Entertaining Kids With Boring Errands


We didn’t take a big family summer vacation this year. To be honest, I didn’t plan ahead of time and the end of the school year snuck up on me. I figured we could do mini staycations or summer fun days instead. But of course, life has been busier than expected, and those also ended up being hard to fit in. When August rolled around, my guilt set in and I was determined to have some magical days with tons of summer fun squeezed in for the kiddos.

I was planning a trip to the pool for one of those days when Tropical Storm Fred took a turn towards the panhandle. We realized that we were overdue on storm prep, so instead, my husband took our four-year-old out for a day of errands at Home Depot, Best Buy, and the grocery store…. all the things that make me exhausted to just think about doing.  While they were out, Chuck called to check if we needed anything else.

I heard our son having a blast singing his heart out in the back seat- he sounded like he was on his way to a party rather than helping his dad pick up storm supplies.

After they’d finished the must-dos, they drove by a flower shop, and our son asked if he could stop in so that he could get me, his aunt, and his Gigi (what he calls my mom) flowers. My husband took him in and told him that he would need to talk with the ladies at the shop about how to go about it. He walked back into the cooler, picked out different colors for each bouquet, took them to the register, and thanked the ladies (with some reminding) for their help.

When the boys got home, our four-year-old was so excited about everything they had done he could barely contain himself.

I could see the pride in his face when he gave me his flowers and the pure joy in his eyes from spending the day running errands with his dad. 

Chuck and I were talking later about how much fun they had driving around together, and it struck us both how many wonderful memories we had of doing the seemingly mundane tasks of living with our parents when we were kids.

We are big fans of the show Ted Lasso – it’s a comedy based around a Division II American football coach taking over an English football club (soccer team). Jason Sudeikis is hilarious as an overly earnest Midwesterner dealing with some deeply cynical Brits.

A couple of weeks ago, the episode was based on the team owner taking her goddaughter around for the first time in years. All the girl wanted to do was tag along for a day of work, but the owner kept taking her to big elaborate activities, and they kept falling flat. They ended up running into one of the surlier soccer players, who tells the owner of the team that he doesn’t understand why his niece likes being with him so much.

He says, “watch this,” then barks to his niece about going with him to his podiatrist appointment the next day. The little girl squeals and looks as excited as if he’d offered a trip to Disney.

It’s a funny example but rings so true that kids love spending time with us and having our attention- whether it’s doing something cool and fun or doing what we see as boring chores.

Trips to the hardware store or the bank with my parents not only made me feel like the only kid in the world, but they also taught me how to interact with the world around me.

I watched my dad hold the door open for other customers and watched my mom always thank whoever was working the register. I’m sure they would tell you how much more work it took to get me to the point of using those manners routinely (I’m learning that for myself these days) but watching them treat people with respect in their everyday interactions ingrained that behavior in me.

Between avoiding stores during Covid and trying to be more efficient with chores to have more time for the more fun activities, I haven’t done a ton of errands with the kids lately. We’ve tried to give our kids age-appropriate responsibilities around the house and remind them to say please and thank you.

The day of storm prepping was a good reminder that our kids have responsibilities to learn outside of the house, both in the things we do for our family and how we treat the people around us.

I love that while running errands, our little boy wanted to get flowers for the women in his family, and I love that he practiced some life skills while doing it.

I also love that to him, that morning was really a special and fun outing with his dad.


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