It’s bad enough that you have a sick child, but having to wait 20 minutes in a small, overheated exam room or a busy, germ-filled waiting room while you wait for your pediatrician makes a bad situation even worse. Here are some tips for making the best of your next trip to the doctor with your kids, including ways to keep them distracted and secrets for keeping your own sanity.
Do your best to come prepared
We know how hard it already is to have a sick child, but coming empty handed to the pediatrician’s office will only make things worse. Consider packing a special bag, even if it’s just a plastic gallon-sized storage bag that stays in the trunk of your car that you can take out and throw in your purse if you have to make a last minute trip to the doctor.
Include some snacks (for yourself too, Mom!), juice boxes, a deck of cards for older kids or some little cars for younger ones. Also, don’t forget things such as an extra diaper, your phone charger and your child’s comfort items to ease the visit.
Get creative while waiting in the exam room
It has happened to all of us — that long wait in a tiny exam room with your antsy kid. Even though that wait may only be five short minutes, it can seem like eternity sometimes! To fight off exam room boredom, which is a fast track to exam room naughtiness, use your surroundings to have some fun.
Bring crayons and let them draw on the exam table paper or play some tic-tac-toe while you wait. Snag those big tongue depressors and use a pen to draw faces on each end for an impromptu puppet show. Use paper drinking cups to set up a track on the floor that they have to drive the doctor’s stool through without knocking anything over. See what you can find and make it work!
Find ways to make the best of it
There are other quick and easy things you can do to make the doctor’s office wait a little less painful as well. Before you leave for your appointment, give the office a ring to see if they are running on time for the day — if they’re significantly behind, especially at the end of the day, they’ll often tell you to come 15 minutes later than your scheduled time to avoid having to wait in the office. Also, morning appointments are far less likely to be late, so if you can wait for that 8 a.m. appointment instead of the 5:30 p.m. slot, do it.
Those exam rooms are always so tiny and to keep little bodies warm, they typically have the heat cranked up as far as it can go, which causes major claustrophobia. If your kid doesn’t have a hacking cough or a contagious flu, open the door of the exam room to get some air flowing. Also, dress yourself and your kids in layers before heading out the door so that you can quickly shed some clothes while you wait for the pediatrician to arrive.
Lastly, if at all possible, take only one child to the doctor at a time. Arrange for a babysitter for your other kiddos so that you can focus on the child with the appointment. You’re far more likely to hear what the doctor has to say and help your sick little one without having to manage other kids at the same time.
Here’s to hoping that you’ll have healthy kids this winter and no need to pull out these tips at all!