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Five Things to do When You're Standing in a Queue

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by Jenny Scott (subscribe)
I'm an award-winning online writer and journalist.
Published March 15th 2013
Don't let a queue spoil your family day out
You've planned your big trip. You've packed the car, you've got everybody organised, lost shoes have been located, snack bag has been fully loaded… and then comes the sucker punch.

You arrive at your fabulous family day's out destination, only to discover every other parent in the country has thought along exactly the same lines as you.
Queuing at the Natural History Museum, London
Queuing round the block at the Natural History Museum, London, during school holidays

Queuing on a day out
And there they all are. Flowing out of the gates, a great mass of them standing in huddles between you and the ticket booth. And their kids are all wearing two shoes, they too have snacks… basically they've managed to get their act in gear quicker than you. Doesn't life suck?

How to pass the time in a queue
Not only that – you've now got 45 minutes to kill with your whinging kids clinging to your ankles and pulling Edvard Munch "Scream" expressions. They only thing that seemingly distracts them from their boredom is when they start fist-fighting with each other, barging into everybody around you, which is highly embarrassing for all concerned.

Queues: Keeping the kids entertained
Pretty soon, they're wailing: "Mu-um – why did we bother coming?" A question to which you do not know the answer.
But do not despair. Queuing, believe it or not, can be fun, educational and entertaining. Yes, really. By the time you've followed these five tips, you'll be having such a riot, you'll have forgotten what you were actually queuing for. Well, maybe not. But give them a go anyway.

1) Have a sing-song. I learned this tip from watching Brazilians at Disneyworld. There were about 40 of them wearing matching t-shirts in every queue we joined. Always singing. Now, speaking as a repressed Brit, I admit we could find this one a little embarrassing. So let's be clear – I'm not talking about unleashing a Celine Dion ballad on your unsuspecting fellow queue-members. No, just silly songs, perhaps split out into parts, where each of your kids has to remember their lines. A good example was our recent jaunt to the Natural History Museum in London where I got mine to sing Walk The Dinosaur by Was Not Was and they had to join in with the "Boom, boom, acka-lacka-lacka-boom" lines. But any daft song will do. You'll have cleared those cordons in no time.

Queues at the Natural History Museum, London
The queues at the Natural History Museum, London
Do your research. It may take a bit more organisation, but try to do some prep on your chosen destination before you arrive. You can then set your kids challenges – what do they want to see? Who's going to be the first to find this and that? Who can remember the most about the attraction? Try to ratchet up the excitement as much as you can, so by the time your kids reach that ticket booth, they're hopping with anticipation, rather than dragging their feet.

3) Play I spy. Yes, it's a classic, but it's still one of the best ways to puncture boredom. And just because you're standing in the same place for half an hour doesn't mean you exhaust all options quickly – if anything, your I spies can just get increasingly obscure.

4) Go for the record. This one depends on your kids being old enough to tell the time. They have to break the record for time spent standing still in one place. As soon as the people in front of you move forward, the record is gone and you have to start again. If they get bored of this, there are several variations – such as how long can you stand on one foot. Anybody who wobbles into the people in front receives a lifetime ban from such games in future.

5) Get snap happy. Giving your kids a little disposable camera will keep them engaged all day long. They can make a start on their ambition to be the next David Bailey right there in the queue. Who can pull the ugliest face? Who can give daddy rabbit ears without him noticing? A word to the wise – you may have to keep a spare camera in your bag for the actual day itself.
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Why? Don't let a queue spoil your day out
When: Mainly school holidays
Where: Theme parks, museums, Disney... any popular destination
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