Tips for Running Errands with Kids

From Parents Magazine

Taking a toddler or two on the go can feel like herding cats: nobody’s interested in going where you want them to go. Not when there’s an orange ball in those bushes and ice cream in that store. 

But you can’t just stay home until your kids start school! How do you run errands with toddlers in tow? Here’s how to get everything done without anyone freaking out.

Timing is everything.

Do you really have to take your cranky toddler to the supermarket just before nap time, or can it wait until she’s refreshed? Think about it from your toddler’s perspective: it’s hard enough not having any say in what you do or where you go, but getting dragged to the furniture store at 1 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon—most grown-ups don’t even want to do that.

Shop online.

It might be worth the price of shipping to order certain things online if it means you can avoid a round of errands. Bonus: some grocery stores and pharmacies deliver, allowing you to keep your sick or fussy child at home.

Front-load the important stops.

A toddler’s mood can change fast, so you need to be prepared. Prioritize the errands that can’t wait until another day, and do those first. You don’t want to do too much doubling back as you zip around town, but the bottom line is that trying to cover too much territory can backfire.

Bring your bag of tricks.

When you’re on the road with your toddler, think of yourself as a magician at a live show. Pack up anything you can use to entertain your toddler while you’re stuck in the waiting area at your ob-gyn’s office or in a long line of traffic 10 miles from home.

Bring a wing mom.

What’s this? A friend who can help watch, entertain or feed your toddler when you’re on the go. The ideal scenario is that this mom has older kids who are well behaved (or, better yet, on a playdate!). But if she also has a toddler, there’s still safety in numbers. You can divide and conquer by taking turns—one of you gets to focus on shopping while the other corrals the kids. Another bonus: you save on gas.

Add a happy stop.

If your toddler knows that you always stop by the playground, or the bakery for a cookie, after his visits to the pediatrician’s office, your trip will go more smoothly. If he understands that you won’t take him there if he misbehaves elsewhere, it’ll go even more swimmingly—but you really do have to skip the park if he doesn’t live up to his end of the bargain.

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