I am a parent of three children all born within two years of each other. My eldest now is 13, my middle child is 11, and my youngest is now 9 years old. Over the past nine years I have endured many chaotic doctor’s appointments all scheduled at the same time since their birthdays fall within a 6 week span. Initially, when this first happened I thought I hit the jackpot because I could schedule them all at once, which would save me one trip to the doctor’s office versus 3 separate ones. It took me quite a few practice runs before I finally figured out some helpful tips that eventually smoothed out the whole “3 kids for one appointment” experience. Below are some suggestions that have helped me through the years.
1.) Think about the time of the day of the appointment. Remember to avoid nap times, or key “cranky” times for your child. Also, remember to make sure your child is fed or hunger pangs could kick in while you’re in the waiting room. Hunger pangs for my kids usually leads to whining or intense fidgeting. I typically try to make my appointments first thing in the morning so that there is the least chance of prior appointments running late and pushing the entire day back. Or, I try scheduling appointments for the end of the day so that the “itch” of doctors and/or staff wanting to close the office speeds up the process. I used to also plan appointments during my husband’s lunch time. He would come over during that hour so that we could tag-team with our three kids.
2.) After you make an appointment for your children, immediately set a two week and one week reminder in your phone of the upcoming appointment. This allows you ample time to rearrange any last minute scheduling conflicts with two weeks to spare before the actual day.
3.) Talk to your doctor’s office to see if there is an option to sign up for online records, text reminders, reminder calls, and reminder letters/cards. Setting up online records with your doctor will allow you to complete in-take forms beforehand so that you won’t have to do it in the waiting room once you get there. This may also include ASQs.
4.) Use an online calendar to sync appointments with the other adults in your family. An easy online calendar is Google Calendar. You can tag your co-parent, spouse, or nanny so that everyone is on the same page with the most current family calendar.
6.) Talk to your doctor’s office to see if they can add you to an appointment cancellation list. I did this for our dentist. My oldest daughter was initially scheduled 3 months out for a dental cleaning but because I was on an appointment cancellation list I got a call the following week to let me know that another patient had to cancel. The slot was open if I wanted to snag it. . .you bet I sure did!
8.) Make time to prepare an activities bag to bring with you before you head off to the appointment. Items to include in the bag could include children’s books, paper, crayons, small materials like a ziplock full of legos, a small container of play dough, and snacks, etc. Make it fun and include your child the day before in planning what to include in the activities bag.
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