Holiday shopping (or any shopping) can be chaotic, tiring, and frustrating. It becomes even more so when you have a small child with you. These tips will help you cope with the job of holiday shopping with a little one.
NUMBER 1: Respect Limits
Children have only a short amount of time before they become bored, hungry, tired, or overstimulated (sorta like adults, only worse). Limit your excursion to one or two hours. Be sure to bring some snacks and remove your child’s coat once you are indoors to prevent overheating. If you expect to have to wait in line, bring a book or small toy to keep him or her occupied.
NUMBER 2: Let Them Be Curious.
Children are naturally curious. Explain to your child before entering the store that they are only to touch items with your assistance. Engage your child in conversation and questions as you shop to make it more fun for both of you. This natural curiosity can lead a child to wander, so keeping within eyesight all the time is your best strategy. Get off your cell phone!
NUMBER 3: Avoid the Crowds
Avoid shopping just before dinner, when the stores are crowded, or the days right before a major holiday. If possible, visit stores in the morning or early afternoons on weekdays or later in the evening between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. This will prove the most serene.
NUMBER 4: Know How to Say “No”
Under a pressured shopping situation, saying “No” often means doing so in a loud, curt voice that results in someone starting to cry. Instead, try conveying that you are on his or her side, even if you can’t satisfy a desire immediately. For example, “That is nice, isn’t it? Take a good look and when we get home, can add that to your wish list!” And remember that smiles, hugs, and cuddles are all free!
NUMBER 5: Bring Some Help
If you happen to have one, tell that lazy so-and-so to get off the couch and come with you! Shop with another adult to help share the child care load. You can take turns browsing and spending time with the children. You will also enjoy the experience with a friend or family member shopping with you.
NUMBER 6: Devise an Escape Plan
If you’ve reached the limit of your patience, take a break. Plan on leaving the store if you or your child gets too impatient, cranky, hungry, or tired. Trying to complete your purchases with this stress is counterproductive and will probably result in your disappointment in the outcome. If your child begins have a meltdown, go outside for a few minutes, visit the food court, or just leave the store with a plan to return at another time. Remember that shopping can wait. An exhausted, hungry, or overexcited child cannot.
So there you have it. Six great ways to make shopping with children more pleasant. Relax and enjoy!