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If you’re a mom, you probably already know that running errands with baby in tow is not always a walk in the park. For some reason, these are always the moments when your baby can’t seem to sit still or has too much energy. Here are a few tricks I use to make my life easier when I shop with the kids.

Plan outings around your baby’s naptimes

When your baby doesn’t have a fixed schedule, it’s a bit more difficult. Like me, you need to know your baby well enough to predict when she’s starting to get tired. If I’m going somewhere far, I turn the time in the car into naptime. If my daughter is still sleeping when I arrive, I slip her into her baby carrier so she can keep on napping. A sleeping baby makes everything go much more smoothly, since you can concentrate fully on the task at hand. If naptime is over, take advantage of a well-rested baby to leave; she may have a lot of energy, but at least she won’t be grumpy.

Bring snacks

If your toddler is eating solids, don’t forget to bring several little snacks with you. A full stomach always helps keep a child calmer. Dried fruits are great since they don’t make a mess and are easy to bring along. I like containers with two handles and a soft pliable lid that allow your baby to slip her hand in and retrieve her treat. The benefits of these containers are two-fold: they let you work on fine motor skills and feed your baby at the same time!

Use a baby carrier

A baby carrier is always a good idea, especially when going someplace busy. Not only does it keep your baby safe and snug, it lets you use both your hands! It takes much less room than a baby carriage and is extremely practical when grocery shopping and unloading your car!

Go during off-peak hours

If your schedule permits, the perfect time to run errands with your young child is on weekday mornings. There are a lot less people in the stores so your baby won’t feel so overwhelmed and you can take your time.

Take a couple of minutes to connect with your baby

Take a few moments to really communicate with your child, to look her in the eyes and give her your undivided attention; this may help lighten both baby and mommy’s moods! I enjoy calm areas such as family rooms to have a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle to recharge before continuing!

Use the outing as an opportunity for baby to learn

Getting out of the house and away from baby’s usual environment already makes a new learning experience fun. If you’re at the grocery store, name the fruits and vegetables for your child and start teaching her about colours and shapes. You can also ask your child to help you choose the products. Children often want to help, and you can get them involved putting fruit in a bag, for example. It’s a great way for them to learn to control their motor skills and develop new abilities. When baby starts walking, get her to help do the groceries by giving her a little cart to push as well.

Ask for help!

I know, I know: you can do it all—the bags, the kids, the lists, the meal planning—the whole kit and caboodle! You’ve set up a method, and it works. However, I’ve learned to say yes and to accept help from strangers who see that I’ve run out of breath and arms trying to load the car. There are also several times when the people around you won’t even notice that help would be greatly appreciated. Rather than waiting for help that may never come, just ask!

Audrey Sckoropad