If you've never had to run an errand with a child before, I guess the best way to describe it - is to take a bag full of cats with you, walk into any store, open the bag to let the cats go...aaaaand THEN try to get your shopping done.
Never mind the meltdowns or begging and pleading for something that they just HAVE to have...it's the whole experience. When we go into any store with our four, five, seven and nine year olds...at times it takes an act of God for all of us to come back out alive.
Here are some things that have saved us through the years that might come in handy for you too.
Let's begin at the beginning...preparation. I once had a college professor that used to say, "Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance." If your kids are hungry before you go shopping...good luck. And if you're hungry when you're going grocery shopping...forget about it. I think it might actually be a form of torture in some countries to take a young child up and down each aisle of goodies and snacks when they're starving. It's enough to drive anyone mad. Make sure that everyone has something in them before you go. It doesn't hurt at times to even pack a snack for the kids to eat when you're shopping if need be.
To go along with the theme of preparation - it's also a good idea to make a list. It seems like when I make a fast dash into the grocery store with the kids to get some milk, we end up dragging ourselves back out of the store with a full cart and a $195.00 gallon of milk. Not so good. Try (to whatever degree) to plan out what you need. Write your list on paper, on your phone or at least make a mental note in your head. If you know what you're going in for...chances are, you'll come back out with a much better result.
Parking. Common sense will tell you to park as close to the store as possible. You can even find "New Mommy" designated spots right in front of the store at times. This is a rookie mistake. For years I would all but beg for the first closest parking spot and actually wait forever just to have people pull out of their space so I could get it. Then I had kids. There's nothing more frustrating in a parking lot than to have a car full of bouncing little ones while you're trying to unload a shopping cart. Just for fun...let's make it a rainy day too. The kids finally get in their seats, the shopping cart is unloaded...but...now what? You don't want to get everybody back out so you can return the cart - (plus, it's raining) You can't leave the kids in the car alone while you push the empty cart where it needs to go either. What do you do? A neat trick that I've learned is to skip the coveted parking spots closest to the store altogether and go for the areas right beside the grocery cart drop-off section instead. It may be strange to park halfway back in the parking lot in the beginning, but when your shopping is done, the kids are loaded in the car and the bags are all packed in the back...it's so much easier (and safer) to push the empty cart into it's place when it's right next to your car.
Everything in between the planning and the parking lot is where the fun begins. Hopefully the kids will cooperate and make it a good experience so you can get your errands done. Sometimes it's good to help things along by giving them an item that they have to look for or have them be in charge of checking things off of the shopping list. It also helps at times to give the little ones a small toy or game to play with when they're in their stroller or grocery cart.
There are things you can do that help make a shopping experience with your kids tolerable...and dare I say it...enjoyable.
I'll have to say, I try to remind myself (usually around the produce section) that the kids WILL get older and hopefully it will be easier to run around and do errands in the future.
Until then, we do what we have to do - to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Herding kids (and cats...and monkeys) certainly can make for one exhausting job.