Taking kids to the doctor isn’t typically fun. But, it can be.
If you’re stuck in the doctor’s office or waiting room, you can turn to your phone or a tablet to entertain your kids. However, it’s so much better for you all if you engage them. It’ll reduce their screen time, help you connect, and teach your kids that there’s always something to do while they wait.
Since one of my kids has Angelman Syndrome, we spend a lot of time in various doctor’s offices. Between the pediatrician, neurologist, and some other ists, we’re always trying to find new ways to interact with our kids and make the waiting easier. Typically at least two other kids accompany us. So these are tried and true activities to entertain your kids in the doctor’s office.
1. Magazine Spot-It
Nearly every doctor’s office I’ve ever been in has magazines. If the one you’re in has a stack, you have everything you need for this game.
Each player gets a magazine. Then, you take turns calling out what you’re trying to spot. Here’s how a round would work:
Player 1: Who can find a dog first?
The other players all flip through pages in their magazines, looking for a dog. Whoever finds one first whispers, “Spot It!”
Now the person who found it gets to pick something.
If no one can find that object, it’s someone else’s turn to pick.
Continue taking turns until the doctor arrives, or until it’s time to switch activities.
Tip: Don’t make the mistake of sticking with the same activity too long. You want to be the one to end it, before the kids get bored. Otherwise they can go from calm to crazy in .002 seconds!
2. I Spy
Almost everyone has heard of this classic game. It’s fun to play at home, in the car, and in doctor’s offices.
One person starts by saying, “I spy with my little eye, something _____.” They fill in the blank with a color.
The other players take turns looking around the room and naming items of that color. The person who spies the right thing first gets to go next.
Or you can do what we do and just take turns being the person spying. This works best with younger kids.
Teaching Moment:Have your kids practice looking up, down, and all around without moving their bodies. Practice together as they search for the item. That way you don’t have anyone trying to run all over the room trying to find it.
3. Quiet Contest
This used to be my mom’s favorite game to play in the car. I never quite understood why until I became a mom.
The goal of this game is simply to be quiet. It’s really hard for some kids and really easy for others.
Here’s how it works.
You say, “Let’s see who can be quietest the longest. If you go the longest without making a sound, you’re the amazing winner!”
Really play up the winner part. It’s good to win!
Now, you sit back and enjoy the silence. You may have to play judge, reminding the kids that humming and smacking their lips technically DO count as sounds.
Once you’re down to one quiet player left, congratulate them. Make a big deal of it.
Now ask the other kids if they can beat this person next time. Then try again…
4. Count the ___
How many tiles are on the ceiling in the room you’re in? How many chairs are in the waiting room?
If your kids can count, they can play this game.
It’s a great way to quietly keep the mind engaged while you wait. I even will sometimes just start counting random things when I’m waiting on my own. It really does help the time to go by more quickly.
So what can you have kids count? Anything! Try:
- Floor tiles
- Pictures on the wall
- Keys on your ring
- The number of pages in a magazine
- How many pictures of food are in one magazine
The possibilities are truly endless.
Teaching Moment: Teaching your kids how to wait without being attached to a screen is important! This activity is one they can do throughout life, and no one around them will even know they’re doing it if they count in their head. For older kids, ask them to make a guess first and then count to see if they were right.
5. The Best Option
This one also requires a magazine. Ones like Parents or Better Homes and Garden work really well.
Pick a magazine out and hold it on your lap. Have your kids sit nearby so they can see. You may have to hold the magazine up to ensure they all get a chance to look when it’s their turn.
Find a page in the magazine that has several items on it. Two-page spreads showing a ton of different products are our favorite. Or pages with different rooms in the house.
Ask your kids to point to the best on that page. Then ask them why they picked that one.
Now let the next person share their opinion. Keep taking turns pointing out the best until everyone has had a turn.
Then find another page full of images and try again.
I like to do this one, as it really gives me insight into how my kids are thinking. Having to explain why they picked something is a great skill.
Make Wait Time Fun
The next time you’re waiting at the doctor’s office (or anywhere for that matter), try engaging your kids with one of these activities. If they’re used to merely using a screen while waiting, it may take some time for them to get used to the idea of doing something new. But, kids are often pretty eager for some extra attention.
Do you have any activities you do at doctor’s offices? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.