Monday, May 6, 2013

Why it's Important to Take your Kids on Errands

Now I know what you are thinking. Why would I take the children along if I could go alone? It is SO much faster to do things alone, right? Get in the store and get out. Not having a child with you means they won't be there to ask for something.

Believe me, I do get that. I remember the looks I used to get as I pushed my double stroller and dragged a shopping cart behind me. There were times I was asked incessantly for something. But I learned from the experiences that it pays to engage my kiddos. They would have to learn to run their own errands too.

So we invented games. One of our favorites to play while food shopping was "Name that Veggie!" I would hold up an item and the little ones happily called out "Carrot!"  "Fennel!" and even the obscure "Rutabaga!" We got some looks for that too. Looks of surprise and smiles from other shoppers. In fact, for those of you with little ones still, may I recommend the INCREDIBLE book, Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. 

I would have taken pictures of my own copies (yes, we have two copies!) but they are seriously well loved!

Lois Ehlert makes the most incredible images in her books using collage. We brought this book with us so many times to the grocery store and the kids would look through the book and we'd name the fruits and veggies. I always found if I engaged engaged them in what we were doing, we all had fun. Plus, as a bonus, they tried new foods! 

Aren't they amazing pictures! We have read many Lois Ehlert books. Another favorite is Planting a Rainbow. That's a great one to bring the garden store or to look at seeds or while you are walking around the neighborhood. You can point out all the flowers you find!  Definitely check out some of Ms. Ehlert's books while you are at the bookstore or library!  

There are lots of other things you can do to engage your child. Give them a list with pictures if they are small or have them help you write the list when they are bigger. Or they can check things off as you buy them. Now that they are getting older, my two like to help me by going together to the next aisle over and getting something. They know to stay together and they are within earshot, but they feel very grown up. 

Besides the benefits of having the children see the errands as a family task and not "Mom or Dad's job", there are other pluses. I have great conversations with my kiddos while we are doing a task together. They really open up when we are doing things together. Much less pressure than sitting face to face. 

As they got older, we tried different things. After returning bottles, if they could figure out how much money we would get back from returning a batch, they could keep the money we received back. They loved that! 

I would let them order or pay for things. Little Miss delights in ordering her sliced turkey at the deli counter. She takes her own number and orders while I get my produce. That time invested in teaching the kids to help has paid for itself and it has become a time saver now! 

Well, just yesterday my DH brought MAP to the pet store to get our dear doggies some food. While they were there, inspiration struck! MAP started writing Haiku after Haiku. Luckily, my boy is never without a pad of paper and a pencil. (we keep them in the car in a little bin with a few books that we rotate every few weeks)

I was quite impressed when he brought them home for me to read. Here are a few of my favorites (he wrote 11 while he was there!)

Fifteen birds in a cage
Chirping a cacophony
My, how loud they are

Two tiny sea stars
Clinging strongly to a tank
They are motionless

A lone restless bird
Rocks a ladder back and forth
Quite vigorously

A gerbil dozing
Next to a wheel for spinning
It looks very tired

Young birds in a cage
Lightly feathered, they don't chirp
Oh, they are so cute!

So, next time you have to run an errand, bring along one of your children with you. You never know what can happen. 

Shop On!


  1. Thanks so much for this, Keri! You have some really great suggestions here. I just ordered Eating the Alphabet from amazon and am so excited to get it and read it with my nineteen-month-old daughter. Thanks again! :-)

  2. Thanks Rebecca! I am sure your little daughter will LOVE it! Check out my previous post about author Lauren Child for another great author for little ones.

  3. Oh my goodness. MAP's Haiku is so pretty. He is so talented, just like his mom! ;)