Survival Guidelines For Taking Your Kids To Your Doctor Appointments


If you’re a spoonie you know that our lives are often times filled with more doctors’ appointments than we’d like. If you’re a mother you know that dragging kids to those war zones appointments can be more daunting than hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and equally as challenging as scaling Mount Everest. Many of the spoonie parents I know make a concerted effort to get childcare for these half day marathons. I, however, do not.

There are many things in life that we don’t want to attend (work meetings, for example). There are many times we don’t want to behave (those same work meetings). As a mother I want to prepare my boys for these situations and I use my exhausting rheumatology appointments as an opportunity for a life lesson.

Fortunately I’m not the type to go to battle without any ammunition. I bust out the MK-47’s creativity and pack my holster diaper bag with hidden distraction bombs activities that will help me prevent my kids from losing their mind and body while I’m having mine poked and prodded.

So, my dear fellow spoonie parents, here is a guideline for how to make a trip to the doctors’ office as painless as possible (when it comes to bringing your kids, of course…I can’t do anything about your doctor’s cold hands).

1. Bring portable snacks and drinks. I have found that Cheerios and granola bars are good for this. Make sure you don’t just hand your child all of the snacks as once. I tend to hand them one or two cheerios at a time and keep the bag in my lap. This will prevent them from inhaling everything you have before the nurse even gets your weight and vitals.

2. Bring activities.

a. For younger kids bring the quiet baby toys. Make sure to use the toy links so you can link all of the toys to the stroller. Otherwise you will end up playing a game of “throw it down so mommy/daddy will pick it up”.

b. For the older kids bring coloring books, books, and other types of items. Some parents are ok with letting their children use their iPhones and iPads. I’m not that parent, but I’m sure it’s also a great distraction. Also, let them choose which toys they would like to bring. Then sneak in one more that you know they’ll like. If you can get them a new dollar store toy every once in a while then great. If not, go through the toy box for something they haven’t played with in a while and then bust that out mid appointment.

3. Know bathroom locations. Your child will announce she has to poop while the doctor is running down the list of your symptoms. Be ready for this and know where the nearest bathroom is in relation to your exam room. I have actually had this happen to me. My son was kneeling on the floor with his head between his legs and when I asked if he was ok he said, “Oh no, Mom. I have to POOP!” My doctor couldn’t help but laugh as I quickly rushed to the bathroom to aid Fireman in dropping the kids off at the pool.

4. Take them to the potty or change their diaper before you enter your appointment. As mentioned above when a kid’s gotta go, a kid’s gotta go. So to avoid this mishap make sure that your kids are fully relieved (as much as you can, clearly you can’t stick a suppository up there before your appointment) so that you won’t have them dropping a deuce mid-meeting.

5. Bring an extra change of clothes (for your children, not you). I have had my son fall asleep in the stroller and pee his pants. Fortunately I had back up clothing and we were clean and dry before the doctor even made it to the room.

6. Don’t be frazzled. Don’t stress out when your child starts to make noise or squeal. They’re kids and it will happen. As they get older you will be able to better explain that while the doctor is there that is the time for your child to play quietly. However, this is easier to teach if your child has been exposed to the situation before. After three years my three year old is just now starting to understand that he needs to play quietly when the doctor is near. He’s not perfect at this, but he’s learning.

7. Don’t give all of your goodies out at once. Stretch out what you’ve brought as activities and distractions throughout the appointment. As a parent you’ve already built an insane ability to multi-task. Use it as you entertain your kids.

8. Be prepared for anything. You may not always know what to expect. You may not think it’s going to happen because it never does. Except, the one time you don’t bring something for that situation it will happen by the power of the Almighty Murphy’s Law. So, bring all that you can “just in case”. You never know.

I have often been told that I was insane for intentionally bringing my kids to the doctor’s office with me. I don’t think I’m insane, I’m just up for the challenge. I’m determined to help my kids learn that it’s important to behave no matter the situation. They were unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) born to a mother that lives her life taking medications daily and going to doctors appointments and specialists constantly. If I can’t take something from my illness and teach a lesson to my boys then I’m not doing them any favors. Yes, it’s harder to take them, but in the end when I use my guideline it’s a pretty easy ordeal.

