Those of you with large families will identify with my challenge: do I do this with six or eight children in dribs and drabs over two months, or should I just set aside one day and get everyone in for their cleaning and checkups and get it over with?
I've tried it both ways.
For a couple of years I would make each child an appointment, and make myself one, and take several weeks to work through all the checkups plus extra appointments for any who might have had a little cavity or two. But every time I made a trip to the dentist with one of them, it took a half day out of my week. So one day I got the bright idea to just make all their appointments, and mine, on the same day so that I only drove there once and back and all of it would be behind us for another six months.
The problem was, most of the dental offices I called didn't think it was such a bright idea. In fact, most refused to schedule more than two of us at the same time.
If you've never tried this tactic, you might be surprised at the resistance you'll get from your neighborhood dentist. Finally, some patient dental receptionist explained it to me: dental offices have a very difficult time with people not showing up for appointments, and every time this happens, a slot is left empty with too little notice to get it filled and they lose valuable time and money. But one in the course of a day is not a disaster for them. On the other hand, it takes just one mother forgetting the day's dental appointments for them to lose an entire morning of slots if they've given them all to the same family! Once this was pointed out to me, I was much more sympathetic to the problem, and once I found a dentist who was willing to listen to my pleas and take a chance on us, I stuck with her! If there's to be any variation at all in our agreed upon schedule, I call as early as I possibly can so as to preserve the trust and goodwill we've built up.
So...we pack books, workbooks, a deck of cards, quiet toys when the children were younger, and a small snack for thirty minutes after the flouride so the ones who go first have something to look forward to later. Our office has come to look forward to our kids being there and watching them work and play and laugh (quietly) together in the waiting room. I am careful to make sure we clean up after ourselves and don't do anything to disturb other patients, partly because that's the right thing to do and partly because I want to preserve the privilege of being able to "camp out" in their office for several hours!
Today was uneventful, other than the fact that I had to run a couple of the kids home midway so as not to miss an online class. We're now polished clean and supplied with new toothbrushes (as if I'd use the ones they give out at the office!) and good to go for another six months. And all of us are a few chapters farther in our novels than we were at 8:30 this morning!