How to Wait in Line with a Toddler – without murdering anyone!

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Lots of times when you go on trips with toddlers, you are going to have to wait in line. Heck, just go to the grocery store or gas station and you have to wait in line! Anyway, we all know that most toddlers are NOT good at waiting for much of anything. When we took Little C to Disney World at 16 months old, we were very much afraid of lines. Thankfully, we had an army of grandparents and Fastpasses that helped tremendously with the line issue there, but lines can’t always be avoided.

We took C today to an aquarium/theme park type place. She loved it all and we loved the non-line-infested indoor air-conditioned aquarium part! Here’s some shots of that easy part of the day.

After we ate and did the inside attractions, we headed outdoor into the humid, sticky, hot sauna. This park/restaurant wasn’t near on the scale of Disney World, but we wanted in a line for a 6 minute train ride for about 40 minutes. I think that is longer than any line we waited in at Disney (thank you grandparents and Fastpass!). Did I mention again this line was outside in July Texas heat?! Needless to say The Man thought I was bonkers for insisting we should wait. I really left it up to C…..kept asking if she wanted to wait for the train and she kept saying “yes”. That doesn’t mean she liked waiting though….at all! Here’s some tips for lines with toddlers……. BTW, all of these tips assume that your munchkin isn’t overly tired. Don’t try to push nap time too much or all further efforts at fun will go down in a screaming heap of toddler. 🙂

1. Bribery. We had just bought her a stuffed white tiger from the gift shop. Yeah, more stuffed animals!! She absolutely adored it though. The timing was perfect as she had a brand new favorite toy to play with while waiting in line. If you are going somewhere that you expect lines, just go ahead and plan on having either a new or favorite toy handy and only pull it out while waiting in line. I swear the biggest smiles all day came from that stuffed white tiger!

2. Switch off. Assuming it isn’t just you in line with the kiddo, switch off every 5-7 minutes who is in charge of holding/entertaining. This is especially true when it is hot and you are holding a 27 pound hot potato. If you have multiple kids this may not work as well, but still something to consider. If you find yourself getting frustrated waiting in line and you let it show to the all knowing mini-me, you are done for. So, just switch before that happens. Here you can see the magic of the tiger fading………time for a switch-off!

3. Toy Story. Any movie will do, but for us right now it is Toy Story that we have ready to go on streaming Netflix on the iphone. She couldn’t hear it because it was too loud with all the commotion of the park, but it did help keep her interested for a good portion of the line. This works wonders in airports, airplanes, and car rides, too!

4. Keep talking about why you are in line. I can’t tell you how many times we talked about the train we were waiting for. By the time she got to board she knew all about the sounds the train would make and was saying “all aboard!” herself. I think she was pretty much ready to be the conductor. It did help a lot. Even though she is only 18 months, I think she really was able to understand that we were waiting our turn for a ride.

5. Snacks and drinks. In this case we had just had a HUGE lunch, so we didn’t snack in line. It is a great time killer though. We did have to drink out of necessity as we were melting and sweating like pigs. Since once you got in the winding line you were pretty much stuck, it was a good things I had drinks stashed in my “mommy purse”. Plan ahead and keep a good stash on you at all times!

When it was eventually our turn, C was very excited to ride the train! I think the heat had exhausted us her, but she still really enjoyed it. It was worth the wait.

With some planning, patience, and tricks up your sleeve even the zaniest toddler can survive a wait in line. Trust me when I say that Little C is not the laid back people-watching type. If she can do it, anyone can! Let me know if you have some other great line tricks for your little ones!

One final shot with another huge grin from today! Notice the proximity to the tiger.

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  1. Good stuff! Traveling to Florida (with my miles earned of course :)) at Christmas with, what will be then, an 18 month old. Never even thought of the lines!

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