You may have looked at the title of this article and started laughing out loud. If you’re like most parents, you probably have at least one horror story about shopping with kids.
Planning ahead can make shopping with kids fun if you take your time and don’t overdo it. Here are 10 tips for shopping with kids.
Whether you’re shopping for Christmas or just going to the grocery store, these tips will help make your experience more enjoyable.
Plan ahead for the best results. Talk to your kids about the behavior you expect from them in the stores. Remind your kids to look with their eyes, not their hands. Help your kids make a list of items you’re planning to buy. Offer rewards for good behavior including going somewhere fun to eat lunch and picking out a small item at the last store. Have a plan for toddler meltdown and use it if necessary.
Be realistic in your expectations. Infants and toddlers don’t have the energy that older kids and teens have. You know your children best so don’t expect adult behavior from little kids.
Shop early in the day. Kids are usually in the best mood early in the day. Don’t plan your shopping trips around nap time, lunch time, dinner time or other times you know your kids will be cranky.
Bring a partner or friend along. Two adults means four hands and that makes a lot of difference when you’re in a crowded store or in a busy parking lot.
Think small. If your mall is small and you shop during off-peak times, you’ll be fine. Local stores are great places to shop with kids. Instead of planning a huge trip to the world’s biggest mall, visit some of the smaller stores in your city or town. Kids are less likely to be overwhelmed in small stores. Shop local and you’ll also be supporting your local economy.
Eat before you go. Plan to leave your house right after breakfast so the kids won’t be hungry. You know how you feel when you’re shopping on an empty stomach so make sure they eat before you go out.
Pack snacks and drinks. Unlike most adults, little kids like to eat small amounts frequently instead of three big meals. Bring small packaged snacks and juice boxes to tide the kids over until lunch.
Bring your stroller. Even if your toddler has outgrown the stroller, bring it along. You can use it to hold your bags and let your child push it from store to store. When your child gets tired, you’ll be glad that you have the stroller with you.
Break up your day. Take a break after every couple of stores. Find green spaces outdoors or other places where your kids can take a break from the retail environment. Crack out the snacks and drinks and ask your kids about their favorite store.
Don’t try to do it all in one day. Kids have limits so don’t try to do all of your shopping in one day. Your kids will be more likely to enjoy the day if it’s limited to a few hours or less. Plan a reward at the end of the day with lunch out and a small treat for each child from the last store.
You can save a few bucks by packing a cooler in the car if a restaurant isn’t in your budget and have a picnic at the park. If you make shopping fun, it will be a lot easier for the kids and for you too. Enjoy your shopping trip, wherever you go.