When my oldest was two, she liked to go places and do things much like she still does today. She’s a doer and a social butterfly, yet even the most social two and three year olds have their limits of how many errands they can stand before they melt down.
At the same time, there are sometimes days that parents just really need to run a lot of errands. Sometimes it’s just unavoidable to have to go 5 places in one morning, even though we’d much rather space the trips out for the sake of the toddler or preschooler in our lives.
On one of those days that I knew I was going to be running around a lot, and dragging two-year-old M (and her baby brother) with me I had a wonderful brainstorm that worked so well that I used it any time we had a “running” day.
Before we left that day I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and sat down with M. I told her we needed to go to a few places and we would be getting in and out of the car a lot. Then I drew her a picture list in the order of the places we would be going and the things we would be doing. I drew a target to symbolize Target and told her that first we would go to Target. Then I drew an envelope and explained we’d be stopping at the post office. Then I drew a building with a flag in front of it and told her we would need to stop at her school. And so on with the errands, ending with a picture of a house to tell her we’d be going home after the last errand. I told her we would eat lunch at home so I drew a plate and eating utensils last so she’d know we would eat lunch when we got home.
As we got in the car to start our errands, I’d given M a pen so she could mark off each errand as we completed it. I made sure to ask her what the next errand was before we left the previous place. She loved being able to help me remember what we needed to do and it kept her focused on the goal: getting things done so we could go home and eat lunch!