Many busy moms like to run errands without their kids, but I prefer to have mine with me for several reasons.
1) Grocery store parking lots are the most unsafe places for women. This is where a majority of predators hang out looking for their next target. You must be on extra alert if shopping alone. Scan the parking lot, cars, and people before you get out of your car, before you get into your car, and lock the doors immediately.
2) It teaches children that we do things together in our home. There is not much that I do without my kids. It is not because I can’t; it is because I don’t want to. While our family situation may be different than many, it is a great way for us to spend time together. Time with our kids is beyond precious. Every moment. One moment may be more precious than another, but if your goal is to live a life full of joy, you will want to FIND the joy in ALL situations. By doing more and more together, good and bad, I hope that I am teaching my children that we are a family, through the good and bad and that we should always sacrifice for each other.
3) It gives them opportunity to obey. My rules are the same whether we are in public or at home, but while we are in public, the kids like to test those limits. There have been a few times, I have had to completely stop what I’m doing and take them to the bathroom and spank them and put them in time out until they can behave. I choose not to spank out in front of everyone, but in a more private setting, as to not embarrass them. This has always worked very well for me in training my children to obey in public.
How to Entertain Your Kids While Running Errands
Make sure they are well rested
Every child is different and so is their schedule. Make sure that you are running errands during their best time. This may be early in the morning or right after their afternoon nap, depending on your child. Pick the best time of the day to do your running around for a more successful journey. It is a great idea to make sure and feed them first too. If they are hungry or thirsty they will be more apt to act out and become frustrated and the long wait times. Five minutes to us is like an hour to them.
Include them in the activities
Whether you are running through the drive through at the bank or running to the grocery store, invite your kids to be your helper and give them a job. They can make their own grocery shopping list or let them mark items off yours. My kids are very involved in our family’s grocery shopping. I ask them BEFORE we go to the store, if there’s anything they might like at the store. I can decide while making the list, whether it’s a yes or a no and whatever is NOT on the list, they do NOT get unless it’s a sale and I offer.
That rule is the same for me. I stick to a list, so should they. If they want yogurt or cheese and crackers, that is fine. I can let them have a say in what we get, but inside the store, there is no asking for anything, or they may not have anything they put on the list. That is our rule. I have put things back before, but honestly, it only took doing that once and the biggest fit thrown ever to learn that she couldn’t break that rule, and her brother seeing that, hasn’t tried it thus far. My kids know that I am giving toward them, but at the same time, I am trying to instill in them that they cannot take advantage of that grace shown.
Let them bring one toy each
If I know we will be running several errands, I let the kids bring one toy each. They may not bring it in the store, but in the car rides, they may play with their toys. If a child is bad in the store, their toy is taken away until the next store.
Get Creative: Make it fun
Every kid loves to have a sing-a-long with mom or dad so why not pipe up and sing a few songs in the car. In the stores, you can play games. As you shop, find and name any ingredient that starts with the first letter of your family’s last name….or their first name.
Get them involved
When you are deciding between brands of hot dogs, let them tell you which hot dogs package to pick and ask them why they chose that one. Teach them to look for the quality brands and then price, or however your family decides in particular. Teaching them about things like prices, will help them understand, even at a small age, that we must be mindful of our choices. When we choose the most frugal choice over here, we can have more of what we want over there.
Mimic your errands
Let’s say one of the errands was sitting and waiting while the mechanic changes the oil in your car. Have them look through the window at the mechanics and see how they put the car into the air, woosh, then how they adjust the tires, change the oil, check for leaks, etc. Once you get home, make a game out of what you saw. Let you kids play auto mechanic (be sure to put the emergency break on the car if kids are playing around cars; be completely safe, perhaps you could even use a cardboard box, make paper plates into tires, etc.)
Treat yourself and your child when you are done running errands
When you are first teaching them how to behave in the stores, I would use this method more often, and then start tapering off. We are at the point now where it is rare they get a special treat for shopping with me when they are good. It is expected of them, however, on occasion, I will treat them to something special out of the blue, so THEY don’t always expect it.
While you are first teaching them, let them know while you are running errands, that you are going to get something special together when you are done. Don’t threaten them the whole time you are running errands that if they are not good, they will not get whatever you decided on. We don’t want to have to nag them. Instead use positive praise to get them through and then make sure you do what you promised.