Choosing to Run Errands with Little Ones

I get out of the van and head around to help my five youngest children unstrap. It used to be  harder, I used to have five children under five, but now I have big six and seven year old girls to help. I also have ten children now, but I frequently run errands with just the youngest ones.

After years of running errands with a passel of young children in tow, I’m finally at the point where  I am could run errands by myself.  However, I find that I still run most errands with a several young children in tow.

Our family rule is that whoever wishes to run errands with mommy, may run errands with mommy(Think ‘yes’ mom.) and my little ones love a trip to the grocery, returning things to Target or dropping something off at a friend’s

There are several reasons that we’ve decided upon this approach, but  it basically boils down to our priority of relationship.

My goal is not simply to get through a list or to accomplish certain tasks. My goal is to use the opportunities that God has given me to disciple ten eternal souls. I’m best able to accomplish that by slowing down and incorporating them into each aspect of my life, even in the midst of errands.

I enjoy being with my younger children and I’ve found that running errands together gives us more opportunity to talk about little kid things.  I enjoy the extra opportunity of getting into their brains and hearing what’s going on in there little worlds.

It gives my not so young, younger children (the  5-7  crowd and sometimes the 2 -4 crowd) the opportunity to be the ‘big kid’ and help mom with the younger ones.  I’ve watched my mid-range kids shine as they seek to help me by serving their younger siblings.  I’m often surprised at how capable and kind they are when given the opportunity.

Running errands with just the littles also gives me the opportunity to make sure our little ones are well-trained.  This may sound strange to some of you since I’m at home everyday with these little guys, but often the big kids are playing with them and there are lots of fun things to do at our home, so seeing them out when there is not as much entertainment available, when they need to obey immediately, pay attention and not touch everything in sight is a good opportunity for them to shine or show me areas where we need to work.

So for those of you who are always accompanied by  lots of littles and long for the day when you will be able to run errands without strapping and unstrapping half a dozen car seats, consider that perhaps when that day comes you may choose the privilege of  taking them with you, so take a breath and enjoy the blessing of time together now.

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38 Responses to Choosing to Run Errands with Little Ones
  1. Savannah
    May 24, 2011 | 8:02 am

    thanks for this post…sometimes i dread having to go out with all the kids thinking of all the trouble they might get into..but you have a great mindset about it and i needed that reminder!

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  2. Nicole Franks
    May 24, 2011 | 8:13 am

    I love this post! I love the training model errands provide. I love your insight. I only have two little ones, but it is a great prespective. If ever I am annoyed I try to remind myself that there may come a day when you ask if they would like to run an errand, there response may be, “no thanks.” So I cherish the times they are eager to be with mommy on an errand. And therefore, maybe the above mentioned day will never come, because our time together now is so precious??? Thanks for the post!

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  3. Cindy
    May 24, 2011 | 8:19 am

    I love going out with lots of littles! Actually, all of mine are littles right now, so I don’t have a choice. Did you catch my Baby Center post about it? (Shameless self promotion in my info link.)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Loved your post! Thanks for the link.

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  4. Dee
    May 24, 2011 | 8:41 am

    Recent changes in my Hubbies schedule leaves me with our kiddos all the time right now. Stores, bank, library, etc are a package deal. It doesn’t bother me but every stop has an extra 15 min added to it just for getting out back in the van. Hehehe… Must learn to plan my time better. :)

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  5. Heidi Strain
    May 24, 2011 | 9:09 am

    What beautiful, counter-cultural thoughts. I heard recently a woman say we should desire to be with our children 24 hours a day. It really has had me thinking about priorities. It has actually turned into my prayer to have that desire and not be so selfish in what I want to do. Thank you for your encouragment.

    Blessings

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  6. Sheila Gregoire
    May 24, 2011 | 9:14 am

    I used to love running errands with them! It gave us a chance to get out of the house. But you just have to have strategies to deal with their boredom. I wrote a post on how to keep kids entertained in the grocery store. It involves strategies like “looking for groceries that start with the letter B”, or “finding what is yellow”, or whatever is appropriate for their age. It made errands educational and fun. Sometimes kids have tantrums just because we’re expecing too much from them but, as you say, if you keep talking to them and teaching them, they’re far less likely to get bored and throw a fit.

