Running errands sucks. Errands are the shopping we don’t want to do but we have to because we need stuff, like food. I try to run errands when my kids are in school but that’s not always feasible. Sometimes I have to bring them with me. That can make running errands more fun, but it also makes it harder.
Over the years, I have learned some things that help—and maybe they will help you too:
1. Let your kids know the game plan: I like to tell my kids ahead of time where we’re going and whether or not it has anything to do with them. “We are going to the mall, three different stores. These stores have nothing for you. We may have time to go to a store that you like, but I can’t make any promises. I also can’t make any promises that you’re getting anything. I don’t get something every time either, it’s a cruel world.
2. Bathroom first. If you forgot to have your kid use the bathroom before you left, that needs to be addressed as soon as you reach your destination. Trust me, get that s**t over with. (Aware of the pun.) If your kid says he doesn’t have to go—go anyway. I can’t say he won’t have to go again, but I just cut your chances in half and any parent out there will tell you, that’s something. There is nothing more annoying than having to stop everything so you can find a bathroom. Plus, kids always have to go “RIGHT NOW,” and the bathroom is always, always far.
3. Bring reinforcements: Safety first! Bring a snack, something to drink, and Kleenex. Your kids WILL bug you for food, and Kleenex is good to have because it just is. Kids spill, they sneeze, they get into stuff…just bring Kleenex.
4. Help them make choices: Stores are stimulating. They’re stimulating for me, I can’t even imagine what they do to an actual child. If we go to a store that has sweet treats (yes), I give my kids a list of things they can choose from. It gives them ownership but it’s also a time saver because who has time to be in a store all day arguing over freaking gummy worms? Not me. And if they try to negotiate the list of suggestions, just ask them if they want “NOTHING,” because that just got added to the list.
5. Give them a progress report. If your kids are sticking to the program (YOUR program) with minimal aggravation, praise them. You can even tell them what they might get if they continue to be good. If they aren’t being so great, regroup, review and let them know what they will lose if they don’t stop making you psycho.
6. Give them a budget: If we go to a store that has things my kids want (every store) and I’m feeling generous, I will give them a budget. “You get X amount of money, buy whatever you want, but that’s your budget. Leave me alone.” Whether they choose to blow it all at once or wait to use it another time—that’s up to them. Either way, a budget helps them learn how to manage their money, and also it frees you up from having to say “No” every 2 seconds as they beg and plead for every stupid thing they see.
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