Try it the next time you enter the warzone and let me know what happens.


Article written by staff writer, Sara Swati


 Sara lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and two young sons. She was diagnosed with lupus in June 2003 and a few years later Fibromyalgia was added to the list. In her former life (aka life before children) she was a high school biology and chemistry teacher, but had to “retire” early due to her illnesses. After years of infertility due to her invisible illnesses, she became pregnant with a “sticky bean” right before she left her job. She now enjoys the time she has where her children are still smaller than her and she has size as an intimidation factor…at least until they’re eight years old. She can always be found at or Twitter @mothershideaway

  • Marie

    I’ve done all the things listed above and my 5 year old is still a brat. If I can avoid bringing him I will. The problem I run into is he constantly wants my attention if I’m talking to another adult. He does ok if the wait is short, but the longer it gets the more antsy he gets. He insists on talking then the doctor or nurse insists on relating to him which makes him talk more it’s like these people are not recognizing I’m trying to teach him to be quiet and they encourage him to keep talking. Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to bring them because of lack of help and expense of childcare. I have very little help and my inlaws do nut understand that not all appointments can the kids tag along. That’s the first question MIL asks if we ask her to watch them is why don’t you bring them with you. She brags about how she took her kids to anything but she was rarely sick and has enough family to pitch in. I know she asked that when younger boy got his tubes adenoids out because hubby said uh the paperwork specified no siblings are all. The paperwork specificially specified not bringing siblings so we had the help of the doctor’s office saying no. I’m to the point of removing privilages from him when he acts out in a doctor’s office because at some point something has got to get through to him that he is to be quiet in a doctor’s office. I’m avoiding having some stuff done because of the timing and lack of child care and listening/ responding to to “but why” when hmm allergy testing takes hours and he cannot shut up for a 15 minute appointment.

  • Ghada

    You only think about your self and your kids did you ever think about the staff and physician feelings and if it’s ok for her or him to have kids while interviewing and examine you !!!!! It’s so challenging and disturbing for your benefits do not take them once and see how your physician treat you differently and not rush you out because of your kids noise .

  • Diana

    What would you do in this situation? I have to go to an out of town appointment to see a specialist (I may have MS or a number of other scary things). I’m horrible scared about what my diagnosis may be; I’m in tears daily over it. I know for sure the dr will do a thorough neurological exam and a spinal tap. This will take several hours.
    My husband is absolutely insisting that we bring our 14 month along (its only an overnight trip). I told him I didn’t want to because: 1. We will now have to pay for checked luggage while before we were only going to carry on. 2. I have to cancel the babysitter who rearranged her grandmothers birthday party to accommodate us. 3. The people we are staying with are not kid friendly so now we have to pay for a hotel. 4. I do 99.9% of the day to day baby care, which means while I’m having a painful procedure and possibly getting deviating news I will have to worry about entertaining her, feeding her, changing diapers and lugging around all her things.
    I’ve told all of this to my husband and he (like always) says he’ll do everything. I don’t for one second believe him. Should I be passive aggressors and not pack a damn thing and then shrug my shoulders when he realizes that our kid has no where to sleep etc? Should I refuse him entry to the doctors office? Not make hotel reservations?
    Sorry for the rant but this appointment is so important and I know ill be distracted by my busy toddler and not ask the right questions and end up not getting the information I desperately need especially at an initial appointment.

  • mary

    what happens when your children are afraid of you dying and fearful of hearing about their mother being sick?  i’d love not to have to find the $ to pay for childcare and i have an extremely tough time finding childcare given i have no local family or friends who can pitch in, but i’m worried my eldest (almost 5yrs) will hear things she shouldn’t or will be concerned 

  • Anne Frates

    Another activity that I often used when my kids had to accompany me to doctor appointments, lo, these 20 years ago: I always had a pack of crayons, and asked them to decorate the paper sheet on the examining table. The doctor and nurses usually got a kick out of it, it would be thrown away after anyway, and it was more creative than coloring books.

