We’re pretty sure running errands with kids doesn’t land on the list of your favorite things. From running through the house double-checking that you have everything you may or may not need to having to buckle and unbuckle car seats and trying to navigate through the store so you miss all the kid distractions, shopping with kids can be a stressful, time-consuming challenge that you may not be feeling up to. But sometimes, you have no babysitter and therefore no choice but to bring the kids along.
Try these tips for errands made easy—and even enjoyable—when doing them with kids.
Running errands will go a lot more smoothly if your kids are fed and rested, so go after they have eaten and after they wake up in the morning or after naptime. If you’re shopping with an infant who sleeps all the time, she may fall asleep in the car no matter how you time it. Keep her asleep by keeping her in her infant car seat and securing it to a grocery shopping cart hammock while you shop for groceries.
Along with working around your children’s schedules, work around yours as well. Many of us parents have the most energy and patience in the mornings. That’s also when stores are less crowded, so you won’t get stressed out trying to deal with your kids and long checkout lines.
Kids want to help, so give yours a few simple jobs. Ask your kids if you should go to the dry cleaners or Target first. Ask your toddler which apples he thinks looks best. Let your 8-year-old be in charge of reading and checking items off the grocery list. Let your child help you scan items in the self-checkout line. Praise your kids for their help and for doing a good job, so that hopefully during your next grocery shopping trip they’re just as excited and helpful.
All work and no play isn’t fun for kids or adults. How do you make running errands fun? You play some shopping games for kids. Here are some game ideas:
If your shopping games aren’t working, pull out a book or let them watch an educational show on your phone while you shop.
You don’t want to spend all day in one store. You don’t want to buy your toddler a toy or treat from every store you visit either. But, it will keep your child happy and make shopping easier if you aren’t telling her “no” in response to everything she asks for. If your child wants to look at toys, tell her she can look for 5 minutes. When she asks for a candy bar in the checkout line, it’s OK to say no. Offer her the granola bar you brought from home instead.
If you’re planning on running more than one errand, we suggest adding a fun break stop in between stores. Whether it’s going to a nearby park for 15 minutes for a little fresh air and playtime or hitting the drive-thru for a quick pick-me-up treat, you and your kids will appreciate a pit stop before venturing into yet another store.
Is your kid tired? Is he hungry? Is your baby overstimulated by all the noises and bright lights in the store? If your kid has had enough, for whatever reason, it’s time to head home. You can always finish your errands later.
Remember, your children love spending time with you. So if you can make a morning of running errands fun and more on their terms, it’ll be an enjoyable and easier time for everyone.