Okay, there you are standing in the checkout line. Your five-year-old is trying to throw the candy bars in the grocery cart while your two-year-old is crying about the cereal that you put back on the shelf on aisle six. At this point you can’t even remember what you came in to the store for in the first place. All you want to do is get home NOW!
If this feels all too personal, then you’re not alone. Moms are frequently caught tooling around town with kids in tow. And it ain’t always a party. As a matter of fact, I know some moms who would rather try to scrape together a meal out of a sleeve of crackers, some chicken boullion, and a can of peas instead of hauling it all the way to the store. But never fear. There are ways around the traveling woes. Check out these five simple tips to make the trips more pleasant, less pain.
1. Pick the right time. Let’s face it: stepping out around dinnertime when the kids are hungry and tired is just a recipe for disaster. When you do travel with your kids make sure that they are not in a needy state. Pick a time when their tummies are full and their spirits are up. Mid-morning is often an ideal time for younger children because the afternoon slump hasn’t taken over and they are still ripe from the bowl of oatmeal that started the day.
2. Pack the goods. If it’s good enough for boys scouts, then it’s good enough for moms—Be Prepared! Always pack your bag with healthy snacks, some favorite books or toys, and, my favorite, a small notebook and some washable markers. This way, even if you’re waiting in line, the kids can still be entertained. You can even use the notebook for some engaging activities such as drawing items in the grocery cart or people you see while you’re waiting in line at the bank (of course, this doesn’t help with the whole, “It’s bad manners to stare” issue).
3. Perk it up. Children absorb your attitude and reflect it right back. If you want them to be cheerful and well-behaved, then you’ve got to rise to the occasion. From the time that you buckle them up in their car seats to the time that you unpack the back of the van, you’ve got to shine! Wear a smile on your face, engage them in conversation during the trip, sing songs together. When you’re miserable, your kids are miserable, so perk it up, Mama!
4. Plan ahead. Are you sick of those last minute dashes to the store? Then stop doing it! When you plan out your shopping trips, you save time, money, and your sanity. In addition to keeping a shopping list on the fridge, keep a meal calendar and a schedule calendar as well. Plan out all of your meals at least a week in advance so you can do all of your shopping at one time. Also, keep your schedule calendar updated so that you can consolidate your errands into one well-orchestrated trip.
5. Prevent the meltdown. When you do find yourself running on your last nerve with miserable kids in tow, remember to stop it short before the whining, crying, or the (gasp!) tantrum occurs. If your child is starting down that path remember that it’s up to you to step up to the plate and save the day (you are a mom, right?). Try out my 1-2-3 tantrum diffuser:
1—Get on their level and look in their eyes. This is an awesome way to get their full attention without threatening or being domineering.
2—Explain their emotions and communicate your understanding. Tell them you know what they want and how they are feeling, and that you would probably feel the same way about the situation. This way they know you do not fault their emotions.
3—Distract them with something positive. Before the negative can escalate any further find something exciting to get their attention. It could be talking about a movie that they have seen or even starting up a quick game of “I Spy.” Just be creative.
So no longer fear that mini-van mania. With some clever planning and some quick thinking, you’ll be ready to hit the road—kiddos and all!