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  7. Nicki
    May 24, 2011 | 9:26 am

    Since I have five kids, and the two oldest are of babysitting age for short periods, I try to alternate one child at a time for errands (and of course, the baby). Each kid likes the chance to go somewhere alone with Mom. And you’re right, it’s a special time. I usually stop and get a drink or a treat for that child to make it extra fun!

    This week my two big girls are gone for four days, so I’m back to being a mom of many small children, and it’s amazing how, even if the girls are doing anything, the house is different because the little ones have someone to play with, talk to, help with drinks, etc. This week, it’s all me!

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  8. Alicia
    May 24, 2011 | 9:28 am

    Thank you so much for this! A little perspective can go a LONG way :) It is a good reminder that I desire to be intentional about mothering/schooling my boys (even though I don’t have 10, lol)! God Bless

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  9. Dawn@OneFaithfulMom
    May 24, 2011 | 11:17 am

    Because I have three who are quite a bit older than the other seven, I have had a lot of help with my littles. SO much so, that I find I actually enjoy doing all the things I did for my first ones! I miss buckling people, helping them out of the car, etc.
    So, I too, try to take little ones with me. Although my youngest is now 4, sniff, he is still little enough to need help.
    My oldest is getting married this coming Sunday afternoon, so I am hoping for grandchidlren to help soon!!!

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  10. Beth@ Acorns and Oaks
    May 24, 2011 | 1:34 pm

    Love this post! I met another mother recently who asked me if I’m ever able to “get away” from my 4. I answered her that it is much easier now since my oldest is almost 12, and that my husband is so helpful. But after our conversation, I realized I should have told her how I really ENJOY being with my kids. I don’t feel like I NEED to have “me” time often. No, it’s not always easy, but I would not rather be anywhere else. Great post, Kimberly!

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  11. Holly
    May 24, 2011 | 2:35 pm

    Yes, yes and yes!! I fully agree with everything in this post!!

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  12. Rachael
    May 24, 2011 | 2:52 pm

    What a great post! I can be guilty of waiting to run errands in the evening when I can go by myself. However I do enjoy taking my kids almost all places EXCEPT the grocery store. We’ll run in for fresh fruit or milk, but I’ve cut our budget by $300 a month just by being focused and intentional while shopping, something I find difficult with my sweet things in the cart with me. So…as long as the grocery budget is tight I’ll take that one as a solo task, but bring the kids along to the post office, to buy toothpaste and I’ve found that my oldest daughter (who’s 5) is actually very fun to take clothes shopping…she even has positive input while I’m bathing suit shopping!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    That input while clothing/bathing suit shopping just gets better and more helpful as they get to their teen years. I don’t like going clothes shopping with out my big girls. ;)

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  13. Jonnie Bernier
    May 24, 2011 | 3:40 pm

    I love this post. Both my husband and I are more than willing to take all six of ours (all 9 and under with us) we enjoy the time together, and I often use errand days, to take the kids to the park- just to let them get out and run around a little. beautiful reminder to enjoy the time we have with our children.

    My husband takes the 4 oldest to work with him often- he has a concrete company, and the children love playing on the dirt hills, and they come home dirty and happy!

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  14. Season
    May 24, 2011 | 4:11 pm

    I was just thinking this same thing! My husband often tells me to just go without littles and he doesn’t quite understand why I want to take a few with me. This describes it perfectly! Thanks for your blog. I recently stumbled on it trying to find tips for laundry. I have 8 children 11 and down and your blog has encouraged me many times since then!

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  15. Gabe
    May 24, 2011 | 4:57 pm

    Great post! This is something we’ve been thinking about since we will soon be coming to the stage when I will have the choice to leave some (or all) of the kids at home. I’ve been having the same thoughts that you wrote out so well!

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  16. Jenny
    May 24, 2011 | 6:02 pm

    AMEN!! I NEVER go anywhere alone & I completely agree with your philosophy!! I have some of my best conversations when “out and about!”

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  17. Michelle
    May 24, 2011 | 7:35 pm

    Awesome. Taking your children to the store…on purpose. What a foreign idea to most mothers. I admit, I am very happy to have my husband tag along and he enjoys it, too.

