I am a dad. And I am an errand-runner.
This isn’t something I spent much brainpower imagining when my wife and I were first dreaming of having kids. The errand work commenced pre-kids actually…there was an errand for a pregnancy test. And errands to take care of late-night cravings. Then, with an infant: errands for diapers, medicine, and to-go dinners. But I’m in the sweet spot of errands now because of the company of my fellow errand-runners…and, also, because Home Depot > Babies “R” Us, which we frequent far, far less as kids’ ages increase.
There’s no question the alluring call of running errands solo is a tempting prospect – and make no mistake, I’ve given in to this frequently – but the best errands are those run with my kids. Errand running gives you a chance to pull the kids into your world a bit. It often allows for some unique one-on-one interaction and, out of the mundane, lasting memories you can both enjoy. Here are a few of my favorite ways to dadcraft your errands:
1. Drive Time
The errand-tone is set in the car. One-on-one with your kid? Turn off the radio and talk. Pepper them with questions – insightful (Tell me about how school is going.), absurd (How many times do you think Superman could circle the globe before we get to the store?), or insignificant (How much do you think we’re going to spend at the store?). Anything to get talking.
But…sometimes what you’ll need are some great tunes and a rowdy, high-volume sing-along.
I like my errands efficient. Navigating the aisles of various stores, my stride is set to a nice vigorous setting as I happily check items off my list. That all changes, however, when I’ve got a fellow errand-runner. Sometimes I like to let them handle the navigation (Where do you think the shower caulk is at?), other times it’s fun to just meander…recognizing that the significance of the moment is far greater than the urgency of the errand. And, finally, there are also times when those big wide aisles are just asking for some foot races.
3. Make it Unique
This one will vary depending on the ages and personalities of your kids, but I like to make dad-only errands as unique as possible. That means some combination of: holding hands, tossing (non-breakable and/or squish-able) items to each other and then into the cart, walking the aisles with a piggybacked passenger, or shopping-cart-racecar.
I’m not, by nature, given to the edible impulse items at checkout, but a last second addition of a treat can often cap the errand nicely. Doesn’t have to happen every single time, but doing so occasionally sure doesn’t hurt. And the treat could come from places other than the checkout line…grabbing a meal while you’re out, snagging ice cream cones, etc.
With errands completed and the arrival back at home, there’s one more good moment to capture: the unload. Whether it’s a trunk full of groceries or bags of mulch, I like to get my errand-runners involved in this final step. Framed in the right way (I sure don’t know how I’m ever going to get everything unloaded…could you help?), those errand-runners will be hefting bags before you know it.
Embrace those errands and soon enough your kids will be as fond of the smell of Home Depot lumber on a Saturday morning as you are.
Toward fully embracing points (3) and (4), there’s the jelly-filled approach to errand-running. Erranding with kids often has a lot in common with hiking (slowly) with kids. The post-errand unpack isn’t the only unpack; don’t forget the value of pulling your kids into the post-trip unpack. Of course, not all errand expeditions go smoothly … but we’ve got another guide for that.