It's a Monday, late afternoon. You're sitting in the crowded waiting room of your pediatrician's office. Sick-looking kids in pajamas are running around, while you try to keep your healthy toddler confined to a chair -- and away from the toys that lots of other little hands have touched.
If you're a parent, you've been there.
And no doubt the question, at times like that, has crossed your mind: How can I schedule doctor's visits for children in order to make them fast, efficient -- even fun?
It turns out, there are some insider tips that can get you in and out of the pediatrician's office in a flash.
Keep in mind, these are guidelines for scheduling a doctor's visit for a well child -- one who needs a check-up or routine treatment, like a sports physical. If your child is sick, call the doctor right away or go in immediately to the office; and if it's an emergency, obviously, go to the emergency room.
But for those routine visits? Consider this tip list your stealth weapon to make them a breeze. (You can thank us later -- when you're headed home with a smiling preschooler clutching a sticker or balloon.)
Avoid Mondays and Saturdays. These days are the Bermuda Triangle of the pediatrician's office. On Mondays, you are sitting with all sorts of kids who got sick over the weekend and need to be looked at right away -- the waiting room will be overrun with sneezers, coughers and vomiters. On Saturday, too, the office is full of kids who got sick during the week but had parents who put off taking them in because of work or school conflicts.
Do the smart thing, advise experienced staffers at local pediatricians' offices. Schedule a routine appointment for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Fridays can be good times, too, staffers said.
"Mondays are crazy. I don't know what happens over the weekend, but -- something happens on Sundays," said Donna LeViness, office manager at Delaware Pediatrics on Delaware Avenue, with a laugh. "People don't want to start the week off bad -- so if they have any kind of a symptom, they come in."
"Fridays aren't that bad," she said.
If it's for routine care or an annual appointment, try for spring or fall.
Winter can be a bad time because cold-and flu-carrying children will be jammed into the waiting room. And, contrary to what you might expect, summer can also be very busy, said LeViness.
"Our busiest time of the year is summer, for physicals," she said. "All of a sudden people need them for camp, they need them for entering school, or they need them for sports for school. Also, kids are off from school, so it's convenient for parents."
Time of day is also key.
It's a big factor in how happy or miserable you may end up being in the waiting room. Veterans of the pediatricians' scene said that the most efficient appointments are the first ones of the day, or the mid-morning ones.
Don't schedule routine visits for after-school hours, when you'll be fighting a flood tide of kids who got sick at school, or parents who made the appointments for after their child's school day.
"I know after-school time is popular, but doing them first thing in the morning, and then going to school a little bit late is better," said LeViness. "Everybody is sort of fresher. The kids are rested, they are relaxed, they're happy."
Keep kids away from toys and other office materials.
"Don't let children wander around," she advised. "Wash your hands when you leave. And you may want to bring your own books to look at."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times