When I first began to take my children to the pediatrician I was clueless. I walked in to a crowded waiting room full of children with fevers, colds, and God only knows what else. I tried my best to keep my children healthy and away from sickness the rest of the time and there I was walking into the den of sickness. I watched as the children played with the communal toy, you know the one, the roller-coaster type toy with the sliding wooden beads. Quite frankly I was flabbergasted and wondered what in the world the pediatricians were thinking to have such a toy in their office.
I understand that many children need to go to daycare and that the same set of circumstances applies there. I realize that you can not protect your children from all sickness. I am not living in a cave. There are some illnesses you can protect your children from and you can avoid but not at the doctor’s office! I thought there should be a better way. I have never really complained to the doctor because I suppose it would not be economically sound for the doctor to do anything different. My idea was that they have more examination rooms and have the waiting room open only for the children who were getting immunizations or for check ups and send all the sick children to their own rooms. The children there for immunizations could be sent to one person strictly there for administering shots, the check up kids would have their own set of examining rooms, and the sick kids theirs. But then how thoroughly can they disinfect the rooms for the next poor sick child? That doesn’t even cover the poor parents who are exposed to all those illnesses. Oh well, enough of my theories.
I will get back to how to keep your children well when you do have to take them to the doctor. This is what I did and it worked well for me and my little ones. When they are babies and can not walk yet it is easy because you can just keep them away from the rest of the kids. But when they are toddlers and grade school age they are drawn to the other children and the toys. I made the decision after my children had been through a bout of illness for several weeks to not take them into the waiting room. I would sign in and then take them into the hall outside the doctor’s office. If the office would have been a stand alone office I would have taken them outside to play or sat in the car. Our doctor happened to be in an office building on a higher floor with many offices on one floor.
My daughter was easy, we would just sit and talk, read a book, or color. My son was a little harder because he was so active. I would get a tote bag and load it up with books, coloring books, matchbox cars, a ball, marbles, or whatever. We would check in and tell the nurse we would be in the hall and would she please pop her head out and tell us when it was our turn. They never seemed to mind and seemed happy to do so, at least at my doctor’s office.
We had a wonderful time playing in the hall. We thought of so many games to play with our marbles, cars, and ball or we would do our hidden picture books which my children loved. I would read to them in funny voices, we would color pictures, or if my son got antsy I would take him on a walk around the halls or go to the drinking fountain. They also had a snack bar on the bottom floor and if it got too long we would check with the nurse to see where we were on the list and if she thought it would be long enough for us to pop downstairs and get a snack. I also kept snacks in my bag and we would have a little picnic of sorts which the kids always thought was neat. It seems like the waiting time is doubled or tripled at the pediatrician’s office, we always had to wait an hour or more. Our pediatrician was great and was wonderful with the kids so I endured the wait.
As the kids got a little older we would bring their handheld games too. We even made up games as we sat and waited, especially in the examination room. That is when I started feeling the pressure. Being shut up in a small room with a rambunctious little boy can sometimes be trying. My daughter and I came up with all kinds of games to keep him entertained. We often played a form of hide and seek because he loved that game. We used a penny and we played hide and seek with the penny. We played I Spy out the windows of our room, we were up like six or seven stories and we could see quite a bit from that window.
If your doctor’s office does not have halls and it is cold or rainy outside or the nurses are not amiable about coming out to let you know then this is what I would do. I would sit my children down in the seats and play games with them myself. I would do anything to distract them from playing with the communal toy or to play with the other sick children. Sometimes, depending on what type of person you are, you can talk to the other mothers and find out if they are there strictly for immunization or a check up and then you can get your children together to play with some of the toys you bring. Just being in the waiting room is dangerous but do your best to keep your child away from the children who are obviously very sick. You can usually tell right away.
If my child was one of the carriers of illness, having a fever or rash or evidently contagious in some way I would even go as far as asking them if they had an empty exam room that they could stay in until their turn. Many times I noticed that they were only taking three or four patients back at a time and they had like seven or eight exam rooms. If they had an open one they sometimes would allow it, especially if there was vomiting involved. I remember when my children had chicken pox I let them know we were there and we were asked to wait in the hall until we could get into one of the rooms that became available.
I have found that if you have a nice doctor they nine times out of ten have nice nurses and will accommodate you. Most of them probably have children too and they know how you feel. You do not have to be subject to the illnesses in the doctor’s office, you can make your own rules for your own children. If the nurses are not amiable and do not try to accommodate you then have a talk with your pediatrician about the situation and what you are wanting to do to keep your children from further illness. If the doctor will not help you then I would suggest finding another doctor because if there is one person who should understand how you feel about your children it should be your pediatrician!
Often times I see parents in the waiting room that are just worn out because they work, their children are sick, and life is beating them down. Those are the parents that you see with the blank stares and children climbing all over them. My heart goes out to those parents because I have been there. Sometimes when you are overwhelmed it is time to come up with another plan. Sit down and think of ways you can alleviate some stress, it may be that you sit in the hall and play with your kids. You may look a little strange to some folks but to me it is far better than the alternative.
Blogging was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.