5 Fun Games to Keep Energetic Children Busy During a Long Wait

The unexpected can throw a stick in the spokes for little ones who thrive on routine. Sometimes we have to move out of a home while work is being done, or a parent might have to be away unexpectedly on a business trip. These kinds of bumps in the road have a greater effect on children than adults, especially young ones. When your child has a long wait ahead of her, it’s important to find the fun; this will make it much easier on all the members of the family. Try out some of these fun games and ideas to help you while away the time while you wait for life to get back to normal.


Have to move out of the house while work is being done? Pretend to be spies that have to move to a new place to complete a “mission.” Create tasks and goals for kids that help you explore the neighborhood and find fun activities. Kids who are a little older will need a parent really willing to go the extra mile; think disappearing ink letters (lemon juice on paper), silly disguises, and hidden clues. Let your imagination run wild on this one!

Story Round-Robin

If you’re on a long drive, there are only so many games of “I-spy” you can play before kids get restless. Try a round robin story-telling session instead. One person starts the story, then others add on. The joy is that the storyteller gets to take the story wherever they want during their turn; be prepared for some crazy tales! Adding a few rules about keeping characters and staying generally on-theme can help the story along so that it doesn’t fizzle out too quickly.

Welcome Home!

Sometimes parents or caregivers have to go away unexpectedly; business trips, caring for an aging parent, or any number of emergencies might take a parent away from home. Whoever is left with the little ones can distract and entertain with fun activities or outings, but another option is to plan a homecoming for the traveling parent. Make a banner and card, bake cookies, choreograph a dance; each day can feature a new activity that will culminate in a much-appreciated celebration of the traveling parent’s return.

Room Memory

Have kids write down as many things as they can remember from a particular room in the house. Prizes for whoever has the most correct items on the list! This works better with older kids, but adults can scribe for little ones who can’t write yet.

Design Your Room

Moving to a new home can be a major stressor for kids of any age, so a fun way to give them back a bit of control is to allow them some autonomy when setting up bedrooms. Help children draw out the shape of the room and location of doors and windows, then let them experiment with placement of their bed, dresser, and other personal items. When the moving company comes, there will be fewer tears and more sense of personal agency when they proudly ask the movers to place their bedroom furniture.

Waiting can be tough on kids, but parents can be proactive with some fun games that will stave off boredom, relieve anxiety, and distract them from the drudgery of waiting around. Be sure to have a few fun games and activities in your arsenal of fun to win the waiting game.

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