Games and activities to play while you wait

Whether you are waiting in a queue, on a journey, or in a waiting room, there is no need to write-off waiting time as wasted time! As the world gets more crowded and demands on our daily schedules only ever seem to increase, waiting around for things often seems to be on the rise too!

This is frustrating and impractical for most people at the very least, but for families with young children, it can seem to be verging on the impossible. To top it all off stressed and bored children are so much more likely to misbehave or have tantrums, and this can really turn a routine trip into an unforgettable nightmare.

Well, do not despair, because here we will share some of the best tips & tricks for turning waiting-time terror into a valuable, learning experience that can actually be quite good fun! You’ll even find you have gained some extra quality time together in what would otherwise be an opportunity wasted.

Waiting time activities for tiny ones

  • Babies love sensory items that distract them with colours and textures. You can buy sensory toys and board books or use old fabric swatches on a book ring.
  • Sing lullabies and songs, you can sing them softly holding baby in your arms. (Don’t be shy if people are around. They will prefer that to the screaming!)
  • Bring a favourite puppet or soft toy, something as simple as making Teddy wave can captivate a little one.
  • Pacifiers and comforters can certainly help through times of stress and frustration, or when your attention has to be diverted for a moment. Bring one along.
  • Have realistic expectations. Young infants were not designed to exhibit patience under pressure. But the calmer you can be the more secure they will feel.

Waiting time fun for toddlers

  • Look around the room or area where you are and play find the colour/shape. See how many of each you can find. (Adapt depending on age and ability)
  • Play emotional faces. Pull a face, see if your child can copy the face and then name the emotion you are representing. Happy, sad, angry, worried, sleepy…
  • Have a game of ‘Simon/Momma/Dadda says…’ you can suggest ‘standing on one leg’, or even try ‘sitting as still as a statue’ or ‘being as quiet as a mouse’!

Waiting time games for pre-schoolers

  • Guessing games are great, especially for long journeys. Try guess the animal from its sound. ‘Baa’ ‘Moo’ ‘Woof’ etc. ‘I Spy’ is another winner.
  • Play category based games. Favourites is a good one…’Favourite ice-cream / animal / vegetable etc. Or ‘If you were a fruit what would you be?’
  • Alphabet hunting games. Find all the letters you can on signs, menus, posters… Do them in order or spell your name etc.
  • Get creative! Invent a story or character together and come up with all the silly things that they get up to, and their likes and dislikes. Monster characters are fun – you can get extra creative and draw him later too!

Whatever you try just remember that children are constantly learning, and if you can form positive associations with waiting time, travelling or queuing then stress levels will drop. Keeping your child calm and entertained will help them to develop patience and lower frustrations – yours and theirs!

If you have a busy work life or hectic family schedule why not enrol with Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning and Childcare in NSW? All our centres offer a super fun, activity-based curriculum to help children to learn through play and positive associations.