- Timing is Everything
Be realistic: you simply can’t take a toddler on a quest for the perfect pair of shoes at lunchtime or naptime. If your kids are little, shopping trips need to be short and sweet, and they need to happen when they’re fed and well-rested. Has your child eaten within the past hour? Are you within an hour or so of naptime? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, put off your shopping trip until later!
- Bring Along Provisions
I don’t know about your kids, but when mine were small, they got hungry every 12.5 minutes, give or take a few. Bring along a sippy cup and a snack, even if you’re only going out for diapers and milk. Chances are, you’ll run into someone and chat, encounter a particularly long line, or think of another dozen things you need. Don’t be caught unprepared; keep a bag stocked with crackers and small bottles of water in the car just in case.
- It’s All Fun and Games
Depending on the ages of your children, consider having a (well-supervised) scavenger hunt. Give each child a few items to find, and when you’re in the appropriate aisles, let them search for the items on your list. This makes the shopping go faster and entertains them at the same time. When the kids are older, you can send them an aisle or two over to accomplish the same thing. Another game I sometimes play with my older kids is to challenge them to keep track of how much money we’re spending, and see whose guess is closer to the actual amount once we’re rung up.
- Sometimes You Need to Muddle Through
There are times when shopping simply needs to take place, even when the conditions are not ideal. If you find yourself on the carriage-pushing end of a screaming toddler or whining preschooler, just strap him into the carriage and get it over with quickly. Take consolation in the fact that in several years, you will be the one smiling sympathetically at other harried moms, and thanking your lucky stars that that phase of motherhood is done and over with!
- Have your List Ready and Map It Out
If you are going to be out shopping with your kids have a list of the things you need to get. I find that this helps cut down on the amount of time I wander around the store. Also I try to map out the stores that I need to go to so that I can spend less time driving around town!
What are some of your best shopping-with-kids strategies?