27 Things to do in a Waiting Room While Your Child is in a Therapy Session
We spend an hour a week together in the waiting room while our kids work with their speech therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapist on things like shoe tying, social skills and feeding.
I don’t know all of your names but I know most of your kids’ names because we see each other week after week and we almost always talk about our kids. We discuss all their therapies. We talk about their schools. We swap ideas and share stories.
Our conversations often last a few minutes before we inevitably pull out our phones and kill time by checking e-mail and Facebook.
Beyond the Screen
Recently I was the lone parent in the waiting room. Even the receptionist had gone home. My phone became uninteresting and I put it away. Feeling free from the shackles of technology, I thought about different ways I could productively pass time in a waiting room.
With a little help from Google, I came up with a list of things to do. Some are productive, others are meant to be nurturing and the rest are just plain silly.
So, without further ado, here are 27 things to do in a waiting room while you wait for your child to finish a therapy session:
1. Write in a journal or start a blog
Yes, I am actually writing this in a notebook while sitting in the waiting room.
2. Make Lists
Always keep a notebook with you and use it to make a to-do list, shopping list or as a place to jot down random thoughts and ideas.
3. Mix Things Up
Just for fun, think of things you probably should not do in a waiting room like starting the wave, trying to engage other parents in a game of Simon Says or yelling “free drinks in the sensory room.”
4. Conversation Starters
Write a list of conversation starters and then use them during a family dinner. Ask questions like: “if you were president, what would you do?” or “what food do I most remind you of?”
5. Draw It
Draw a picture and give it to your child after her session. It doesn’t matter how bad you think your art skills are; your child will love it, maybe even more than you love her artwork.
6. Informal Support Group
Talk to other parents. It can be helpful and therapeutic to talk to others who understand the ups and downs of raising a child with special needs.
7. Sleep Anyone?
Take a nap. Aren’t we all just a little sleep deprived?
8. Read Something Not On A Screen
Read something that is not on a screen. Remember what it felt like to actually hold a book or newspaper?
9. Use Your Ears
Not a reader? Listen to a book or podcast.
10. Therapy Goals
Revisit therapy goals. When was the last time you and your child’s therapist looked at goals together? What are your goals and how do they compare to the therapist’s?
Exercise discreetly (or see who wants to join you for squats and lunges). How? Try these exercises designed to be done in your car.
Ask if you can observe a session. This may give you some fresh ideas.
13. Organize Pictures
Organize pictures and videos on your smartphone. If you’re one of those people who just can’t put down the phone, be productive and delete old photos or videos, especially the unidentifiable ones taken by your child.
Take some time to relax and meditate, even if you are just focusing on your breath.
15. Plan Your Kids Activities
Write out clues for a scavenger hunt that your kids can do at home. Use them next time you’re looking for something different to do.
16. Hunt For Recipes
Bring cookbooks and find new recipes. If a sibling is with you, ask her to help. Maybe then she won’t complain about dinner.
17. Plan Menus
Plan menus for the week, including school lunches. If your fresh out of ideas, ask another parent (unless you’re child only eats pasta).
18. Homework Help
If you’re waiting with siblings, have them bring homework and offer to help.
19. Remember I Spy?
Play I Spy with your other child or children.
20. Give the Kids an Activity Bag
If siblings are usual tag-a-longs, make a waiting-room bag and fill it with activities that can only be done in the waiting room. Include things like crayons, stickers, coloring books and a Ziploc bag filled with orphan Legos.
21. Give Yourself an Activity Bag
Make yourself a waiting room bag. Include items such as magazines, cards or stationery, knitting projects or other crafts.
22. Write A Letter
Write a nice note to your spouse, your child, your child’s teacher or a good friend.
Send an e-mail (or letter) to an elected official advocating for kids with special needs. For autism-specific information, click on the advocate tab on the Autism Speaks website or find a grassroots organization in your area and see what the hot-button issues are.
24. Think About Your Child
Make a list of your child’s strengths and refer to it when he’s having a particularly bad day.
25. Focus on Yourself
Write a letter to yourself for when you are having a particularly bad day.
26. Think About Your Parenting Skills
For fun, practice your parenting skills by observing other kids when they misbehave. Pretend you’re the mom or dad and ask yourself “how would I parent in this moment?” It’s probably best to keep those brilliant ideas to yourself.
27. Think of Ideas
Come up with ideas to add to this list and post them in the comment section.