    I heard a good idea the other day about practicing discipline. The idea was going to the mall with nothing planned and practicing not touching, answering when you are called, etc. I thought this was a great idea. Especially for my two year old son right now.

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  18. Suzanne
    May 24, 2011 | 7:53 pm

    Thank you for this post. I just woke up from my nap with the thoughts of how dreadful my kids (age 10, 8, 6, 5, & 2) behavior was at an appointment today. It was actually great compared to most people’s children but not to my standards. I was just praying for God’s help on what to do about it when I saw your post.

    Thank you for the encouragement that it is worth bringing them to appointments with me. I just need to work on a couple specific areas of training and I’m sure it will go better. : )

    Thanks!
    Suzanne

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  19. Kristen
    May 24, 2011 | 9:48 pm

    With four ages 5 and under, I seriously can’t handle all of them out and about by myself other than a trip to our local library. But I do take at least the baby and one other kid with me when I do my big grocery shopping trips so I can train and spend time with them more one-on-one. And the kids love it when it is “their turn” to go with mom to be the “big” helper!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    What a nice option to only take two of your little ones with you when you run errands.

    I wrote a post with tips on going out with lots of littles.

    It is nice to have the freedom to leave some children at home occasionally, but it is an amazing joy and privilege to be able to spend time with all of your children working together and enjoying each other as you head to the OB’s office, shop for groceries, etc. Those are some of our most fun memories, telling stories and playing games as we waited for the doctor to come into the room. The kids learned a lot by working together as a group and being patient and we always had opportunities to point others to Jesus because so many people would comment about “so many children”.

    Blessings.

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    Kristen Reply:

    Yes, I am very blessed to have a husband with a flexible schedule so I do not always have to take them all with me. I do take all four of them to our small town library, grocery store, etc. But with the youngest two only 15 months apart, I have not figured out how to fit them all in and around the grocery cart, plus food to feed us all…I’m sure I’ll be more adventurous as they get a bit older! :) Thanks for all your tips!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I understand those logistic challenges. When we had 4 children our oldest was 3 and the youngest two were 14 months apart. :)

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  20. Valerie
    May 24, 2011 | 9:52 pm

    Wow. Just when you think a post is going to give you some practical tips about being out with lots of littles, you go and give us some GREAT PERSPECTIVE! This is fabulous! I’m inspired, as usual.

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  21. Nikki
    May 24, 2011 | 11:05 pm

    I have used the opportunity to bond with the little ones when there’s less of them with me. I always use car/van time to teach or review with them social rules, etiquette, safety, courtesy, stranger safety, etc.

    But just now, reading about how it makes the middle kids the big kids was a lightbulb moment for me! How very true this is! I’m certainly going to look at these opportunities differently now.

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  22. Becky
    May 25, 2011 | 12:04 am

    Thank you for this post. It reminds me of when I figured out that if I don’t enjoy being with our kids then I need to re-evaluate my methods. I have fond memories of “lectures” my Mom would give while driving in the car. Once our littles are in regular seat belts, I plan for them to rotate seats so I can interact with each of them better.

    I would be interested in a post with practical advice on how to “use” one’s charming children to begin conversations about Christ. So many people stop to talk to their little smiling faces, but I’m unsure of how to steer the conversation from “They’re so cute!” to “Would you like to study the Bible?” I feel like I am not taking the opportunities being handed to me.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I figured out that if I don’t enjoy being with our kids then I need to re-evaluate my methods

    Well said.

    We most often receive comments like “I’ve never seen such well behaved children”, “Are they ALL yours?” “Are you going to have any more?”

    Perhaps I’ll tackle this question more thoroughly for tomorrow’s post, but here are a couple ideas to get you started.

    A response to “are they all yours”.

    Yes, God is good and has truly blessed our family. Sometimes people just stop there and walk off, sometimes they glibly agree and occasionally you can tell that the response got them thinking.

    True story:
    Years ago when we only had 5-6 children, Mark worked in a store that received daily deliveries from FedEx. One day the delivery man asked Mark why he had so many children. Mark simply replied that he believed that children are a blessing from the Lord and that we will take as many as He will send. End of conversation.

