Running errands with the kids in tow isn’t always ideal, especially during the holiday season! The mere thought of navigating through mall crowds with a stroller, reasoning with a screaming toddler in the middle of the grocery aisle or standing in check-out lines with a hungry and restless child can make any parent want to shop online and visit more drive-thrus! Unfortunately, completing tasks from the comfort of your own home or car isn’t always an option.

Here are some tips to help make errand running more peaceful and hassle-free for you all.

Stock the Car – A temper tantrum on the way to the mall can set the mood for the entire trip. Be proactive by keeping a stash of age-appropriate toys and snacks in the glove box and having a CD with kid-friendly music ready to play in case an emergency diversion is required.

Pack Distractions – Bring along a favourite toy and some snacks in your purse for when the kids grow impatient and need some entertainment (pack multiples of the same toys and snacks to avoid arguments among siblings).

Bring Help – Whether it’s your partner, your mom or your friend, another adult to watch and amuse the kids while you run into a store and focus on your task list can help tremendously.

Bring a Stroller – Even if you don’t think you’ll need one, pack a stroller in the trunk of the car anyway. You never know when you might find yourself parking further than usual or in longer-than-expected lineups. Strollers provide a mobile place for little ones to rest their legs, giving you more time and flexibility to complete your task.

Play Games – Take your outing as an opportunity to encourage your kids to learn by playing games. Ask them to point out different colours and shapes and have them care for some purchases by holding them.

Time it Right – If possible, time your errand running for when you know your kids are feeling their best. Right after nap time or lunch when they’re well rested and well fed might be an optimal time to go out. Otherwise, try and avoid errands when they may be too hungry or tired to sit still such as right after daycare, and right before lunch or dinner.

Know Their Limits – Crowds, strange lights and loud sounds can be overwhelming, especially to young kids. If your children become easily distracted or frightened by crowded places, time your errands for when it’s less busy (avoid the mall on a Saturday and go on a Monday instead if possible) and do them in short spurts, even if that means having to spread them out.

Reward Yourself – The occasional treat such as a stop for hot chocolate or walk in the park on the way home can make running errands more enjoyable for you all.

Running errands with toddlers can be a challenge. But if you plan ahead, the experience can be stress-free, efficient and even fun.