In the Bag: Keeping Kids Happy at the Doctor’s Office


Anyone else’s kids always seem to get sick on a weekend at 8:00 p.m.? Flash forward to a scene in the waiting room. Waiting. Kids crawling all over you. They’re tempted to run around. You scan the place and all you see is germs. “When are we going to go, mommy?” You make it into a room. More waiting. “Mommy, can I use your phone?” Nope. Not this time. Not today. Step aside, Mary Poppins, you brought the magic bag.

Nobody wants their child to be ill, to be suffering or in distress. Inevitably, though, everyone gets sick. As a mom of three young men, we tend to sometimes have multiple sick kids at the same time and our doctor visits mean finding ways to keep everyone calm, engaged, and happy as a unit for a while in a small space.

Recently these typical tricks were put to the test during a 24-hour emergency trip to the hospital with one of my kids and I was so glad we brought along these items. I threw a bag together five minutes before heading out to the ER with my son and it made every moment of the experience easier and less stressful.

In the Bag: Books

This was the first thing I threw into the overnight bag. My favorite are the Usborne series. The lift-the-flap books range for all age groups and they can be whizzed through or can be read slowly and in-depth tab by tab, keeping everyone interested and curious for a long time. These have been my favorites for trips to the doctor.

The small readers are compact and lightweight and a favorite anyway for my emerging reader. They take almost no space and have fun questions for the kids after the story such as word questions or find the difference pictures.

In the Bag: Magnets

There was a stack of about 10 Magformers that I grabbed and threw in the bag. We built them. Rebuilt them. Tried every combination possible. Then brothers showed up with a backpack full of more tiles the next morning as he had been admitted. This easy toy sticks together and packs well. It fits in a purse and is fun even in a small set. The bag may end up staying in the van, on call for times of need.

In the Bag Keeping Kids Happy Doctor

In the Bag: Legos or Building Toys

Grandma showed up with a boxed set that provided something new for my son and he was so thrilled. Building the set, however small, was a break and a change in activity which was much-needed. We’re not talking Harry Potter’s castle or the Death Star, just a neat, compact little truck. Build. (check) Play. (check) Entertain. (check)

In the Bag: Snacks

This can be something simple and ideally not too messy. Two water bottles, two goldfish bags, and two cheese sticks. Think mini school lunch box. Perhaps it’s a banana and an apple or a quick sandwich. Many moms can probably agree that kids get hungry often and when you’re stuck in a waiting room or on an overnight stay somewhere, there may be nowhere to look outside your own bag. Pack the snacks.

In the Bag: Conversation

This probably stems from my own upbringing, but I always make it a point to talk about visits to the clinic with a positive spin. My kids know that a poke or a prick is sometimes needed since our blood gives the doctor a lot of information about how we may be sick. Medicine can sometimes be something we swallow but it could also be something given to us in the form of a shot. Ultimately it’s to help us get better.

These are words we use with our kids and it relieves the anxiety of needles, for sure. I love to tell my kids about my own experience as a kid. For a time I was anemic and had blood drawn regularly. I talk about the little purple butterfly on the end of the needle and how lots of things hurt way more. This is just a little pinch and it’s quick. We also use the spin of “Isn’t that cool?” or “Look at the cool band-aid you get to put over the little boo-boo.” It works just about every time.

Ultimately, our kids are looking to us for cues and they are most definitely relying on us to get through any clinic or hospital visit. Take a few minutes to pack a bag before your next visit. You’re welcome.



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