    Months later the FedEx man stopped Mark and told him that he and his wife had been talking and praying about the idea of children as a blessing and had become convinced that this was a true teaching of Scripture. Then he told Mark his wife was pregnant and, “I just wanted to tell you that there will be another child in this world because of you.”

    That couples’ life is forever changed because Mark said that he believed that children are God’s blessing. Don’t underestimate the power of God to use our simple words for His glory.

    Usually these conversations are short (a good thing because we generally get multiple opportunities every time our family is in public, one time literally every single person who came within speaking distance, save one, said something to me about our children.), but sometimes it will lead to a conversation. Short or long, it doesn’t matter because God is the power and He uses all for His glory.

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  23. Susa
    May 25, 2011 | 1:08 pm

    I love your rule of whoever wants to run errands gets to. Thanks for this you have encouraged me to do the same.
    Susan

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  24. Yara
    May 25, 2011 | 2:10 pm

    I only have 3 kids, ages 2, 5, & 8. Most of the time, though, all of us go run errands together. Usually it’s because there is no other choice. If I have to run to the store, there is no one else to stay with the children. Sometimes if my mom or sister can, they stay with the kids (or I drop off the kids at their house). But then again, sometimes all of us go, because it’s just more fun.
    I’m sometimes surprised when a mom will tell me she can’t possibly go to the grocery store with her kids. Why not?
    I always go with my kids. And you know what? My kids have learned how to behave in a store. Yes, sometimes they need to be reminded, but hey! It’s my job to teach them! Now I save grocery shopping for the weekends, or weeknights when my husband is home early, because he likes to go with us. It’s a family activity. We’re all responsible for the food that comes into the house (and sometimes the kids even get ice cream!)
    Sometimes it might be faster for me to go alone, but then, how would my children ever learn?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Excellent point that it’s our job to teach them how to behave.

    Being with our children all day, every day, day after day, as we walk through life (and sometimes the grocery store) is a tremendous motivation to teach them well. :) And when they’ve been well taught they are a joy and delight to be around.

    I feel so terribly sorry for the many men and women who, when they find out that we have 10 children, respond with something to the effect of, “I don’t know how you do it, I can’t manage(stand, handle) the one (two, three) I’ve got.” And I feel even worse for their poor children.

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  25. Amanda M.
    May 25, 2011 | 7:30 pm

    That is a great perspective. I have only one daughter so far, she is about to turn 2. I love showing her places and taking advantage of the learning opportunities, but how do you manage toddler meltdowns? My daughter is usually really great when we go out, but lately she has been getting worse. Do you have any advice for handling public meltdowns?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I posted about how we teach our children behave in public here.

    You may also be interested in reading my series on Your Child’s Heart where I post about one of the goals of parenting, gaining (and keeping) your child’s heart.

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  26. Dare
    May 26, 2011 | 2:48 pm

    I love shopping and doing errands with my kids. On a practical level, however, I think it would be nice if they had a little on/off switch to control their, er, personal needs. I hate public bathrooms!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’d vote with you on that one. Funny thing is that now that I have big kids to help manage a bathroom trip, our little ones NEVER need to go.

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  27. ChristineG
    May 28, 2011 | 10:01 pm

    What a lovely post! Thanks so much. I usually have our little ones stay in the car with the older ones if I am running in and out, but recently, I allowed my 3yo to come into a store with me and he glowed. I definitely need to do this more often. :)

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  28. Michelle
    June 1, 2011 | 6:24 am

    I like your post. Rarely do I arrange my errands so that my little (who is not so little anymore) is not given a choice of accompanying me. Unfortunately now that we are in a position much of the time where she can choose she chooses not to come. And it makes me sad. I miss running errands with her and having “my special helper” read me the list or ask me questions while moving through the store.

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  29. Mellissa
    March 18, 2012 | 1:46 am

    “There are several reasons that we’ve decided upon this approach, but it basically boils down to our priority of relationship.

    My goal is not simply to get through a list or to accomplish certain tasks. My goal is to use the opportunities that God has given me to disciple ten eternal souls. I’m best able to accomplish that by slowing down and incorporating them into each aspect of my life, even in the midst of errands.”

    WOW! Thank you for this

    [Reply]

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