It’s called waiting time.
Waiting on the dentist or orthodontist. Waiting for the practice to end or the game to start. As time passes, it’s easy to go brain-dead, surfing the smartphone or watching Nickelodeon on the pediatrician’s TV. (Don’t you feel like an idiot when you watch these blaring TVs?)
But recently I realized that this default mode leaves me unhappy. After an hour spent aimlessly surfing the internet while waiting for my 11-year-old at ballet, I felt ornery. That tiresome refrain rang in my mommy mind, “Woe is me. I didn’t get anything done.”
So I started trying to make the most of waiting time. The following strategies have improved my productivity or at least boosted my mood.
Great Ways to Wait
• Connect to Parents: Why talk on the cell when you can speak to someone live? Waiting rooms are a good place to meet other moms and get advice. At the orthodontist’s, I learned that Whole Foods has great soups to feed a child struggling with new braces. Loved that chicken noodle. Thanks Camille!
• Work: Reading something on paper in a new environment often provides a fresh take, allowing you to catch errors that didn’t surface on the office computer. Print out that business letter and review it at the dentist’s office while junior is having his pearly whites cleaned. Or review the boss’s latest strategic plan. The holes will quickly appear.
• Be Together: Don’t check email while waiting with your child. Connect! Peruse a magazine together. Poke fun at the TV show you can’t escape. When my children were younger, we played tic-tac-toe on a notepad I carried in my purse. Now I let my teen teach me new tricks on the smartphone. It’s humbling but fun.
• Read Blogs: Blogs cover every subject imaginable and their posts are free. Visit your favorites on the internet or have their latest posts ready by downloading a blog reader app to your phone. Once the app is installed, subscribe to blogs you like by clicking on their orange RSS feed buttons. Updates will then appear on your phone reader. (The RSS feed for MidAge Mom is on the upper right by the Twitter and Facebook buttons.)
• Exercise: Sitting for long periods is deadly. Move! I now do squats in a corner of the ballet waiting room. (Dance moms think this is normal.) The orthodontist’s office works for isometrics. We should all be doing kegels everywhere, all the time. Afraid I’m behind on that one. How about you?
• Research: Surf the internet but with a mission. Find a great new recipe. Price a trip. Investigate a workshop. Or go ahead – pursue that dream purchase. You can find me on B & H Photo, lusting after the Nikon D7000.
• Dream: One smart mom I know keeps her goals on her iPhone’s notes app to check during waiting time. This keeps her focused on the big picture. (She’s a life coach, so she knows how to stay on track.) Surely this beats telling yourself you don’t have time to be where you are. And I’d rather dream big than dwell on the orthodontist’s bill.
• Refresh: Often what we really need is to stare out of the window and do nothing. I feel so much better when I give myself permission to relax while waiting rather than trying to squeeze another task out of my tired brain. Breathe in. Breathe out. Try this great three-minute mindfulness meditation. Unwinding is doing something.
How Do You Wait?
I’d love to know how you use this time. Any phone apps you like? Any brain-dead habits you’d like to give up? Please comment below!
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Photo Credit © Bonita Cheshier/Dreamstime.com