The truth is this: shopping with kids is extremely challenging. As a parent, we need to learn how to manage the situation to make the shopping trip as pleasant as possible. After all, who really wants all the attention on you as you try to take back control of your kids in a crowded store? If you can avoid taking the kids along, do it! If you can’t, we have some suggestions to help turn your festive shopping experience around.
Before heading out
Make sure that you prepare for the trip to the mall. If you’re planning to shop with toddlers and infants, make sure that they’re fed, well-rested and that you have a nappy bag brimming with all the necessities. For older kids, make sure that they wear comfortable walking shoes and always carry snacks to distract them with if they start to get rowdy.
Communication is key – even though it might feel like they don’t listen to a word you say. Before heading to the shop, make sure the kids know to which stores you intend to go and what you intend to buy: bubble bath for Granny, file dividers for Mommy at PNA. It’s also a good idea to tell them what you expect of them. ‘I don’t want you touching the things in the store’ or ‘I don’t want you running through the aisles’ are good ways to communicate how you want them to behave.
At the shops
Try to keep the shopping trips as short as possible. Children have short attention spans and the situation can quickly turn into a catastrophe if you take too long. Another trick is to take short breaks between shops. Go have a cup of tea while the kids enjoy themselves in the mall play area. You can also take them for an ice cream or a quick snack, or give them your smartphone so they can play a quick game to distract them. The fact of the matter is that a bored child is a misbehaved child and a bribe goes a long way.
Make a point of always doing something afterwards. If you hype them up about something ‘cool’ their anticipation will keep their mind off the shopping and even encourage them to behave. Always try to end the shopping experience on a high. It doesn’t always have to cost money. Bribe them with the promise of a sleepover with friends, baking cookies or watching their favourite movie together.
What are your shopping tips for other parents this festive season? Leave us a comment below!
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