Before you became a parent, you probably could make a grocery run in no time flat, or cram a morning’s worth of errands into an hour. Whenever you needed more milk or eggs, you could grab some – no biggie. But the days of doing errands with ease are long gone. You run through your household staples faster than ever, but even dashing out to the nearest convenience store is an ordeal that takes at least half an hour. And a grocery run could easily eat up the whole morning.
It doesn’t matter whether you have an only child or multiples – there’s no such thing as a “quick” errand anymore. The good news is, a few tweaks to your routine can get you a little closer to the days when you did errands with ease. Give these a try, and see if they help.
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Errands With Ease With Your Kids
Use a body carrier
Despite the fact that modern strollers are easy to pop open with a few fingers, doing so in the cold is not fun. Nor is trying to maneuver them through stores, let alone ice and snow and slush. And while they’re great for walks through the neighborhood, they’re not so great once you get to the corner convenience store, whose layout just is not stroller-friendly most of the time,
That’s why it’s well worth investing in a baby carrier to set aside for quick trips. If you’re just setting out on foot to grab more milk, having a body-carrier is ideal. But even for car errands, they can make your shopping trips much more efficient. Not having to lug that heavy carseat into and out of shopping carts is a blessing.
You have to be careful NOT to trip and fall when using a body carrier while running errands, as I once did when wearing Essie. (Not good.) And they’re also not ideal for walking errands when it’s super-hot or super-cold.
But my ring sling was a staple of doing errands with both girls when Kimmie was a toddler and Essie was a newborn. I’d put Kimmie into the seat of the shopping cart, then get Essie into the sling and head into the store. I remember all the admiring looks I got. People often commented on what a fabulous invention my body carrier was, for enabling me to manage both children easily.
Travel faster with older kids
I had no problem managing one preschooler, but when I had both the girls with me, errands with ease was a contradiction in terms. If you thought babies took time, try traveling with older kids. Toddlers and preschoolers can get distracted, dawdle, or just plain refuse to walk. All these downsides can add unnecessary time to your trips. Hence why you need to find faster alternatives.
If you’re just attempting a quick walk to the store with your kids, consider something like the electric scooters reviewed by ScooterAdviser. Otherwise, it may be time for some tough love.
If your kids refuse to behave at the store, start with this basic checklist: Are they tired, hungry, or bored? Time your errands for when these are NOT the case, and bring appropriate diversions with you. (I have been known to bring snack cups and water bottles on leashes into stores with me, along with a few toys, so as to eliminate many sources of whining at their origin.)
Assuming you’ve met these needs, you need to let your kids know ahead of time the sort of behavior you expect out in public – quiet, non-disruptive, and certainly not whining begging for something every two seconds. Tell them clearly that if they can behave properly, they will get X reward when they get home (time to do whatever they want, a special treat, their favorite game, whatever). If they refuse, you need to be ready to leave the store – and then follow through. This includes NOT giving them the promised treat.
Make a game out of it
If you as the parent squirm at the thought of tough love, then you need some creative rethinking of your whole approach to a day of errands. Besides eliminating the roadblocks outlined above, you need to find an effective way to reframe the task at hand into something more “fun” for kids (and you!).
I’ll never forget the day after Kimmie threw up at 9:30 in the morning at school. Preschool started at 9am, and the school strictly enforced the rule that you couldn’t return to school until at least 24 hours after throwing up. So I was stuck for the morning with a no-longer-sick pre-K student and an errand list a mile long. And even worse, I had things to accomplish during the girls’ morning at school that I could NOT put off any longer.
So once we dropped Essie off at preschool, I told Kimmie about our great adventure: She was going to get a SNEAK PEEK into what Mama sometimes did while the girls were in school – “running around doing errands.”
I followed through on that promise. When we could safely do so, I ran through the store aisles with my shopping cart, or wove the cart back and forth like a crazy driver. She felt so special for her “secret” inside peek, and squealed with laughter as we zipped through the aisles. What had been a morning of chores that even I dreaded, turned into a morning of mother-daughter bonding fun.
What’s your favorite hack for motivating little people through a day of errands with ease? Let us know in the comments!
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