Mom’s Voice: Doing Errands, Mom Style

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multi taskingHallmark has done a great job branching out with Christmas ornaments and family-friendly, made for TV movies. But they’ve missed the boat on washing cars. All the best greeting cards I purchase are from the car wash.

Just the other day, as my minivan, covered in foamy white suds, slowly made its way down an automatic track, I explored the array of cards on the interior of the shop.

I took in every word of the epic-poem three fold out cards on extra-thick stock at my leisure. There’s something about knowing you can’t leave even if you wanted to that forces you to take your time.

As the big rolling scrub brushes engulfed my car, I had moved on to the humorous cartoon birthday cards, before surveying the myriad of Anniversary, New Baby, Thank You, Get Well, and Thinking of You cards.

At the checkout counter I purchased a stack of cards, which may or may not ever actually be mailed. That’s what car washes need – mail service. While the car’s windows and rims were being cleaned, I could have sat and filled out the cards, purchased stamps and mailed them. Ahhhhh, the ultimate multitask maneuverer.

Getting more than one errand done at a time is a mother’s favorite tool. It’s the reason we love Target. Getting our photos developed while buying a birthday gift, a new spatula, bedding, socks for the kids, and snacks for the team is exactly the way a mom’s brain thinks.

Perhaps my favorite merger is the bank inside the grocery store combo.

I’m surprised more marketing mucky mucks haven’t tapped into this multiple-errand well.

I have some more multitasking ideas that I think would work.

We all love the drive through pharmacies, drive through cleaners, and drive through Starbucks. Why not combine some of these things?

Imagine, “I will have a grande mocha, no whip, and I have a dress and three shirts to pick up, under Fales.

Then there’s the obvious one stone, two-bird scenario: children’s dentists should offer dog grooming.

Gyms have already thought of childcare, yet if they also offered children’s haircutting and a service that replaced fraying and broken shoelaces, they could make a mint.

Restaurants should make cell phone screen replacement available while you eat. Indeed, it’s rude to use your cell phone at the dinner table, so you’d never miss it. And after a nice meal with family, everyone could pick up their cellphones, good as new.

Nail salons and Jiffy Lube should get together to offer the mani-pedi-oil-lube-filter. Or the lip wax/smog check.

The only thing that doesn’t work in the multitask errand model is parenting itself. When I try to check my messages on my cell phone while playing cards, or run and put the towels in the dryer in the middle of a movie we’re all watching together, the kids notice. They don’t like it, and they are right.

If there’s one area that deserves our focus in its entirety, it’s our kids. Even when there’s dry cleaning to pick up, frayed shoelaces or cracked cell phone screens to replace. Even when our car is dirty, or the dog needs a bath, something hasn’t been mailed and our polish is chipped and cracking on our toes, kids just want to be with us.

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Follow her on Twitter @JillFales.


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