You rush into your dentist appointment and make it with two minutes to spare. However, as you’re checking in the receptionist tells you the doctor is running about 30 minutes behind schedule, and it’s only 10 in the morning. You find a seat and realize you’ve already read all the outdated magazines, and all the hidden pictures in the Highlights magazine have been circled. Now what are you supposed to do? How will you be able to turn the mundane 30-minute wait into a meaningful way to pass the time?
1. Play "I Spy."
Just like the good ol’ days of keeping the kids occupied in a waiting room or the car, look around and see if you notice anything new or interesting that you’ve never seen before. Maybe there’s a new colorful fish in the tank or a beautiful piece of artwork that will catch your eye. Whatever it is that captures your attention, spend a little time on your smartphone gathering more information about the subject. Not only will your horizons be broadened, but so will your friends’ and family’s when you share you new discoveries with them.
2. Make a friend out of an acquaintance
You’ve been going to the same dentist for the past five years now, and every time you walk in you’re greeted by the same most-of-the-time smiling face. You always exchange the same mandatory pleasantries. But today, while you’re signing in, linger just a few extra minutes and let the receptionist know you appreciate how she’s holding it all together when most of the patients in the office seem to be quite annoyed by having to wait. You can even help shift her attention by asking a few personal questions that you can remember to follow-up with the next time you see her. Things like, when she gets a vacation or who the babies are in the pictures on her desk. When you make her feel appreciated, you’ll be creating a ripple effect for the folks behind you to be greeted by a more pleasant receptionist so they, too, can feel appreciated.
3. Make another new friend
Chances are you’re not the only one stuck in the waiting room, so why not chat it up with the person sitting next to you? She could be that new best friend you were praying for this morning. Or better yet, she could be that connection for a babysitter or the new job you’ve been considering to pursue. Who knows who could be sitting next to you? Every now and then, the stranger you barely said, "Hi" to as you were getting comfortable is the EXACT person who was put there to help you meet a need. There’s also a good chance you just may be the answer to her prayers, as well. But you’ll never know unless you make a move and strike up a conversation.
Take a few minutes to review your calendar and make sure there’s play time in it for you and your family. Even if it’s just having dinner with your family one night a week, schedule it in. Also write in at least one date night a month with either your friends or your significant other. Grown-up time is just as imperative as family time. When you’re refreshed from taking a much needed break from life, you’ll find those 30-minute waits far more tolerable.
5. Send some long-distance love
Grab some note cards to keep with you for such a time as this. Take a few minutes to write a quick “thinking of you” to someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Snail mail may be a lost art form, but being on the receiving end of an unexpected message has the potential to change someone’s day even years after its arrival.
6. Take in the sights
Once you’re teeth are all sparkly clean, and you’re back in the car headed to your next adventure, tune into Mother Nature rather than the radio. Just like in the Highlights magazine, Mother Nature’s always got a hidden message or two for you. Even if it’s nothing more than the elephant cloud in the blue sky that made you giggle. Or the squirrel that ran across the road in front of you as a reminder to take your time. Or the cardinal that flew alongside your car as if to say, “Hey there!” If your mind was racing with all the things on your “have to” list, give the squirrel or the bird a quick “thanks” for distracting you from your worries, and for reminding you that mundane is merely an arrow pointing you in the direction of a new perspective and offering you a few minutes of some much needed downtime.
Danica Trebel is a mom to two AMAZING teenage sons, a recovering perfectionist and a Life and Family Dynamics Coach. She specializes in helping families tune up their relationships through perspective, communication and faith www.danicatrebel.com