), you can always give them your phone. I am personally trying to be more engaged with my kids and less reliant on technology because I don’t want to miss out on interactions with them! But there are times when everyone has had enough (including me…just keepin’ it real). In these dire situations, I might break out the phone and let them play an educational app for toddlers, preschoolers, or beginning readers.
What are some of YOUR best tips for when kids have to wait?