Even as our lives become increasingly busier, there will always be times when we simply have to wait.
We wait in line at the store; we sit in the waiting room for medical appointments; we ride for long periods in the car, bus or plane. When you are waiting with a small child or children, a very short time can seem like hours.
Rather than dreading the wait, take advantage of this little gift of time in your day.
• Start by being prepared. If there is a chance you will be spending any length of time waiting, have a small snack ready to serve if needed. As well, keep an age-appropriate activity on hand, such as a little board book, some crayons and a pad of paper or a container of play dough. Keep your child’s interest by changing these toys each time you go out.
• Explore your surroundings. Carry your baby around a waiting room and look at the pictures on the walls. Talk with him about the colours, shapes and objects you see. Play guessing games with your toddler or preschooler. “Can you find something in the room that is green?” “Can you find the number 2 on that sign?”
• Tell a story, sing a song or recite a rhyme. Quietly bounce baby on your knee for “Pat-a-Cake” or another favourite rhyme. Sing a familiar song to an older child, and ‘forget’ some of the words so she will chime in. Tell a story about when your child was younger, or a story from your own childhood.
• Be a captive audience for your child. When your baby babbles happily, repeat the same sounds back to him. He will love having a conversation with you. Ask your preschooler to tell you a story. Prompt him with questions to keep the story going.
• Play a memory game by taking a few items from your purse or pocket, such as a coin, a key, a pen, etc. Hold them in your hand and let your child look then hide her eyes while you take one away. See if she can guess what is missing.
• Play a game of “I Wish”. Acknowledge that this is not where your child wants to be right now. “I wish we were on a merry-go-round.” “I wish the floor was made of marshmallows.” “I wish we had wings and could fly to the front of the line.” Instead of whining to let you know he would rather be doing something else, let him laugh about it.
The next time you and your child are faced with a wait, whether it is only a couple of minutes in line or hours in the car, take advantage of this special opportunity to learn and play together and to get to know each other better.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 21, 2013