Shopping with kids is not on my list of top 10 favorite experiences. It involves a test of patience and wills and maybe a tantrum or two, for both parent and child. And while I’ll do most anything to avoid it, inevitably during this holiday season I will find myself at a local mall with my son, along with many other parents in the same situation.
There are ways to make the experience a little easier for all involved.
Be aware of his schedule: Make sure your child is not overtired or hungry. If it’s right around nap time, it might not be the best idea to take him out. Or if he hasn’t had lunch yet, feed him first. A full belly does wonders for the attitude. I also carry snacks and little toys at all times, since they can provide a distraction if he’s in a stroller or shopping cart.
Make a structured list: Don’t expect to browse or shop for hours on end. If you’re going to multiple stores, know exactly what you’re getting in each. If your child is old enough, let him hold it and check items off to feel part of the experience. And understand that you might not get everything checked off. You may need to leave in a moment’s notice if your child hits the proverbial wall.
Listen to your child: If he’s just whining a bit, try to talk him through it. And don’t worry about what other people think. But know his limits. Most kids can only tolerate so much time running errands until they are D-U-N - done. So before you’re peeling your child off the tile floor of the mall (hey, we’ve all been there), maybe try to head home before it gets to that point.
Take a break: The has a great little play area for kids. So let him blow off some steam for a while. This may also be a good time to share a special treat (ice cream, perhaps?) and show him some extra attention. If you’re going back to shopping, explain that you’ll be playing for a certain amount of time and then need to get back to shopping. Set reasonable deadlines and try to stick to them.
Take a partner: Whether it’s your spouse, a grandparent or a friend, having an extra set of hands makes things infinitely easier when you’re out and about with a little one.
It is possible to get everything done with a little one at your side, but it may just take a little longer. So as you’re running around trying to check things off the list, have some patience and show your kids a little extra attention during this holiday season. It will all be over soon.