It can be quite stressful to bring a child with you when you do errands. He gets bored, throws a tantrum, and soon a relatively simple task of buying groceries or picking up the dry cleaning can be tiring and frustrating.
However, with a little imagination (and the parenting skills and parenting tips you will find below) the errands can be just as fun and educational as a field trip. Read on.
Give an itinerary
Children thrive on routines and familiarity, so give him an idea of what to expect from the day: ‘First we drop off the dry cleaning, then we go to the supermarket, and then we can drive through McDonald’s for a nice treat.’
Sing and read on the road
Even adults get restless in traffic, so you can understand what your child feels in the car. He gets bored and restless even before you reach the supermarket, so you can imagine what will happen in the aisles. Prevent this from happening by making the ride as light and entertaining as possible. Load up your iPod with favorite songs and then sing along. Or play games like counting the trees or stop signs, or racing to see who can spot the first red car (or blue….or yellow) on the way. You can also build up on reading skills by pointing out common traffic signs. ‘S-T-O-P means stop. Can you find the next STOP sign?’
Get kids involved in the supermarket
Ask your child to help you find the items you need on your shopping list. And let him pick the produce and help you weigh them. This can be a great way to teach Math: ‘Let’s count 6 apples.’ Or, ‘I need two apples and 3 oranges. How many fruits do we have?’
You can also treat the entire supermarket trip as a ‘Find Me’ game. ‘Can you find the milk in the aisle? Can you point the ketchup to me?’ Or turn it into ‘I Spy.’ Give little clues that teach colors or shapes. ‘I spy something square and blue.’ Or ‘I spy something round that tastes good with milk!’
Make the wait worthwhile
If you’re sitting in the doctor’s office or waiting in line at the bank, entertain your child with simple games. You can bring a measuring tape and have him get the length of magazines, tables or books. Or start a story chain: you start a story, then he adds the next sentence. ‘Once upon a time there was a pirate,’ you can say. Then he adds whatever he likes: ‘And the pirate had a pet tiger!’
photo from babble.com