How do you Handle Waiting?


September 1, 2013 by Dragonfly Diva

Waiting, wait time, cooling your heels, being patient, taking your turn.  Let’s face it in our present society norm, waiting is not something that any one does easily.  We are to a point where sitting back and just BEING while waiting makes one’s blood pressure rise.  Some people might even feel stressed unless they can come up with something to do to fill the void in activity.

Think about it.  What do you do when waiting in line at the check out counter at the grocery store?

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Do you read the magazine titles?  Pick one up and leaf through it?  Scan the candy bar and gum racks?

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Check your email on your phone?  Play Words with Friends?  Check out friends’ statuses on Facebook?  Have you ever in a really long line resorted to reading the back of the boxes and bags of food in your cart?  (Yeah, I’m guilty of that one.  If you don’t understand that go read my last post about reading at breakfast.)

What do you do when you are popping microwave popcorn?  That’s about two to three minutes worth of wait time.

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Do you stand patiently in front of the microwave and watch the bag get bigger?  Do you shift your weight from foot to foot?  Do you find something else to do in the kitchen to pass the time?  (I’ve learned you can load/unload a lot of dishes from the dishwasher in three minutes.)

In my work life I help early childhood teachers learn and implement best practices within their classrooms.  One of the points my staff and I work to teach is that it is HARD for children to experience wait time during their day.  Try taking a group of preschool children to the water fountain down the hall and see if everyone waits patiently for their turn to get a drink.

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More than likely mischief will occur.  In a group of children who are able to monitor and maintain their behavior it will most likely manifest itself in fidgeting.  In a group where children are less mature you will ultimately see unacceptable behavior – hitting, pushing, running around, etc.  Or, behaviors that will lead to unacceptable ones – getting in each others faces, etc.  So, best practice for teachers is to structure their schedules to reduce the amount of time where children have to wait with nothing to do.  Less than 3 minutes is ideal. So teachers could sing songs with children, read a story, do finger plays or bring out a special puppet just for those transition times when waiting is unavoidable.

Remember my microwave popcorn example…three minutes?  And a long line at the grocery store could be four to five times that long if not longer.  It’s not just children these days that have a hard time waiting.  Adults are just as antsy.  And there in lies the heart of my topic today.

Instead of being a society where we have learned the skills and embraced the value of down time, we are a society that is always on.  So I wonder, are we doing children a disservice by not teaching those skills as they grow and mature.  I’m not saying trying to take preschoolers and MAKE them sit still and commune with silence.  They are just not ready for that.  But I do mean that over the coming years to adulthood how do we encourage comfort in silence and stillness and deep breaths and peace?  I don’t believe we do.

We over book our time and our children’s time.  We are always on the computer, or cell phone, or e-reader, or in front of the TV.  We tweet and we update our statuses, and we check in to see what the rest of the word is up to.  Maybe its time to learn some skills that have been lost over the years to people.

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Just simply being.  Listening to silence, or the chirp of crickets on a warm summer evening; sitting with a friend and just enjoying his company or walking down the street hand in hand.  Suddenly those times that were all about waiting, are no longer just spaces to be filled but times to recoup from the hectic pace, to rest our weary minds and breathe in some of the peace that really is out there among the chaos.

How do you handle waiting?  As a void to fill or a welcome respite?  Please share!


8 thoughts on “How do you Handle Waiting?

  1. tiptoebay says:

    That is most definitely something I need to improve on! Thanks for the post 🙂

  2. aviets says:

    So many parents don’t understand how very hard it is on kids to wait – for anything! Then they react badly when their child has a hard time or acts out in a waiting situation. Such a fundamental bit of parenting knowledge to have. We had bags/backpacks our kids took with us any time there was likely to be wait time. And I often think of Fred Roger’s song, “It’s very, very, very hard to wait.” He was a brilliant man.
    Amy at

    • Mr. Rodgers was an excellent example of someone who “gets” childhood. I love the backpack idea Amy! Reminds me of the goody bags my Mother would put together to give us at the start of our family vacation trips. We were not allowed to open them till we got to the highway – which was about 30 minutes from our house. So see there…enforced wait time! But at the time it was ok. We were all excited to be on the road, and talking about where we were going, so really we were not waiting with nothing to do. Once we hit that highway on ramp it was full steam ahead with the little trinkets, games, etc. that she’d collected over the year for us. And that 30 minutes of waiting was nothing compared to what hours worth of car travel would have been without the bags.

  3. I listen to so much music I generally listen to my own internal jukebox when waiting. I travel on buses a lot and like to watch clouds as a break from reading and computer stuff. Must be getting old.

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