Errands: all parents have a list of them to get done. But they can become a total hassle when you have to bring the kids along. Some children may be fine with it, while others view the experience as torture and see fit complain the whole time. Just like that, a list of three or four things turns into a four-hour migraine. Here are some great tips on how to keep the little ones occupied!

1. When going to the grocery store

Give your child a list of reachable and easily found items to get. This will have them searching instead of complaining; it’s a lot like playing I Spy, but better! It will also teach them a little bit about buying groceries and what things cost.

2. Snacks

Pack a snack and some water for when the kids start to complain about hunger. It always happens. Snacks will distract them from things they may think they just have to have. Parents.com has a great list of 25 healthy snacks for kids which are great for transit.

3. No complaining -- for you or the kids

It’s important to put on a brave face. If the kids see that you aren’t having fun, they will mimic your tone. Have fun with it, laugh with the kids and give them a chance to play. Make funny faces in the dressing room mirror, play 20 questions in the long line at the bank, and sing along to the songs on the radio in the car. Enjoy the time with your kids as much as you can.

4. Timing is key

Don’t schedule errands after baseball practice or swimming lessons. Tired kids are cranky-bombs waiting to explode. Make sure they’re well fed, rested, and have a toy in hand when you all leave the house. If you absolutely have to get something done when they’re in the danger zone, try giving them something to look forward to like a sweet treat or a board game when they get home.

5. Pencil in a fun stop.

Even at my age, my mom and I always pick a place to stop, eat and recharge when we go out. Sometimes it’s just nice to eat out, so it can be a cheap place. Then when the to-do list gets long you have something to break for--like an intermission for your errands.

How to avoid taking the kids

The best way to fix the problem is to avoid it altogether. Here are some schedule suggestions so you can get out on your own.

  1. Do errands when another parent is already home. If dad makes breakfast for the kids on Saturday morning, mom can get the grocery shopping done. It also gives dad quality time with the kids. Just make sure you’ve got enough groceries at home to make pancakes!

  2. Schedule play dates with other kids and switch off houses so that you and another mom can get some errands done while the kids have fun! Now that’s the best of both worlds.

  3. Need to hit the gym? Pick a gym with a daycare. Kids love the time to play and it will be easier than trying to schedule a babysitter if you go more than once a week. Plus there’ll be no excuse for not going!

  4. Let your significant other help. One thing I always see my mom doing (and I am doing more and more) is doing it all herself. You may think that if you don’t do it yourself, it won’t be done right, which can be true. But if you need to pick up a prescription or a loaf of bread, don’t be afraid to ask. If he or she gets the wrong brand that week, so be it. It’s better than dragging all the kids to the store and back for one stinkin’ loaf, am I right? And who knows! He or she may just get it right. Remember, there’s a reason you’re with them.

Errands should not have to be a huge stressor in your life. But whether you choose to take the kids or not, these tips should make things a little easier for you!

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