As I was preparing for this post, I asked the girls what things they like to do while they’re waiting with us, whether it’s at a doctor’s office, an appointment, or at an event. The first answer they both gave surprised me: “Family time.”
Whether we realize it or not, our children are so hungry for our attention and quality time.
A few weeks ago we arrived at an event early and had a good thirty minutes to wait in our seats before it started. We had come as a family and had come to share the experience together. Our girls were looking around and taking in the activity around us with frequent questions of how much longer until it started. Sound familiar?
It is so tempting to hand our children a device or even a “busy bag” activity to keep them occupied in moments of waiting, but something dawned on me that afternoon: our children are looking for us to lead them and to pour our love into them.
A mindset shift occurred for me. We were given thirty minutes of time when we were captive –– no reason to check social media or emails. No floors to sweep. No laundry to fold. No meetings. We were given a chunk of unhurried time to connect with our girls, and out of that, their new favorite game was created.
I hadn’t come prepared with anything, but I was able to find a pen and a scrap piece of paper in my purse. On it I drew a box for our youngest and explained that she could draw anything in the box, and then we would guess what it was. I’m pretty sure she drew a princess. Our oldest daughter went next, and then Andrew and I both joined in.
It got us interacting, laughing, and making a memory in the most unconventional spot to be having “family time.” Andrew and I loved it, and they did, too.
A few days later we were waiting at the hair salon, and the girls asked if we could play the “picture game” again. The receptionist kindly handed me a couple of pieces of paper, and within a few minutes we were laughing and talking together about what silly pictures we were going to draw.
This game has resurfaced multiple times and has been the most beautiful reminder that it’s the little things that mean the most to our children. Learning to put down distractions. Looking them in the eye. Laughing together.
Here are a few ideas to use as opportunities to connect with your children during those down times while you’re waiting:
Even if you don’t have a pen or paper handy, it is likely that you can borrow one from wherever you’re waiting. Draw pictures and have the other person guess what you drew. You can mix this up based on the age of your child, too. Add a timer if you need to or give categories to put a spin on the fun.
“I spy with my little eye….somethiiiiing green!” This no-prep classic is a favorite for our preschooler and is perfect if you have just a few minutes to pass.
A Way with Words:
For younger children, you can plan ahead and tuck a few of their favorite books in your bag. Reading to your child can be special time to bond and connect. For older kids, use this time to talk and ask questions. We love this list of questions. To help your child not feel like they are being drilled, you can take turns asking the questions. Pass your phone over and let them choose a question to ask you, too!
Use Your Imagination:
If you (or your child) loves to use their imagination, here’s a creative option for you. Pick a picture on the wall, if there is one, and pretend to jump into the picture. Talk about the new place you find yourself in and the adventures that you will take together.
Next time you find yourself with your child waiting for the doctor, for the bus, or for an event to start, take some time to connect. I think it will leave both of you with a smile.
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