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Hey, Wait a Sec!

Hey, Wait a Sec! - Grown Ups Magazine - Six games to keep your kids busy while you’re waiting.
Six games to keep your kids busy while you’re waiting.

Waiting Games

If you’ve ever brought your kids with you to a doctor’s appointment, you know how stressful the waiting room can be. Keeping your child wrangled while you contemplate just how behind schedule the doctor is running can make any parent cringe. Fortunately, you can make waiting fun! These activities will keep your kids occupied so that waiting around isn’t such a bad thing. (As an added bonus, these games avoid the germy waiting-room toys, too.)

I Spy

Anytime you’re stuck waiting, play “I Spy” and see who can find the mystery object first. You can make this game more challenging for older kids by incorporating numbers and reading skills. Instead of saying, “I spy something yellow,” you can say, “I spy a multiple of three.” Your kids will enjoy finding the answer while using their brains.

Magic writing

Magic writing is another waiting room game you can play with kids of any age. If you have younger children, you can use this game to practice numbers or letters. Simply use your finger to write something on your child’s back or hand and ask them to guess what letter or number you wrote. For older kids, you can write entire words or math problems.

I went to the store and bought a…

To play this classic memory game, have the first person start by saying, “I went to the store and bought a [fill in the blank].” This person can choose any item that you can buy at a store (e.g., apple or donut). The next person repeats the phrase and adds their own item (e.g., I went to the store and bought an apple and milk.) Continue adding to the list. See how far you and your kids can get before someone forgets an item!


If you’re stuck in traffic or waiting for an appointment, have your kids practice their multiplication tables. Recite an equation and see if they can answer it. You can make this more fun by playing “Around the World,” with the winner from each round moving on to compete against the next person.

Rhyming words

Choose a word (hint: not “orange”). Take turns coming up with a word that rhymes with it. The game ends when you can’t think of any more words that rhyme. Whoever came up with the last rhyming word is the winner!

String games

This one may require a small time investment. Teach yourself a few string games like Cat’s Cradle or Jacob’s Ladder. Then, make sure you have a short length of string in your purse or diaper bag. When your kids are inevitably bored, teach them to play the string games you’ve learned—or see what kind of games they can come up with.

Waiting doesn’t have to be boring. A few simple games can keep kids occupied—without resorting to electronics. What are some waiting games or activities you play with your kids?

About the author

Kristin Personette

  • Angela Todd

    I love playing the “what’s in there?” game — what’s in that dump truck? That back pack? That cabinet in the doctor’s office? Crazy guesses are the best, and ping pong balls and penguins seem to always get a laugh from my kids. Thanks for the list of alternatives to electronics! xx a

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