Surviving the Waiting Game, by Jennifer - MetroFamily Magazine
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Surviving the Waiting Game, by Jennifer

by Jennifer Geary

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Now that school has started, it’s time for all of the extra activities to get underway, too. Last year we were out a lot. Two mornings a week my son went to speech, and two afternoons a week, he had PE. And those mornings and afternoons were on the same day, so it got a little crazy.  He also had choir every Sunday night and a two hour geography class every other week, and then, of course, were all the other activities that come up—skating, holiday parties, field trips, and all the ordinary stuff of life.  It seemed like every time we turned around, we were supposed to be somewhere else! This year I’ve gotten smart and our only regular weekday commitment is PE. I think we’re going to enjoy the freedom!

While it was difficult carting my son everywhere, the bigger problem was that everywhere we went, my daughter came, too. I’m not sure how much time you’ve spent with a two year old lately, but most of them aren’t particularly good at waiting quietly and patiently for more than three minutes or so—unless they’re asleep. Two days a week, Alice had to spend two and a half hours waiting on Jack, and that’s just counting his class time; driving time is a whole different issue! The only thing that saved my sanity was an activity box!

What is an activity box? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a box of activities. Helpful, yes?

When I found out we were going to have so much time to wait (for these classes we were not able to drop my son off and go somewhere else), I grabbed a Rubbermaid container and started packing.  I put in puzzles, books, small games, little packs of playdoh…anything and everything I could think of to keep her occupied quietly for a while. After a week or two of playing with the items in the box, I switched them out for something different. This has been a lifesaver!

Now that my daughter is three, we don’t use the box every time we go to a class. Since she’s more social now she will sometimes play with other younger siblings who are also playing the waiting game, and sometimes she likes to explore the building or watch the guys working on the flower beds.  I’ve also learned not to put anything too valuable (monetarily or sentimentally) in the box as there are sometimes children wandering around who want to share your stuff, even if they’ve never seen you before!  Overall, though, this has been great and I have learned to throw in extra crayons for other kids and my daughter has gotten some practice on her sharing skills.

How do you help your younger kids pass the time while they have to wait?  I’d love to hear some new ideas!

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