My husband and I have worked opposite work schedules for years so one of us would be at home at all times to care for the children. While this has been a blessing, it was not always easy. Errands were always a bit challenging when alone, doing the shopping, with three children (that were not quite 4 years apart). I had to set some boundaries.
One of the things that worked well is that I designated some errands as "getting only needed items" errands. When we were on these errands, the kids knew that we were not going to look at toys/candy, etc. However, from time-to-time I would designate an errand as a "toy-looking" errand. This really helped the stress level and allowed me to totally relax and allow the kids to leisurely browse the toys without rushing them. During this time, we do not buy toys, but the children are allowed to write things on a "wish list" for their birthdays, Christmas, etc.
While I was at the bank this weekend (we have a branch inside our grocery store and it is sooo nice to be able to take care of business on Saturday/Sunday!), I spotted these debit card recording booklets. They were so cute - I asked the guy if I could have a few.
We took these booklets and created a different twist to our "toy-looking" day. I told the older two children to pretend they had $100.00 saved in their account. Then, they were to "shop" for items and spend the money. They had to record the date/description and subtract the amount from their balance.We also rounded to the nearest quarter to make the subtraction simpler (and it also helped us practice our rounding skills!)
They had so much fun "fake-shopping." I also liked the fact that it doubled as an introductory teaching experience on how to balance your checkbook. I allowed them to check their work in the concession area after we were done as we enjoyed an Icee (my favorite drink of all time!)