I have fond memories of running errands with my mom before I had a child myself. Now that I am a mom I wonder what it was like for mine bringing me along with her when I was really young. Running errands with my 22-month old daughter has slowly but surely been getting more aggravating in the last year or so. She isn’t a full blown hellraiser (a.k.a problem child), but oh how I look forward to the days when she is a little bit older.

It was pretty easy bringing my daughter along in the first 10 months or so of her life. She was so cute in the buggy (that’s how I call the shopping cart) with her little legs dangling and her eyes ever widening at every new thing she saw.

EIleah at almost 9 months, at the Target Superstore in Tinley Park, IL.

I would get compliments about how well behaved and smiley she was, ah; she was at a level of cuteness akin to the sun, where you could easily have been melted like the wings of Icarus.

When It All Starts To Go Downhill

Eileah is still cute and the coolest child I know, but she’s also sassier and stalwartly self-assured, dare I say dauntless? I would say whenever they get comfortable with walking, that’s when running errands with your little one can become something you dread rather than look forward to.

It’s fun for the first 15-20 minutes at the grocery store or what have you, but eventually the desire to be free sets in and said toddler wriggles herself out of the buggy seatbelt and subsequently will venture to climb into the main part of your shopping cart. She will cry and throw a hissy fit when you struggle to place her securely back in the shopping cart seat for children. And your heart breaks everytime, and your head is ready to explode. And depending on your personality, it can feel very embarrassing.

I want my daughter to be free and I don’t want to have to deny her, but I also want her to be safe and to not destroy things; and I really don’t want us to get banned from a store. The struggle is real.

How I Survive Running Errands With A Toddler

1.Sometimes I Run Errands While My Daughter Takes Her Afternoon Nap

Sometimes a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. If I know a grocery run is going to be a bit of an expedition for her, like if we have a long list one week or if I have to visit more than one store to get everything we need, I wait until Eileah goes down for her afternoon nap. It also helps that my husband and I work from home, so he’s able to take care of her if she wakes up while I’m out running errands.

2.I Always Bring Two Bottles Of Her Favorite Beverage, And Snack

Eileah has been all about chocolate milk. She used to be into regular milk, peach juice, pineapple juice, etc., but sometime at the end of summer and the beginning of autumn she started to reject everything except chocolate milk and water. She’s been slowly coming back around to fruit juices again and I’ve even been putting half regular milk and half chocolate milk in her bottles for a couple months now (she doesn’t seem to notice), but still, when we go shopping I make sure that I bring two bottles of chocolate milk in case she’s extra thirsty and one sippy cup of water with a couple of ice cubes inside. A beverage or snack usually helps to quell Eileah’s crying and wrath.

3.Make Shopping Fun With Singing, Dancing, Being Goofy, & Fast Cart Rides

When that grace period at the beginning of calmness fades and one of Eileah’s favorite libations and snacks fails to content her, I’ll either start singing the lyrics to whatever song is playing in the store or I invent an original song that’s incorporates her like this:

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ Oh Eileah, Eileah, how was I supposed to know… that passion fruit puree was going to be so hard to find? Oh Eileah, Eileah, I think we should let it go, it’s not the way I planned it. ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

I also try to put rhythm to how I drive the shopping cart, and of course I try to make the cart feel like a speed racer at times too. Eileah get’s a kick out of all of this and it manages her rebellion.

4. I Let Her Walk A Little To Explore

It’s a risk, but I do make sure Eileah has a chance to stretch her legs and satisfy that curiosity all young children have. Sticking close at arms length from her I let her explore the shelves of an aisle and whatever mess she makes taking things off the shelf I put back. I let this go for like 3 minutes. Sometimes I do two sessions of this at opposite sides of a store. It makes her feel involved and occupied, that’s really important I think. Just like you wouldn’t want your kid glued to the sofa watching TV all day, you want your kid to recognize moving their body as a reward. Also I think it builds a sense in Eileah that I trust her; I’m thinking this helps develop her self-esteem, but I could be far fetched with that.

5. Don’t Freak Out, But Don’t Not Respond.

Before I was a mom I always felt so bad for any kid I saw getting yelled at by their mom or dad at a store for acting out. I understand why those parents lost their cool better now, but I know I can’t do that. I just pick up Eileah, clean up whatever mess or disorder she made and I hold her tight and kiss her cheeks, then try to wrangle her back in the shopping cart child seat. I tell her things like “No Eileah. No. That wasn’t right. We gotta go. Ok? I love you but no. No more.” Of course I’ll feel anger, frustration, and/or hopeless, but not for long. I look at her face and remember that she doesn’t mean to be a pain and nothing she does is the end of the world. Most people in whatever store you are in will understand that that’s the way kids are and that you are doing the best you can. So don’t freak out, don’t let a moment get the best of you. Some things are just out of your control no matter how hard you try. You’ve just gotta see the humour in these little travails while running your errands.

6.Accept Help

I have at least a handful of great memories of fellow moms and regular citizens being helpful when my hands were full. One of my favorite memories happened around the holidays a few short months ago. The woman at the cash register saw Eileah trying to scan items from the conveyor belt and she said to me “oh no, that’s ok. Here girl, I’ll show you how to do it.” She was showing Eileah how to scan items and I was so grateful. Chaos doesn’t stop at the cash register when you have a young child who is barely 2 years old. Sometimes it’s the worst at the register because they can reach all these things that are closer at hand. But again, you’ve gotta use the tools you have, trust your instincts, and when someone tries to help out by distracting your child, like the person who bags your groceries, accept the help and enjoy the free moment.

It Get’s Better

For the most part my adventures with Eileah running errands are like 70% good and stress free, but like I said at the beginning of this blog post, I relish when she’s a little older. New challenges will come like having to say no when she wants everything she sees for example, but at least I don’t have to deal with days where she needs me to carry her all through the store because otherwise she’d be stepping on all of our groceries for example. I’ll probably miss the mischief of these toddler days, just like I’ll miss every stage of development yet to come. But to the point, if you are having a hard time running errands with your young baby, toddler, what have you right now, it get’s better.


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