Imagine a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and some fresh fruit. Now picture coming home three hours later with toys, cookies, candy, no milk, and only a bag of apples. You are tired, frazzled, frustrated, broke from overspending, and now you have to return to the store for milk. This is an example of what shopping can be like with little ones, and this is grocery shopping, imagine going to the mall. The fact is, when you shop with little ones, things have a high likelihood of not going as you had planned. There is a good chance you will come home tired and frustrated. So what can you do to keep yourself from going crazy when shopping with little ones? Try the following things:
1.Have good timing.
Part of staying sane is going shopping when your children are more likely to behave. You know your children better than anyone else. When is the best time of day for them? Great, that is when you should go shopping. Do not go during nap time unless you want to deal with Oscar the Grouch Takes Human Form. Do not go during lunch time unless you intend to buy food while you are out. Do not go if your child is feeling under the weather. Do not go if you have to be back for something really soon, as chances are something will go wrong. Timing is a big part of keeping yourself from going crazy when shopping with little ones. Obviously you can’t always get the timing perfect, but you can do all in your power to avoid bad timing. So, if your kid is sick you may not be able to help it, but that does not mean you should go during their regular nap time.
2.Take along a bag of tricks.
Kids are humans too, and they get bored just like adults do. So, do not make the mistake of thinking your child will sit happily in a stroller for five hours while you browse the mall and talk with your friends. If you are taking little ones, take something for them to do, to eat, to drink, and to enjoy. This means take some books, or crayons, and toys. Small items are best as your child will likely be confined to a smaller space. Take a snack, or if you will be gone a long time, several snacks, or even a meal or money to buy some food. Take their favorite sippy cup, bottle, etc. Take a juice box, or a few juice boxes. If you over prepare your trip will be less likely to make you crazy.
Kids want to be a part of the action. If you are going to keep yourself from going insane while shopping with little ones you have to keep them from annoying you with a million requests and whines. So, to do this, talk to them. Get them involved in the shopping process. Let them put items in the cart, choose something for you to try on, or buy, and ask them lots of questions. If they start asking for a million things, do not just get mad, but talk them through it. The more a part of the experience they feel, the less frustrated and obnoxious they will be, and the easier and more enjoyable shopping is going to be for you.
4.Containment is key.
If you want to keep yourself form going insane, do not take two kids and no stroller. You only have two hands, and it is hard to keep track of kids and shop at the same time. So, take a stroller that will let you strap a kid in, and keep your hands free.
5.Make it fun for everyone.
Last but not least, make it less insane for you by making it fun for everyone. Do something for you, then something for them. Get your children excited. Let them choose a toy or a treat, or a movie or something. If you make it fun, you will be able to laugh off the frustration.