Wait Time Ideas

When we are stuck waiting somewhere with our kids, consider trying this:

Instead of taking out our phones and checking them ourselves while expecting our children to behave, and then handing them our phones out of desperation when they don’t, let’s take a few minutes to prepare ahead of time so we have some tools to use if we find ourselves in a waiting situation.

waiting photo

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 When my boys were small, I always carried small chunky board books in our diaper bag.  Easy to read aloud or for them to “read” to themselves.

  Now that both of my kids can read, our easiest go-to wait time activity is books.  If we know we will be waiting somewhere for awhile, we each grab our current book and take it with us.

On-the-Go Activity Bag

I try to carry a small pouch with me in my purse when I know we’re going to experience a wait.  It is a clear zippered bag made out of a sturdy plastic that some lotions came in years ago.  I kept the bag and repurposed it as an activity bag.  In it contains a few activities that my kids can do for a few minutes or longer while we wait.  These were mostly items that I gathered from around our house.  I’ve added to it from time to time, but it has contained most of the same things for about 5 years.  If you want to make an Activity Bag and don’t have these exact items, feel free to improvise and add items you have around your house.

You will most likely already have these items:

small pad of paper

You may not have these items, and may consider purchasing a few:

Scramble Squares puzzle (Ours is pirates themed.  We purchased ours for $0.25 at a yard sale, and played with so much I would have paid $25 for it!)  Even when they don’t correctly solve it, these are still entertaining for kids and adults of all ages.





 Number Slide puzzle

 Wooden fidget puzzle

 Cat’s Cradle string for string games (My boys learned at home with a book, and now we just carry the string around.  It fits easily in my pouch. )

Wikki Stix are a relatively new addition to the activity bag.  A restaurant we visited this summer gave some out with their children’s menus, and my kids were thoroughly entertained!


My kids usually share the pouch and take turns with the activities in it.  If you have many children or vastly different ages, you may prefer to make more than one pouch.

 A Rubik’s Cube is also usually found in my purse these days and often used during wait times.

Plan for It

Before a wait, you can talk to your kids about your expectations for their behavior.   Different situations call for different behaviors, and talking it through ahead of time will help your kids know what to expect.

  • Doctor’s Office/Hair Appointment/Other seated in a chair type of waiting: books, stickers, wikisticks
  • Restaurant (or other have a table in front type of waiting): Use an activity bag while waiting for the meal, but then once the food arrives, put the activities away, eat and talk together as a family.
  • Car: books, car activity books, travel bingo, audiobook as a family


Teach your children how to wait.  Model what it means to sit and have idle time.  Talk to each other. Share stories about the day.  Do a puzzle together.  Color.  Read aloud.  These ideas seem obvious, but we are forgetting to do them.  Next time you have a wait, instead of pulling out your phone, try planning ahead and bring an activity bag.

Happy Waiting!