Getting out of the house with the family in tow can be an ordeal, but getting them to follow you along for a series of errands that don’t concern them can be downright stressful! Instead of considering your errands as painful excursions, turn them into adventures with your kids and a great time to connect with them! Here are a few tips to ease the pain of running errands with your kid(s) and make it a more delightful experience!
Have a plan, share it, then stick to it!
I know you’ve heard it time after time after time, but kids are crazy about routines! This can be great when you’re running errands, because they can actually keep you on track and on task. Share the plan for the outing with your kid(s) before you leave the house: first the grocery store, and then a trip to the bank. Then actually stick to it and keep the distractions at a minimum (ahem… the 50% off sale that you happen to walk by). They’ll keep you on task and, in turn, they won’t constantly be asking, “where are we going next?”
Be mindful of time and stops
It’s not fun when you alone have to drive to 5 different locations, let alone the hassle of parking your car each time and getting in and out of the car. Multiply that by 10 and realize that your child hates it that much more with car seats and strollers and baggage that they bring along. Oh my! Try to organize your errands into segments where you don’t have to get in and out of the car as much. Perhaps it means driving a little further to a shopping center that has all the stores you need, or online shopping for one item and in-person shopping for the convinent ones. For me, it meant frequenting a certain out-of-the-way store on my way home from work instead of the weekends, which saved everyone time and energy on those weekends!
As for time, get out of the house as early as possible when everyone is ready and raring to go! If you’re still in a napping household, that means that you might even be done and home just in time for a snooze break for everyone! Avoid running errands during the heat of the day or around meal times, as the requests for treats and snacks will be more urgent and frequent.
Make your child the taskmaster
Share the responsibility of the errands with your toddlers and older children by detailing what needs to get done at each location. At the grocery store, give them the list and then read and have the kids recite what you’re going to get. Ask them for directions to the next item, or how many you need. My daughter has gotten so good at this that she even reminds me to get things that I even forgot to put on the list! Play dumb and ask them what needs to be done in each location, and even have them interact and ask questions of the employees. Chances are that the experience will be much better if everyone feels invested in the task!
Have a conversation with your kid(s) or yourself!
Your child loves being the center of your universe, so why not take this time to make them exactly that! So use a trick from your pre-kid days that always made errands much more pleasant: bring a friend along! From the beginning of the car trip or walk, through the stores and back again, carry on a long chat with your kid(s) about anything and everything! Tell them a story from your week, or from your youth, and ask them to do the same! And if you’ve got a baby or a toddler, just carry on a conversation with yourself! It’ll keep you entertained, and your child will be mesmorized with your eye contact and conversation.
Carry distractions at all times or create them on the fly!
Patience can begin to wear thing with a child who is tired of their current surroundings, so if all else fails, then pull out the distractions! If you’re still carrying a diaper bag, make sure that you tote along some plastic rings, a soft toy, or any other favorite toy that will distract them from your task at hand. For the older crowd, carry a small purse pack with some alphabet or animal or spelling flashcards or a few crayons and blank notecards. Make sure it’s something that they really enjoy, or else you might end up with a bigger firestorm on your hands!
Have a reward in mind
It doesn’t have to happen every time you successfully navigate the grocery store with your kid(s), but try to have rewards and incentives tucked away in your mind to share your appreciation for their cooperation and good behavior while you were getting errands done. Perhaps it’s going out to lunch at the end of the trip, or a ice pop at home, or maybe even picking out a treat at the store? The memories of happiness from everyone enjoying that reward (including you mom!) will live long past any memories of picking up dry cleaning and buying broccoli.
This article is sponsored by Clorox.