Being a parent and running a household with small children underfoot can be really overwhelming, especially when you can’t leave the house alone! Running errands with kids can seem impossible, so whether it means hiring a babysitter, trading kids with a neighbor or getting creative with shopping and appointment times, there are solutions out there. Here are a few tips for surviving all the household logistics and management as a busy mom of a large family, a single mom or anyone else who feels like they’re in charge of everything!
When I tell people that we homeschool, the response I get most often is “how do you do it?” And while I think this line is usually just meant rhetorically, I started realizing that we have developed some habits and tricks that make running a household with all these little kids more doable. Hopefully they can help another mom who’s feeling exhausted and overwhelmed!
In a perfect world…
Trading babysitting with a friend. This can work really well if you have it set up ahead of time and, for example, you shop Tuesday mornings while your neighbor watches your kids and she goes to a dentist appt on Wednesday afternoon while you watch hers. Win-win!
- Going shopping early in the morning or late at night. When I first discovered WinCo (do you have one by you? Their bulk section is great!) I began shopping there every Monday morning at 6:30 or 7am. If I was by myself, I could whip through there in about 30 minutes and make it home just before Luke had to leave for work. Bonus: most stores are like ghost towns that early and there are never any lines!
- Grocery delivery or pick-up. Most people have heard of Wal-mart and other places offering grocery pick up services where you order online and then go pick up your groceries without even leaving your car. But my service of choice lately is the Shipt app which sends a shopper to my fave local grocery store (they also do Target now! Not that I’m looking to delegate my Target shopping. That’d be silly) to pick up my order and then bring it to my house. There’s obviously a fee and I think food prices are a bit more but for a busy mom (who coincidentally HATES grocery shopping) it’s a lifesaver!! Also, never underestimate the power of the great and mighty Amazon Prime.
- Snagging a local preteen to babysit for cheap. Our current babysitter (who we pretty much only use for long trips or big events now) began babysitting for us when she was just 12 or 13 and we used her a ton. Paying a kid $10-20 was worth it to me to have a couple hours to shop or go to an appointment alone.
Scheduling doctors and dentists appointments back to back. Sure, my kids might be on different schedules for well visits, and they don’t always get sick at the same time (thank goodness!) but with a little finagling, I can often schedule at least 3 appointments at the same time to avoid running there over and over again. My dentist knows we’re all coming in at the same time and just blocks off the whole afternoon for our family.
- Wear that baby! Some babies love hanging out in a grocery cart or car seat while you shop but lots of mine were cranky little stinkers, especially in a cold grocery store. I always keep a baby carrier or wrap (ergo carriers and sollybaby wraps are my faves!) in my car and use them to keep baby snug and close when she gets fussy. Bonus: sometimes they can snag a little catnap while you shop.
- Look for stores with kid care centers. I’ve used a certain local grocery store many times even though it’s, like, 10 miles out of my way, because they watch kids for free! I get to use my AMEX Blue Cash Preferred there too and earn rewards so it’s worth the trip. IKEA also does this, as do some movie theaters. Hopefully more places realize what a boon this is for moms of little kids and it starts becoming more common.
- Find all the drive through places and glass store fronts! If I can’t drive through, then I’ll bring a big kid with me to sit with the little kids while I run in and do my 2 minute errand (like dropping off packages). I only ever leave kids in the car if doors are locked, car is running (with climate controlled air) and where I can see them through the store window. Just be sure to check what’s legal in your state and never leave any child in the car who can’t get himself and others out safely in an emergency.