  • Becky

    What a great list!

    I only have one addition, which I’m sure most Spoonies wouldn’t do anyway but which has happened when I’ve been running clinics – if you need to change baby’s nappy during a consultation, don’t throw the dirty nappy into the doctor’s waste paper bin. Not only is it smelly, but you never know whether your doctor, like me, is a Spoonie herself on immune suppressants! Thankfully it’s only happened a couple of times.

    You sound like a really considerate Mum and Patient, I’m impressed!

  • I too took my children to my appointment. 1. because I needed their father, who was their primary caregiver to drive me, so we all got to ride in for the circus; and 2.) I discovered that as a female, my complaints and problems were taken much more seriously with a man backing up the conversation. Even if he was less professional, younger, of lower education, hadn’t done as much research and wasn’t living in the body. It was irritating, but we use it as a team now. He’s more than intelligent to see that my doctors don’t have any respect for my intelligence or the fact that I’m the one living in the body, so he pushes points that he knows I can’t, quite often.

    But taken my kids also got them acclimatized to that extra person living in our house, “disability.” I only ever had one appointment refuse to let my children come in with me and it was an intake appointment on a psychiatric. I was amazed considering a had a full psychiatric in my charts and there was NO WAY I’d be comfortable enough to say anything in a first meeting that I would be uncomfortable with my kids hearing.

    Living with a hidden disease everyday is a constant challenge and uphill climb.

  • Kat

    I want to print this list out and hand it out to people I have seen at my Drs office. You would think this was common sense stuff because my mother did all these things for me (when I had to go see my own docs as a first time mom at 22). Now I have to pack my own entertainment, usually my Nook or a new paperback and my mom gets the joy of still filling out my insurance info.

    But entertaining your own children now seems to be an outdated principle. Sorry I know most parents love their kids and maybe can’t afford child care but I’m in this office because I’m sick, tired, in pain and just want to see my doctor. Not hear little Timmy wail at the top of his lungs as he runs in circles or sneezes on me.

    I’m all for teachable moments but until your child has become more well behaved leave them at home or do a dry run somewhere else, like the DMV.

    So as a plea from the sick to parents everywhere, take these tips and you can change the world!!

    And Sara you’re a great mother, wishing you all the spoons you need!

  • Dawn

    These are excellent tips! This is exactly what I used to do with my toddler when I used to have remicade infusions. Everyone used to marvel how well behaved he was, but he was just kept really busy :). My kids do not like it, but they are now 7 and 9 years old and are experts at going to the dr-whether for me or themselves

  • JUDY


  • Karem Vasquez

    I agree, it is a good life lesson for them. Kid’s need to learn to do things they don’t want to. As parents, it’s our job to make them do things they don’t want- as fun and sadistic as it sounds- it’s true. They will develop patience. I got compliments waiting in line at Disneyland about my son and how patient he is. I was flattered, but I had to give it to my son, he learned his patience by waiting for mommy because EVERYTHING takes her longer.
    Great post. I look forward to reading more and keping up with your blog.:-)

  • Melody Ream

    I love this. Oh how I wish more parents (healthy ones too) would learn to do this with their children. I get annoyed sitting in waiting rooms with other parents who let their children go free and do whatever they want. Our kids need to learn to respect others and learn when it’s time for “quiet” play time. My children are far from perfect but they know how to behave in doctors offices as well as in hospitals.

    I’d like to add 2 things to your list; baby wipes and hand sanitizer. I’m not afraid of germs but I try to limit our exposure by making sure hands get washed or GermXed after leaving the doctors office or hospital.

  • Miranda Rice

    I say you are a great mother and great woman and someone who uses her brain to control that which she can, teach what she knows, and your children will be all the stronger & smarter because of it. I can think of many work meetings (back when I could work) that would have been ever so much more bearable if some of the participants had you as a mom!
    Best wishes, Bright Blessings & Good Luck!
    Sincerely, Miranda

  • Except for tips 4 and 5, these tips also work for bringing a mother to a doctors appointment with you.

    Great article!