Dirty Faces and Errand Survival

Written by Emily

I have to admit; I judged mothers who took their children out in public with gunk all over their faces, remnants of lunch or candy or far worse–their latest illness. And then I became a mother.

I just took my child out of the house looking like this:

Ok. Not quite that bad but close.

After several minutes in one of those bulk order places, I looked at my daughter for the first time all day it appeared because she was sporting a chocolate goatee and mustache (see the picture above). As if the filth were not enough, it was chocolate. Strike two for this Mom.

Before you call child services for my negligence, I did create a nifty scavenger hunt of sorts for our adventure in the store. I’ve learned that trips to stores (and if you ask my son, we practically live in stores of one kind or another) must come with some kind of entertainment, and I’d rather they not have their eyes glued to a screen–iPad, iPhone, iAnything.

My mother warned me that I would be disappointed with the results, but I powered through nonetheless, and, much to my surprise, the kids liked it. And they’re too little to humor me.

If you find yourself in a position where you have to take your children to the grocery store, a little game like this might just save your life (or your children’s). And this is no new invention, I know it. But when I was a teacher, I loved sharing and stealing ideas that worked. Feel free to steal the questions I wrote on flashy index cards for my kids to choose as we wandered the aisles:

  • Find something green in the vegetable aisle. What is it? Act like an animal that might eat this vegetable.
  • Find something that rhymes with pan. What is it? Pretend you’re a chef and show us how you’ll use it.
  • In the freezer section, waddle like a penguin. Now circle the cart like a polar bear hunting for food.
  • Point to a healthy food. Do three jumping jacks.
  • Find a label with the letter ____________. Sound out the word. Give Mommy a high five.
  • Find something shaped like a rectangle. What is it?
  • Sort the items in the cart by color.
  • Sort the items in the cart by size.
  • In the dairy section, act like a cow. Now pretend to churn butter.
  • Look at the prices. Find the number 5. Jump up and down five times.

I know this will not make me go down in history as the world’s greatest mom (see aforementioned dirty faces), but the kids dissolved into giggles instead of tears, the jumping around was controlled, and the growls were animal sounds coming from the children and not me. Win. Win. Win.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to survive errands with your precious babes? I’d love to hear them! Really. Please share. So I can steal!

4 comments for “Dirty Faces and Errand Survival

  1. Kathleen Gallo
    September 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    You are always SO CREATIVE! I was not, sadly for my children!
    I just soldiered on & they had to go along. Ask DJ about VF and the “fun” of hiding under the clothing racks because of being bored w/”shopping” ( >:)

    • September 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Oh! We’ve been there. Noah and Chloe love to play hide-and-seek at Joann Fabric. It just causes mild heart attacks when I can’t find them! Honestly, it’s just survival. Most of the time they have to grin and bear it for the good of the group 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments!

    • September 26, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      Oh Em, you are so creative and patient! When I take the kids to the store, it’s all business. Let’s get the job done and get out is my motto! I don’t even know if I’d have the patience for all this play, while I’m trying to check off the items on my list! Maybe, when Eljay’s a little older, I’ll give it a try. For now, I strap him in and give him a snack and a book! That seems to do the trick for me, most days. In emergencies, though…there’s always Elmo!! 😉

  2. Molar Mother
    September 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Supernanny would be proud! She always recommends giving kids tasks at the store. “Junior, go to the deli and get us a pound of thinly sliced turkey.”

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