I don’t care if you have one baby, two toddlers or three little hellraisers, going anywhere with kids can be a stressful experience.
Since my youngest learned to walk it’s become increasingly difficult to keep the peace when we’re out and about, whether it be at the playground or a quick trip to the supermarket.
For me the most stressful elements of taking my two children out in public are: The potential for tantrums, the sibling squabbling and keeping them safe.
I’ve gradually been learning ways to make the entire experience less stressful, and it’s mainly being prepared for any eventuality and mood so that I can head off tantrums before they start.
Here are my top tips for keeping cool when running errands with kids:
1. Pack your bag wisely
Think about where you’re going and what distractions will work. At a restaurant or cafe you’ll want sticker books, colouring books, pens and puzzles.
At a playground you might want to bring your toddler’s scooter. My youngest recently got a toy buggy and she is completely obsessed with it, so I’ll be bringing it with us next time we go on a picnic or something similar that involves being in the same place for a certain length of time.
If you’re dragging your kids from shop to shop, then let them take a favourite soft toy.
Don’t forget to bring every snack and drink that could possibly be demanded during your trip out too.
2. Bring two of everything
If you have more than one child, you need to give them exactly the same cup, toy, snack etc.
One of the biggest fallouts we have these days is when one child has something that they other doesn’t.
3. Don’t try and do too much
I’ve got a list of things I want to get done around the house as long as my arm.
This means that most days I want to nip to the DIY shop, then browse Next and Marks, and maybe get something for dinner on the way home.
The problem is that with each successive shop I visit, the kids tend to get more unruly.
I find the trick is to estimate how long you will be in each place you plan to visit and think about your own child’s limit. I tend to limit us to two shops maximum (we generally drive to out of town outlets and centres) during a trip out, as otherwise the girls just get bored and I get stressed out.
4. Take reinforcements
All trips out are infinitely easier when my husband is with us, because we can divide and conquer.
If you can find a friend or family member to come along with you and help out, you’ll be able to get a lot more done.
5. Figure out how to make it fun
When it comes to the supermarket, I know that if I let the girls ride in the trolley together they will be more than happy to let me trot all around the shop getting what I need.
Other times I resort to good old fashioned bribery by offering them a comic book or one of those ridiculously overpriced eggs that contain a cheap plastic toy and some disappointing sweets.
6. Tune it out
You can of course do all of the above and just get stuck with a bad day when nothing you do will stop the tantrums.
If you have things to get done, or you’re attempting to extract multiple children from a playground, try to just close your ears to the noise.
I know it’s easier said than done, but if you can get your reaction to crying and shouting under control, then you’ll take 50 per cent of the stress out of the situation.
7. Make a joke
Getting stressed out with your children’s behaviour or struggling to contain a tantrum can be embarrassing, especially if the people around you don’t look amused.
If your child is throwing an epic paddy in the middle of the dairy aisle, why not just laugh it off. Kids are kids. I don’t care what anyone says about “in my day children were seen and not heard,” children are the same the world over. Toddlers throw tantrums, this is not a new thing for our generation, it’s been happening for hundreds of years!
So if your child has gone beyond the point of no return then try to laugh it off with a casual joke, and remember: “Let she whose child never behaves like a little shit cast the first stone.”
I hope you found these tips useful. Have you found anything that works to keep your kids entertained while out and about?