Mothering Mischief – Summer errand slow down

One of the hardest things to do in the summer is to drag my kids out the door to go somewhere important, like the grocery store.  I call it the summer errand slow down.  I’ve found that a little mothering mischief can help.

Here’s the scenario. See if you can relate.

Me:  Kids, we need to get dressed and go to the grocery store.

Kids:  Why?

Me:  Because we’re out of food.

Kids: Do we have to wear shoes?

mothering mischief

Two hours later, I’m still waiting. The kids wanted to finish their cartoon.  Then they needed a snack.  Then we couldn’t find the shoes.  They got distracted and started playing.  Someone had to go to the bathroom.

And on and on and on.

Three hours later, we FINALLY left the house.

Ridiculous is probably the nicest word I can use to describe that nonsense.  It was frustrating.  It was exasperating.  And, to a certain extent, it was embarrassing.  I realized I wasn’t in control of my kids.

it will take longer to leave the house

That was two summers ago.  Do you know how long it takes my kids to get dressed and out the door now?


Most of the time, they beat me out the door.

I used a good healthy dose of mothering mischief.


Mothering mischief is when you tap into that creative side of yourself and come up with an unexpected way to make parenting a little more… interesting.

How I solved summer errand slowdown

I had time to think during that three hour wait for my kids to be ready to leave the house.  During that time, I came up with a plan.

First, I drove past McDonalds.

Kids: Are you taking us to McDonalds?  Cool!

Me: Sorry, we don’t have time.  We WOULD HAVE had time if we had left the house when I asked you to.

There was grumbling from the back seat.

Next, I drove past the toy store.

Kids:  Are you taking us to the TOY STORE?!?!?

Me:  Sorry, there’s no time today for fun trips.  You took too long to get out of the house.

There was, at that point, silence in the back of the car.

(note that i didn’t actually lie to my kids.  i let them think that they lost out on a visit to the toy store, but i never actually said it.  sneaky, but effective.)

creative parenting helps

The results were instant.

When we got home that day, my kids put their shoes where they belonged. The next day, they were ready to go in 15 minutes without a single reminder from me.

Kids:  Mom, do we have time to go to McDonald’s today?

It wasn’t meal time.  But I stopped anyway.  I bought them each a drink and let them play for about 30 minutes.  It was a cheap reward for the behavior I wanted from them.

About once each summer, I find myself waiting by the front door for my kids for longer than I find acceptable.  And at least one other time, there will be some lost shoe drama.

my kids will lose their shoes

All I have to do is drive by McDonalds and remind them we don’t have time.

It’s just a little mothering mischief.

Because I’m the mom, and I can.

What’s your best creative parenting strategy?  Do you engage in some mothering mischief of your own?  How do you handle those long waits by the front door and summer errand slow down?


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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. What a great idea! I wish I’d thought of things like that when they were younger. Now I just leave them home…try taking a teenager with you to the grocery store! It’s like pulling teeth. I can’t wait till I can send them to the grocery store to do the little trips…won’t that be fun! I’m sure it will be a novelty once or twice and then they’ll get that I’m just trying to get out of it myself!
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  2. I agree! I can’t wait until I can send them to the store to buy the milk and cat litter. That would be… blissful.

    I can assure you this idea was born out of desperation. 🙂
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  3. Melinda Stanton says:


    • I think it was inspired by the Grace Based Parenting book. He's the one who suggests that when your child won't get dressed on schedule you place your undressed child in the car and allow them dress in the parking lot when you arrive. (that works too. we know first hand.)

  4. That is some serious genius parenting right there! And we are stealing it like nobody’s business!! Because what you just described is 100% our lives!-The Dose Girls

  5. {Melinda} I just love how your mischevious little mind works. Do you think this strategy would work with teenagers? I\’m trying it … summer is coming. Gulp.

    • Since I don’t have teens, I don’t know for sure. I do know that a “friend” tried this on her husband one weekend. She used the hardware store instead of McDonalds. She said it worked for about three weeks, but that it did cost her a trip to the hardware store the next day.

      Good luck! I’d love to know if it works with teens.

  6. Lovely story, thanks for sharing with us! Kids are so much fun, right?

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