Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Running Errands with Kids

Running errands with kids is simply a reality around here. Rarely am I able to go when my husband is home, and when you homeschool the kids are always with you. I try to keep all the errands to one day. It can make that one day a busy one, but it seems to work better than dragging the kids out on multiple days.

How do I run all my errands with four kids and keep my sanity? Well the reality is that it doesn't always go smoothly, but most of the time it does. Here are a few things we do that help.

Make a plan.
Try to plan your stops by geography so you spend less time running back and forth. Another thing to consider though is priority. If there are stops that must be done today, try to do them first. That way if the three year old is having a continual melt down (not that mine ever would mind you) you can abandon ship and save the less important errands for another day.

Let the kids in on the plan.
After they are strapped into the car, when you have their full attention, let them know what you are doing today. Remind them of the expected behavior, and when possible hold out a little reward. (I'm not above bribery for my sanity.) Our reward is often as simple as a $0.25 can of pop from the vending machine when we are done shopping. It could be to read a story, play a game, or watch a movie when the errands are done. Use whatever works for your kids. Remind them of the plan, expectations and reward as needed.

Food and drink.
Nothing is worse than shopping with hungry kids. Pack lots of snacks and drinks; a lunch if needed.

Let them help.
Give them small tasks to do while you are shopping. My kids love to pick items up and put them into the cart. They really love it when I let them choose which item we are going to buy. The older ones love to push the cart, and can sometimes be talked into playing games with the baby.

Make it educational.
Talk to the kids about why you are choosing items. Show them how to price compare. With younger ones you can practice colors, and counting.

Running errands with kids is an adventure. Make the best of it. Hopefully some of these tips that work for me will help you too. Please leave your ideas too!

Works for Me Wednesday


  1. I soooo agree with letting the kids know their expected beahvior. Mine were getting a little crazy but when I started saying things like, "We are going to the grocery. You have to stay with me and we have to use inside voices. OK?" things got oh so muc better. Sometimes little ones just forget how they need to act in certain situations and a simple reminder is so much easier on everyone than having to discipline later.

  2. *snort* I've often complained to DaHubby that a group of errands that used to take me 30 minutes now take 3 hours! Seriously though, I've wondered if I'm the only one that tries to turn errands into an adventure (for their sanity and mine)! LOL It takes A LOT of pre-planning but it's better than "dragging" the Vikings through their day.

  3. Great tip! I say "Here's the Plan" to the kids so often that the three year old says it to his toys!

  4. great ideas! We have errand day, too. UGGHHHH with 5 boys!

  5. I let the boys hold my list and mark things off as we go. Usually I plan the errands for when Jason is home or Mom keeps at least one. Being stressed out just ruins the whole day!

  6. Great ideas! So many of these are things that I already do, but it is great to read them and be reminded that it is these little things that allow me to get stuff done. Thanks!

  7. Great idea.

    But I choose the easy way.
    Have dad contribute to the family and do the groceries.

    We have no car, so a trip to the store with 6 little children didn't pay off at all anyway.

  8. These are great ideas! I am including this post in next week's Carnival of Family Life (I am hosting).

  9. I couldn't agree more about preparing your kids for the day's events. Imagine if you were strapped into an airplane, and nobody told you whether you were off to Hawaii for a beach vacation, Iowa for some farm work, or New York for a business meeting. You certainly would prepare differently for each of those, and our kids are no different. Filling them in ahead of time gets their brains & bodies prepared for high energy activities, quiet activities, or whatever! Thanks for your post. I liked it!

  10. I try to spread out the errands, instead. Rather than setting out to do 5 things, I'll take care of something on the way home from violin or after church or on the way to ballet, etc. when we're going out anyway.

    I found a huge difference in my experience as soon as my younger child turned 3. Somehow, everything got magically easier. Now I actually look forward to errands sometimes.

    But I do bribe with ice cream. So my opinion is completely suspect. Hehehe.