Waiting Games for KidsRunning errands with antsy children can be no fun, especially when they’re in a special kind of mood. But, as we all know, sometimes you just have to get it done. The element of Distraction can be a handy tool when you’re eager to get in and out with minimal tantrum-esque behavior. Whether you’re in an interminable line at the post office or hoping to get in a quick grocery run, try these fun games to entertain your kids when “Uneventful” is the name of the game.

Going Postal?

The next time you’re in line at the post office and you’re tempted to distract your child by offering valuable postage stamps as stickers, try out these games instead.

• Piggy Bank: Make a show of hiding a penny in one of your child’s pockets, pretending to put it in all of them. Now ask him to search his pockets to find it.

• Fill It Out: If your child can write her name, grab a pre-printed form and offer a pencil. Have her fill out as much as she can, then help her with the rest. It will distract her and help her memorize information such as her address and phone number.

• Letter Me This: “Write” a letter on your child’s back with your finger. Can he guess which one you wrote? Or spell a short word and see if he can guess it correctly.

• Penny Shuffle: Put a penny on the floor. Spin your child around a few times with her eyes closed and see if she can place one foot on the penny without opening her eyes. Can she land on the penny five times before it’s your turn?

• Helicopter: Hold a business card high in the air and simply drop it. Challenge your child to catch it before it reaches the ground.

• Box Project: If your post office has personal mailboxes near the waiting line, and your child is old enough to recognize numbers, read a number from a box and see if he can find it.


Just What the Doctor Ordered

Waiting for your child’s name to be called in the waiting room at the pediatrician or dentist’s office can seem like… it takes… forever. Then you get in the exam room, to wait… some more… Here are some distractions to help ease the pain.

• Card Shark: Search magazines for an assortment of subscription postcards. Deal them out like playing cards and play Go Fish. “Do you have one with yellow? What about a capital T?”

• Sock Toss: Your child will need his shoes off for the weigh-in so get a step ahead! Ask him to remove his sock and roll it into a ball. See if he can then toss it onto a magazine placed several feet away on the floor. Can he get both of his socks on the magazine? He’ll want to play this one forever.

• Art Smarts: Pack a ziplock and crayons and pencils and when you’re in the exam room, let your little Picasso draw on the table’s paper cover. Older kids can play tic-tac-toe or hangman.

• Hide and Seek: Place three paper cups (always by the sink) upside down; hide a coin under one. Switch them around to see if your child can guess where the coin is.

• Floss Boss: Ask the dental hygienist for that free dental floss before your exam. Let your child create string pictures by arranging the floss into various shapes.

• Fluff Stuff: Ask the nurse for a cotton ball and tongue depressor while you wait for the doc. Let your child try to carry the cotton across the room on the depressor without it falling to the floor. How many trips can she make before she has to say “ahh?”


Imagine this: You're walking down the aisles of your local grocery store—kids in tow. Are you thinking "disaster?" Well now you don't have to. —>


Shop ‘til you Drop?

Confined to the shopping cart—even if it’s a car cart!—kids can quickly become impatient. Luckily, distractions abound in well-stocked stores.

• A-B-C: Pick a letter—any letter—and take turns naming something you might find in the store that starts with it. Begin with five points each, and subtract a point each time a player is stumped. Get creative; B is for “Banana,” but it could also be for a “Box” of cereal.

• Basket Case: Challenge your little one to find another shopper who has two items that match two in your cart.

• Tally Ho!: In the checkout line, ask your child to guess how many items you’ve purchased. An older child can guess the total amount of the bill. Check the receipt to see how close he was.

• Word Power: Have your child try to find all the letters in her name on a package in your cart. Or pick a simple sentence and have her search the box for each letter.

• Baker’s Dozen: Choose a unit of measure—a dozen or a gallon, say—and find items sold in that quantity or volume. A dozen eggs is easy to find, but toilet paper, prepackaged muffins, and 12-packs of soda also come in dozens.

• 1-2-3 See!: Give kids a list of three items to find with their eyes. For instance: spot something bigger than their fist, something liquid, and something red. They can’t answer aloud until they’ve found all three. Winner gets to name the next three treasures.

Kris Bordessa is the author of several history books for kids, as well as the bestselling Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity.


Want more parenting pointers?

Waiting can be B-O-R-I-N-G! Check out more ways to keep kids occupied!