Turning errands into adventure and fun with littles

Often people say that there’s not much to do when the kids are home on vacation unless they organize major outings.  I want to share about a day I recently had with the younger boys, since it’s an example of how easily regular errands can be turned into fun with just a small shift in perspective!

For the day in question, I had the following scheduled: a visit to the naturopath first thing in the morning and an appointment in the afternoon with an ENT for ds4 and ds5 to an ENT.  In addition, I needed to get paperwork from my health clinic (in one outlying neighborhood) and more paperwork from National Insurance (in a different neighborhood).   I turned all of this into an opportunity for fun and adventure with the kids, while getting everything needed done!

As I was dashing out the door in the morning to go to the naturopath, ds7 asked me if he could come along.  I hesitated for a second, then told him to quickly get on shoes and come!  We took a bus to the naturopath, where he played with Legos in her living room during Yirmiyahu’s session. When we finished, rather than take the bus I suggested we walk to the health clinic to pick up the paperwork.  (Walks are a great because you can see things you don’t see when you’re driving.)

On the way, we passed the home of someone who was apparently decluttering since a number of things were outside being given away.  With the dearth of thrift stores here, our enjoyment at finding bargains finds an outlet with opportunities like this :), and ds7 had a good time going through the boxes, coming away with a number of things (including a small set of Knex and pickup sticks).  I didn’t know how we’d carry everything home, since I was wearing Yirmiyahu and was carrying a purse, and then in the things being given away we found bags!  Perfect.

I had never walked to the clinic before and didn’t know quite how to get there, so ds suggested we cross at a certain place.  I was willing to go along with that, and we came out to a park where we found grapes growing wild.  Ds picked a bunch of these (putting them in one of the containers we had found) and snacked on them as we continued to the clinic, We got the paperwork and headed home, him happy with his adventures and acquisitions, along with having me to himself for the morning.  None of this was planned; it was what we happened upon during our spontaneous walk to the clinic.

When we got home, ds4 and ds5 were disappointed that they missed out on the fun!  I reassured them that I’d take them on a special adventure later in the day when we went to the doctor.  (The week before I had been in that area and noticed a couple of things they would enjoy.)

When getting ready to go, I told them to put on their bathing suits and swim shirts – like this they would be ready for water play and still be dressed in clothes that looked normal for traveling on public transportation.  We went to the appointment, then stopped at the National Insurance office to get our paperwork but rather than just hop on the bus home after finishing our scheduled errands, I told them we were going to have an adventure!

We walked through the pedestrian mall and I told them to keep their eyes out for fun.  They shouted with excitement when they came across fountains bubbling out of the sidewalk.  Of course this is why I had them put their bathing suits on earlier, and they spent an hour playing there.  Since the height and patterns of the fountains was constantly changing, it was very fun for them.

When it was time to go, I suggested they run a little further along the pedestrian mall and see what else they could find.  They ran until they found a large and beautiful parrot outside a pet store, as well as a cage with a ferret and another cage with baby hamsters.  They spent another hour playing with these (the ferret and hamsters through the cage bars), and had a wonderful time.

Finally I said we needed to head home.  They asked if we could go to the library.  I rarely take them to the library because the hours they are open didn’t work well with their school schedules and energy levels.  I told them that if we walked home, we would pass the library on the way and could stop in there. Did they think they could walk that far?  Yes, they all wanted to do that.  So we went to the library, spent some time choosing books, then continued walking….all the way home.  Going from the ENT to our home was a substantial walk (a couple of miles) and for our tired boys to do this at the end of a long day was very impressive.  Ds4 was literally sleepwalking while holding my hand when we got to our street.

Here are my two tips for finding fun in your every day life:

1) Look at the things around you through a child’s eyes.  Anything unusual or different can become something for them to explore.  There were playgrounds we passed on our walk that could become potential fun outings for another day.

2) Leave extra room in your schedule when you go somewhere with your kids – as our boys were playing in the fountains, I watched as most of the other children who passed longingly watched them as they were hurried by with their parents.  The reality is that we are busy people who often have to rush from one thing to another – this is often how it is for me.  But the irony is that sometimes we rush by the things right in front of us, thinking that we have to take our kids special places in order to have fun.  Even things that aren’t

Kids can have fun anywhere they’re given the opportunity!  So open up your eyes and be open to possibilities!


3 thoughts on “Turning errands into adventure and fun with littles

  1. One question: how would all of this turn out if you “had” to take all four kids on all the outings? I am guessing there was another adult or sibling watching the other kids at home, while you could take just some kids with you.

    I am always running errands with all the kids, although my oldest two are finally old enough to be left home alone for very brief outings. I find that when I have to take all the kids on all the errands things get out of hand (crankiness, fighting, sulking) while when I can just take one or two willing ones, we can have fun.

    1. For me it’s pretty much the same approach regardless of how many kids I have with me. When the kids are occupied and enjoying themselves, I don’t find that they get on each other’s nerves so much.

      Until my oldest was 13, I took all six kids with me everywhere (shopping, doctor’s visits, etc) and we had to find a way for outings to be enjoyable for us all. I made a conscious decision to have a low tolerance for squabbling so they pretty quickly learned to behave accordingly.

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