How to Run Errands with Kids and Stay Sane

I am pretty fortunate that 3 days a week, my kids are in school. At the same time. Which means I can run errands, do stuff around the house, and work in peace and quiet. But there are times when I have to run errands with one or, worse, both of the kids.

We’ve all been there when that quick trip to Target ends up in tears from both you and your child. They are screaming or whining or fighting with you the entire trip. If you’re lucky, you make it out of the store without your kid throwing himself on the floor of the grocery store.

As they are screaming and kicking and crying, you start thinking to yourself:

What is wrong with them?

Why can’t he just behave for 15 minutes?

What am I doing wrong?

You start questioning your parenting abilites and think about what you could be doing differently. And to think, this all started because you just wanted to grab what you needed for dinner!

How to Run Errands with Kids and Stay Sane

Mother with baby shopping in supermarket

Know your child’s limits. It’s so tempting to run errands after you pick your kids up from preschool, but that’s not always the best time. They may be tired, hungry, or just plain don’t want to go. Before you set yourself up for failure, make sure you are picking a good time to take them out. Go after lunch. After a nap.

Know your own limits. Just like your child has limits, so do you. When we are tired, hungry, stressed, and not at 100%, it may be best to skip the errands. You’ll only end up more tired, hungrier, and a lot more stressed! The errands can wait.

Get them involved. Just because they are a toddler, doesn’t mean they can’t help! Get them started young. Have them help you pick out snacks at the grocery store. Or they can hold your list and coupons. If there isn’t anything they can do to help, talk to them! Point out what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you are going to be doing next.

Combine your errands with fun stuff. If I want to hit the coffee shop before running errands with the kids, I skip the drive thru. Hear me out. I plan an extra 15 minutes in our errand running to sit down and plan our trip. I get my coffee, they get a pre-shopping treat. Or we’ll have a treat after our shopping done! Swinging by the local park or library is a great way to reward them for good behavior while running errands.

Running errands with kids can be challenge. But it can be done! A little planning goes a long way and helps you stay sane during the process!

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  1. These are great tips! This is such a huge thing for me right now. With a 10 month old and a very feisty 4 year old, trips out have become increasingly frustrating at times. On the up-side, I do end up with some good stories to tell my husband when he gets home!

  2. Knowing both your limits and your child’s is a big one. We do errands as soon as breakfast is over or eat breakfast in the car as that gets us home for some play time before lunch. This works best for both my daughter and me. Later in the day is a lot tough on both of us.

    I like the idea of sitting down together instead of a drive thru. I’m going to try that one!

    (visiting from the Little R & R link-up)

  3. Thanks so much for sharing these! I tend to run errands with my daughter after her breakfast (so she’s not so hungry) and usually have a snack during said errand to buy a bit more time and tolerance on her part. It works fairly well, but like you said: knowing limits (for my own and hers) are sound advice.

  4. Great points. Oh, yes, I usually dread taking my kids on errands! There are 5 of them, so I usually try to plan things out so they don’t all have to go, but sometimes it is unavoidable. I agree that planning ahead and taking into account everyone’s limits is crucial. Figuring out how to involve each one with their strengths helps too, though it can be tricky to “call it well”. When everything fails anyway, dig deep, put on a smile and give everyone grace.

  5. Great tips! I do everything in my power to run errands without kids, but if I have I try to just take 1 or 2. You throw in that 3rd child and its a 3 ring circus with me losing my sanity.

  6. Great tips! Featured as a favorite on this upcoming Mom 2 Mom Monday Linkup. Thanks for joining!

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