Let's start the new year with a little survival guide. This time of year is hard on everyone, being sick is no fun, and taking little ones to the doctor's office can be stressful. Since I end up taking Matilda to the doctor at least a couple times a month for this or that, I feel like my expert status is justified.
First things first, as soon as we are left alone in the office (we never have to wait in the waiting room since Matilda is immune compromised - lucky us) I get out my disinfectant wipes and give the whole room a bit of a clean. I sit Matilda on the bench and start with the edges that are not covered in paper - don't forget the wall near the bench. Keeping one hand on Matilda, I wipe the stool (Matilda likes to move it round). Next, with Matilda on my hip, I wipe the chairs. After sitting her down on the newly cleaned chair, I move to any extras in the room I think she might touch. The remote to the TV, the edge of the whiteboard, markers, and, of course, the toy that is built into the wall.
Matilda knows this routine and usually waits patiently for me to finish before she gets down to explore. I let her walk around and we talk about expectations, sing some songs, and joke around (this usually lasts ten minutes or until the doctor makes an appearance).
Matilda is mostly cooperative during an examination, but I also have things on hand to distract and entertain. A sucker or candy cane works well if I need her to be quiet while sharing concerns with the doctor or listening to an explanation. When she needs to have her blood pressure taken, I sometimes apply a tattoo to her opposite hand to distract her and keep her still.
While we are waiting for test results or a second opinion, I pace our activities and let Matilda take the lead. It is a good opportunity to let her be independent. If she wants to try and open the wrapper to her snack, sure go for it. If she wants to put on her own tattoo from start to finish, why not. If she wants to play with one of her brother's toys, I let it happen. And, we read lots and lots of books. My mom got Matilda a subscription to the Highlights baby "magazine", Hello. They are perfect for the doctor's office. They wipe clean, are interactive, and include prompts for parents to add to the fun.
And when all else fails after hours of trying really hard to be good, I pull out the iPad or let her play on my phone. She mostly enjoys acting "busy" - getting in to and out of apps quickly after the theme songs finish. But, she loves it and sometimes by the end of an appointment we both need a little break.
Here is a list of what is my bag:
- a sucker
- a snack (one for her, one for me)
- a drink (I bring two for her in case one gets thrown on the floor and one for me)
- a special toy (usually something of her brother's that she doesn't get much time with at home)
- books (I recommend Highlights Hello magazine for babies)
- tattoos or stickers
- a notebook with a pen/special pencil (I usually pretend I am doing something important and we act out a whole scene where she asks for a turn and we go back a forth for a bit before I let her take over my notebook and pen. It makes her feel special and lasts a good amount of time)