Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Run Errands with Children (and making it count as Homeschooling, too!)

My method for training children to want to run errands is quite simple and takes only an afternoon or two.

The element of surprise combined with Mom's undivided attention.

I took them only one or two at a time at first, so either the nanny or my husband had to be home for this to work since I have four children aged ten and under. {A Grandma or helpful neighbor could help during "training" if you are lucky enough to have either.} Sometimes we were out grocery shopping at 8pm because Dad got home very late from work. Or we were out in the middle of the morning when the nanny could stay home with the sleeping baby. The ones who refused to run errands with me at first got left at home doing chores or whatnot.

My rules:

  • I invite and expect at least one of them to accompany me each and every time I go out to run errands. 
  • I do not create scavenger hunts or pack thematic snacks.
  • I do not promise them ice cream afterwards - or buy them a treat from the store when they ask for one - ever.
  • I do not promise them something fun to do after the errand.

My promises: 

  • They will have 30 to 90 minutes of my (mostly) undivided attention 
  • They can ask me all the crazy questions they want to once I am on the freeway.
  • I will not take cell phone calls while driving so they can talk all they want without being interrupted.

Errands as Homeschooling
{It's carschooling without the clipboards and colored pencils.}

  • Stuck at the dealership for 90 minutes while they diagnose the minivan's sliding door problem? Perfect time to discuss how to properly maintain your car and how to check the tire pressure.
  • Need to go to the bank? Learn all about banking, checking accounts, wire transfers, ATM cards, and college savings accounts.
  • Stand in line with me at the post office? You'll know how to address an envelope and understand why we have zip codes.
  • Drive across town with me to buy our season passes since the park's website hasn't been working all day? You get to go on a few rides near closing time with no waiting.

How long does it take to train kids to *WANT* to go on errands cheerfully and willingly? 

One afternoon, two at the most. Come home with the ones who said yes and don't say a word about what you did.

They will take care of it for you. 

They will quickly learn that when Mom asks "who wants to go run an errand with me?" the correct answer is always Yes.

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