How often do you find yourself in a doctors office waiting room or a crowded restraint waiting for your food to arrive when you start seeing the warning signs of restless kids? At the moment, that is where I send this post from. I’m waiting in a waiting room for the person I’m with to complete an ultrasound – and I’m surrounded by little kids being watched by a hospital attendant who looks like she’s moments away from pulling her hair out. I’ve been asked to move my coffee several times as they migrate from one area of the waiting room to another. As a single mom, this has been me many times and I can easily recognize now the signs of stress in my children and the adults around us when this type of behavior occurs. It starts with the inability to sit still, their voices get louder/whinier, the banging of silverware on the table ensues ….
To avoid these type of situations which can be disturbing to the people around you and embarrassing for you in general – try making what I like to call a “waiting game” kit. Items for this kit would be small so they can fit in your purse or diaper bag, but are also things you know can keep your children engaged for at least 30 minutes. Bring three different options and have one be sensory motor engaging. Some examples of things I often carry around with me are:
Crayons and small coloring books. You can even fold up coloring book pages or just blank paper. This is a classic activity that is engaging. I’ve gotten in the habit of just packing blank paper because that way if they don’t want to color, we can make a treasure map instead or whatever else our imagination conjures up. Another item that would be good is a small “role-play” toy like small dolls or actions figures. This allows kids to use their imagination and work out some impatience in free-play. Finally, something I’ve never gone wrong with is a deck of cards (unto, old maid, go fish, etc.). These are usually small enough to carry in a purse and engage you with your kids in order to pass the time.