Do you prefer shopping alone or with your kids?
Is that a serious question? Obviously, any parent will say they’d rather shop alone! But sometimes you have no choice but to bring your kids with you. And you know what? You can do it without dealing with multiple meltdowns and having one yourself. Turn frustrating shopping trips into fun, bonding experiences with our helpful tips for shopping with kids.
Make sure everyone is fed and well-rested.
You haven’t eaten breakfast and your little one’s morning nap is in 30 minutes. Surely it’s OK to run to the store really quick, right? Nope. Don’t go. Quick runs to the store aren’t possible with kids of any age. Your child will get loudly upset before you can check out, and since you went on an empty stomach, your hanger is more likely to come out instead of the calm, loving parent you typically are.
When it comes to shopping with kids, work around their schedule. But you also shouldn’t go if you’re not feeling up to it. Find a time when you and your children are fed and well-rested so that your shopping trip ends on a happy note rather than a stressful screaming match.
Comfort is key.
Going to the store isn’t a fashion show. Dress yourself and your kids in clothes you feel comfortable in. T-shirts and sweats (and even kid’s pajamas) are acceptable at every grocery store.
Another thing you may not think about is how uncomfortable shopping cart seats are. They’re hard and cold. If you’re shopping with a child who’s old enough to sit in the seat, put a Binxy Baby shopping cart cover over it before your child gets in. Made from plush fabric and available in adorable prints, your child will be riding in comfort and style. It’s also a germ barrier and has a secure 3-point seat harness, so it’s as safe as it is soft.
Keep your kids happily entertained.
Sometimes even 10 minutes in the store is too long for kids. They need something to do. Luckily, you have several options to keep them busy:
- Bring toys and books. Or give them your phone (no judgment here).
- Let them munch on snacks from home.
- Give them responsibilities. Ask them which cereal you should buy and let them check items off their own shopping list.
- Make it an educational experience. Teach your kids about different ingredients in foods or use sales to work on their math skills.
Another thing to remember is that kids are naturally curious. They may want to look at, touch, and talk about all the different things they see. You don’t want to stop and chat about why pineapples look the way they do, but you also don’t want to tell them “no” each time they ask you something. Plan a little extra time during your shopping trip to indulge their curious little minds.
Be alert to your kids’ needs.
Kids have limits – very short limits. Babies and toddlers don’t usually do well in malls. They can easily become overstimulated from all the lights, noises, and people. Even older kids get bored and tire quickly if you’re dragging them from store to store.
Be mindful of your kids and their limits as you shop with them. Carry your baby in a carrier so your closeness soothes them. Break up your shopping day with a trip to a nearby park or ice cream shop. Keep focused on your kids so you can give them the attention they need, and give them a break when they’ve reached their shopping limit.
Be ready for the checkout lane.
“Mom, I really want these M&M’s!”
“Sorry, not today.”
“Yes, today! I want M&M’s. I NEED them!”
Heard a similar conversation before? If there’s one place every parent hates walking through with young kids, it’s the checkout lane. All the candy, soda, chapstick, and magazines your kids could ever want is all within their little arm’s reach (thanks a lot, stores). And by the end of your shopping outing, you’re tired, impatient, and ready to go home – and so are your kids. Now is the time to pull out that special treat or toy you packed that your kids rarely get to have. Hopefully that will save you from having to deal with little beggars. If that doesn’t work, use the self-checkout lane where there’s usually fewer things to entice kids.
Give yourself grace.
Being a parent is an important role, and we all want to do it right. That’s why moms and dads can be so hard on themselves. Parenting is hard. Running to the store with kids can be an exhausting excursion. If your toddler has a meltdown because you won’t let them get something and someone gives you a judgmental eye, ignore them. There’s no room for guilt when you’ve got a shopping cart full of food and kids. As a parent, you have to give yourself grace, lots and lots of grace.
What other stress-free shopping tips do you have for parents?