how to have successful outings with kids

Going out in public with kids can be tough. We’ve had our share of incidents of Vienna not listening well to us, or having little fits, and then we become frustrated or impatient and it just puts a damper on the event.

But there is hope! We’ve found that taking a few simple steps make our outings more enjoyable and go a lot smoother. You can use these tips for wherever you go: the farmer’s market, the park, the library, or the grocery store.

Tips for a successful outing:

  • Discuss a time limit. Before going on certain outings, Asa and I will discuss how long we plan to stay. This keeps us on track so that we aren’t dawdling. It also forces us to consider nap time or if we should pack snacks or a lunch. Nothing is worse than staying out for too long and having upset, tired, and hungry kids to ride home with. Additionally, we like to set a timer on our phone for a time limit while we are out. If we’re visiting the library or the park, setting a timer signals to Vienna that time is up and we need to clean up and go (we’re still working on this a bit).
  • Discuss rules or guidelines. We’re still working on this one too (it’s so hard for kids to pay attention & listen!), but we’re getting there. Discussing rules/guidelines with Vienna before a visit lets her know her boundaries. While she isn’t perfect with this, she is learning 🙂 Sometimes we will tell her, “Okay, we are only here for x amount of time, all right?” If she asks to walk independently, we like to say,” You may, but you need to walk next to me” or “Please hold my hand while we are in the parking lot and when we cross the street.”
  • Pack snacks and books. I’m sure everyone already does this, but there’s no better way to keep a kid happy, satisfied, and occupied than to bribe them with food (let’s be honest: we’ve all done this!). We choose healthy and nutritious snacks like fruit and veggies, homemade trail mix, or sometimes a Plum Organics pouch. We don’t offer processed foods or sweets as a snack option. We sometimes indulge in treats, but they are never a go-to option. As far as books go, let your child pick out the ones they want to bring. Vie loves to read and so by letting her choose a few of her favorite books to bring along, it becomes another activity that she will enjoy while riding in the stroller or if we’re sitting down to enjoy a picnic.
  • Dress in similar outfits. I like to dress myself and the girls in matching outfits. Most of the time it is unintentional, or I do it just to make things easier, but recently I’ve discovered that it can be a helpful tool to use in case someone gets lost. If I cannot remember what Vienna is wearing that day, at least I can say, “She’s wearing the same thing I am.” I have heard of other moms who dress their children in bright colors so that they can be seen in a crowd. This is a good tip, too.
  • Get them interested. Ask your kids what they would like to do or what they would like to see. They will be much more cooperative if they are allowed to help pick the activity. After all, they want to see and learn just as much as you do, so asking for their input makes the outing a learning experience for them.
  • Get them involved. If you’re visiting the farmer’s market, let them choose the food from your shopping list or choose an item that they can snack on while you’re shopping. If you’re at a grocery store like Trader Joe’s, let them push the cart and help unload it at the counter. When they are done playing at the library, have them help clean up toys and books. Getting them involved keeps their hands busy and their mind focused on the task in front of them.

The great thing about these tips is that they allow for learning and development opportunities. Take the time to teach your children what you know — they love to learn! Toddlers love to help, so let them any chance they can! It can be frustrating, I know, but they enjoy it so much and it will help them grow into mature, responsible people.

And since it’s officially summer, you can read this article if you need ideas for how to keep your child(ren) entertained and occupied. I wrote the article last year and the great thing about these activities is that they are cheap (or free!) and don’t involve any screen time (okay, except one activity). We participate in these activities quite often!

Does your family take any steps to ensure successful outings with kids? I’d love to hear your tips!

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