For our family, electronics have taken a backseat.
Do you let your kids use cellphones or tablets in waiting rooms and doctor's offices? I did! While playing the games, my kids were quiet and relatively well-behaved. With the cellphone, we were getting in and out of the doctor's office smoothly. THEN ONE DAY, IT HIT ME!! My daughter just looked at the phone and didn’t communicate how she was feeling to her doctor. Aside from that, as my son grew, he started wanting the phone, too. The cellphone became something to fight over and it was stressful! From that day on, I decided there will not be any electronics in doctor's offices unless there was an emergency.
There was a retraining phase, but I will never go back and my kids are THANKFUL! This was a helpful creative escape that I had with my kids.
My kids are old enough…
My kids are old enough to tell me how they are feeling and if something hurts, so I feel like they can help communicate that to their doctor. After all, they need to learn how to be open and share things with their doctor so they can have the best care possible.
The realization day…
One day, I had my daughter at the doctor and I let her play games on my cellphone. She was polite and said hello to her doctor and then continued playing games. I didn’t think it was a big deal because my son wasn’t there so there wouldn’t be any fighting over the phone. While she played games, I told her doctor what was going on and my daughter didn’t pay attention. She let her doctor examine her without even realizing what was going on. On the way home, it hit me like a pile of bricks. Not only did I realize my daughter was old enough to communicate how she is feeling, but I realized how much harder the doctor’s job is when the patient isn’t communicating. I know pediatricians are used to deciding what is wrong from children that can’t communicate, but there are no reasons my kids can’t help with their care.
My announcement to the kids…
That night, I sat the kids down. I told them we will not be playing the cellphone anymore at the doctor's office. I told them the importance of sharing how they are feeling with their doctor. I also reminded them how they fight over the cellphone. My 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter were really upset about this! They promised me they would talk to the doctor and that they would take turns. They said they would be bored and told me they won’t behave without the cellphone. I reiterated, “We will not be using electronics at the doctor, unless there is an emergency.”
Now what are they going to do?
I decided to go “old school” and start this new phase of life with a creative escape. I found that Michaels store carried canvas tote bags. The kids and I went to the store and picked up two bags, fabric paint, and paint brushes.
When we got home, we got busy making their “to go bags.”
1. The first thing I did was covered the table with paper because we were using fabric paints.
2. I printed off free coloring pages from online.
3. I made the coloring pages into stencils.
4. I held the stencils on the bags while my kids painted (make sure they are wearing old clothes!).
5. We let the bags dry.
6. I put two Command hooks on the wall right by the garage door for the bags.
It is working…
It took a couple of doctor visits for the pull of the cellphone to fade away, but now before we go to the doctor, church, or road trips, etc. my kids excitedly pack their “to go bags.” I don’t even have to remind them anymore. I hear my daughter say, “We need to get our bags ready!”
My only rules for the bags…
"If it fits, it can go and it can’t be too messy or too loud."
My daughter likes to pack coloring books, crayons, and other crafting items (no glue or paints of course). My son has packed some of the funniest things. One day he packed a hard hat! He wore it while I was at my daughter’s parent-teacher conference.
My kids aren’t allowed to get the things out of their bags in the doctor's waiting room, they have to wait patiently until they are back in the exam room. In the waiting room, we play talking games like, “I Spy” and “Would You Rather.”
Have I noticed a change in them?
Yes, 100%, no question about it! My kids happily play with the things they brought. They are well-behaved, most of the time. The best thing is, they are learning to talk to their doctor and share whatever they need to share with her. They are contributing to their care and I sense they are proud of themselves.
We have been using our bags for 3 months. They are holding up well.
This realization has transferred over to our everyday life.
My kids rarely get to play games on a tablet or cellphone. We save these moments for special occasions. My kids were really excited for Christmas because they knew they could play their tablets. Now that Christmas is over, the tablets have been tucked away for a long time. I will let them play their tablets again on someone’s birthday or the next holiday.
The best confirmation about the change happened early last week.
We were at the doctor because my kids were sick and my daughter said that having her bag at the doctor was actually really FUN!
Sometimes changes require a significant adjustment, but the growing pains through it, ends up being totally worth it!
This Creative Escape Card was photographed at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE. Make sure to save this card to your camera roll and share it with a friend if you are needing a creative escape!