I have had on occasion (quite often actually) people come up to me in sheer amazement that I'm out and about with my three young kids (5+under). Heck, looking back from where I came from sometimes I amaze myself... not that I have it all figured out or am the perfect mom (I'm SO not), but at least in this area of parenthood I have come a long way.
Truly you wouldn't believe I went through a phase in my early parenting days that I actually could not go to the store with my kid (pre multiple children days). I had to leave Rylee home with Sevio, even the thought of taking her with me threw me over the edge. Running errands turned into such a stressful, unpleasant, and not to mention unproductive event that I just opted for not doing it at all, or waiting till late when she was in bed. Can you say not healthy. Say it... NOT HEALTHY!
We are not meant to holed up in our homes, going slightly loopy because we have a kid(s). Kids are not a burden. Kids have needs that need to be met, and they have seasons of volatility, but they should not debilitate you from living life. You can do things you did prekid days. You can take them with you. You can have an enjoyable experience. And you can... pardon my French... get shit done!
So I've been there, I know how you can feel trapped in your own home, like staying in is a whole lot easier than facing the public eye of your volatile toddler. I've learned some tricks of the trade and hopefully sharing them will help some other mom out there that is feeling like I once did. I can promise your kids won't always behave while your out but if you incorporate some or all of these tips in regular day to day life your outings with your kid(s) can be productive + fun... yes, FUN!
Tip #1 Pretrip Assembly. This means all kids have recently had a snack or meal, all bums are freshly changed, and older children have sat on a toilet. Then your checklist: shoes, jackets, diaper bag, soothers, stroller/carrier... oh and don't forget your luke warm cup of coffee.
Tip #2 Be Prepared. This is crucial for your survival and the enjoyment level of everyone involved! Pack easy snacks (fruit, cut up veggies, granola bars, my homemade kiddie munchie mix, seaweed snack packs... anything your kids will surely eat), water/milk bottles. Kids turn into wild animals when left unfed for too long... hangry mini humans = bad news bears.
Tip #3 Know your limit, play within it. Kids have limits, there's only so much boring adult stuff they can handle. Create opportunities for fun, for us we make a pit stop at the grocery store bakery for a yummy cookie or cheese stick, for recycling day the kids take turns who gets to get out and help (they love it, and their learning to be little helpers... Bonus!), or make a pit stop for 10 or so minutes at the park to run off some of their exuberance. Also trust your mommy senses, you know when things are about to get hairy, it's ok to call it quits before it's too late. (bonus tip: have fun things that live in the car but don't forget to change them up once in a while... ex: books, coloring, small interactive toys)
tip#4 Prioritize. If your a list person, make a list of the most important things you need to get done. Do them first. That way if things turn sideways, and we all know they can and surely will, you will have gotten the most pressing "to do's" handled and can rest at ease that the important stuff has been taken care of. Everything else can wait for another day, no biggie!
Tip #5 Reward Good Behaviour. This doesn't have to mean giving them treats or tangible rewards but I do think its important to recognize and encourage your child when they have behaved well. Fill up their little love tanks with positive affirmation. Be purposeful in recognizing their good qualities and behaviour to build their character up. But treating them to a trip to the local coffee shop for a shared hot chocolate or smoothie once in awhile is great too!
Tip #6 Take it slow. Doing errands with small kids can get infuriating if we're trying to do too much or trying to rush their small little legs and curiosity along. Enjoy the moments of doing life together, make the time to let them explore and answer their questions. Also take the time to parent them, don't give in to their tantrums... they're smart, it just takes one time of giving in for them to know what to do to get what they want!
For example, lately Adelyne has been refusing to stay in the grocery cart, she wants me to carry her. Have you ever tried to carry a child while trying to maneuver a cart around a store... no... just no. She's too young to be running free, and isn't to be trusted in the big part of the cart, she is extremely stubborn and is the queen of tantrums (no joke... inconsolable till you give in), so what do I do?! I give her a timeout, we find a spot out of the way and she sits for a 1 or 2 minute timeout right then and there, some may think that's harsh, but holy smokes IT WORKS! She doesn't even cry, she knows she's pushed it too far and does her time, and then she sits in her seat and we move on (*this will not work for every kid... just an example of taking the time to parent your kids in the heat of a moment without running for the hills or giving into their screaming fits)
There you have it, happier less stressful excursions are possible! Now go, get your kids and get out there! ... Good Luck!