Fortunately, I have developed myself a system for visiting the library with kids. Here is how it goes.
How to visit the library with kids
Plan + Prepare
- Order books I want (for myself and for the kids) through the online catalog.
- Gather all library books that are due.
Execute:Walk in the library doors. I know when I do this I have 5 minutes tops that my kids are going to be willing to stay quiet and by my side (I'm probably carrying the baby).
1. First stop, book drop. Gotta get rid of the books that are already in my bag, and avoid library fines! One time I didn't turn in our books very first. I ended up lugging them around all over and forgetting to turn one in. That's never gonna happen again.
2. Next, pick up holds! My library has a hold shelf I can just walk up to and get my holds. This is always my second stop because it is located in the main area of the library (read: where my children are expected to behave themselves.). At a previous library holds were kept behind the desk, so I would pick them up at checkout. But where I am now, getting my holds first and loading them into my bag helps me know how many books I've already got. It has happened to me before that I've loaded myself down with books, only to have to stop by the hold shelf and pick up so many more that getting to the car is far too hard.
3. Beeline to the kids' section. Here, we browse! We play. We read to each other. If we happened to get to the library at the right time, we attend story time. I know it's time to leave when a) my large book bag is full OR b) the kids are ready to nap/eat/meltdown.
4. Check Out. I like to check out as quickly as possible. Sometimes this means using the self-service checkouts, sometimes it means letting the librarian help me out. Either way it means having my card handy and/or my card number memorized. We've got a library card key fob, and that is my typical choice these days.
If I do these steps out of order, it just doesn't work out well for me. If we go the the kids section first, then getting my kids back into "follow mommy closely" mode is so difficult. If I check out and then we go back to playing, we inevitably find another book we HAVE to get and therefore we have to check out again (and now the line has gotten long, of course!) and the kids are sick of it. A couple of weeks ago, we had to deviate from the formula twice in one trip (for a potty break and to sign up for summer reading). Disaster, I tell you.
So. This is my tried and true method. Is this helpful to you? Do you have your own pattern of behavior at the library? Do tell!
After you comment, you might like to revisit How Do I Make Reading Fun? or 10 Books to Read to Kindergarteners. Happy Reading!