Our kids are pretty smart, Urban Dads have to be smart too. When I need to do a list of mundane things, I try to make errands fun and plan some of it out like an adventure. I get my daughter invested in it all by asking her some questions beforehand and then checking with her later to ensure she’s still on board the adventure (which includes things like grocery shopping, going to the bank, etc.)
Make Errands Fun to Make Them Easier with Kids
Generally, when I have more than a single stop to make, I will throw in a library run. This helps make errands fun for my daughter. Before we go anywhere I set up the situation by telling her that we have to go do some things so we need to start thinking about them. Inevitably, she asks what it is that we need to do. A great example is the grocery store, because usually I’ve got to go and get food for her. It usually goes something like this.
ME: Alright, we need to go to the grocery store, but I don’t know what we need. What do we need?
ME: Yes, but what kind of food do we need?
HER: I don’t know.
ME: Let’s look in the fridge and make a list.
Make Errands Fun by Including Kids in Decisions
At this point she will go and open the fridge door for me. Helping is something that she loves to do and it really helps make errands fun for her. I often tell her that she’s a great helper and I couldn’t have done something without her help. This type of positive reinforcement not only makes her happy, but reinforces the fact that helping others is a good thing.
Once we the fridge open, I will often ask her what we are missing. This prompts her to tell me all the things in the fridge that she likes to eat but doesn’t see. Sometimes it takes a little prodding but we get through it ease when I say things like “Do we need juice? Do we need berries? What kind of berries do we need?”
Make Errands Fun for Everyone
Sometimes I already know that I need tortilla chips or crackers, but I ask her anyway. “Hey kiddo, have we got any Donkey Chips (a great brand of chips that have no trans fats, no cholesterol and just 4 ingredients). When we get to the chip aisle at the grocery store she’s usually yelling “Donkey Chips!” which makes me laugh to no end, along with anyone shopping nearby. I didn’t say I was only going to make errands fun for her, it ends up being loads of fun for me too.
NOTE: I’m not a total anti-GMO guy because I have a degree in Biotechnology. I also know that humans have been genetically altering food in one way or another for thousands of years. But that’s a discussion for another time (unless you want to discuss in comments!).
Make Errands Fun by Including a Stop for the Kids
Often I will combine a couple different boring errands together to make a fun errand adventure. Commonly, that includes laundry at the laundromat, grocery shopping, and a couple stops for her which are usually the library, and the park. Living in the Midwest means there are lots of days where it’s far too cold to go to the park. Luckily, the library is almost as good. The kid’s area of the libraries around here either have toys and play areas, or have so many books and DVDs to look at that she can get totally wrapped up in them. I also include her in the returning of books and DVDs, and checking things out of the library. Not only does it keep her entertained, it will prove to be a very valuable skill as she gets older.
Right now she’s starting to read so we go and get 5-10 books, that we’ll read 2-3 times over the next 36 hours. We also grab a few DVDs. I try to keep them educational. Luckily, she really loves Daniel Tiger and Dora the Explorer. I also like them as I will discuss the lessons in them after each episode. This helps her absorb the meaning of each episode and is helping her become an awesome human (research to prove it).
Make Errands Fun Every Time
Errands are a part of life and kids generally can’t be worked around. To make errands fun for them includes them and helps keep them engaged in the tasks at hand. I try to play some games, or point out things I think my daughter will like. For example, at one grocer there are pinatas and we cruise past them a couple times and I ask what animals they are, what color they are etc. At another there is a big display of balloons so we will stop and count them.
Doing these simple things allows parents to get the things done they need to and lets them do it with their kids for some extra quality time. When I make errands fun, not only does she feel good that we accomplished some things, but so do I. And, I get to spend time interacting with her, teaching her new things, and generally having fun. It makes for both an efficient use of time, and a great time with my kid.