Who knew going shopping needs tips? Well it can be a mission going shopping with your toddlers, trust me I know first hand!. I’ll get straight into it…. Below are some tried and tested rules that I have for myself.
Rule 1: Do not forget the stroller!!! If you have a Tot that complains about his/her tired legs when having to walk, it is a life saver to have your child strapped in the stroller as you walk around inside the shops. They can be kept entertained by giving them a toy to play with, hanging clothing items, women paying attention to them and of course you playing peekaboo here and there. It is also easier to keep them in a stroller if and when you decide to try on clothing.
Rule 2: Have toilet breaks for older potty trained Tots. Well generally 1st one being at home just before you leave. Do not forget to ask and get them to go after a couple of hours shopping when you see an opportunity, even if they say they may not need to go 🙂 It’s better that they go in a toilet than having to do a marathon run to a toilet when they can’t hold it anymore.
Rule 3: Get them involved in the shopping fun. Listen to their questions and answer them, tell them what you are looking for, and ask them questions as well. This will let them know what you are doing at the shops which can help them stay calmer and understand whats happening a bit better. This way you can turn shopping into an educational learning experience for them (as with anything you do) which will make the whole shopping activity into a bonding activity where your little one will feel like you are listening to them and are spending quality time with them (which you are!).
Rule 4: If you want to reward them with a ride for their good behaviour (or just because you do), do this activity at the very END when you are about to leave the shops to get back in the car. It is also a good idea to prep them beforehand, saying if they behave well during shopping they will be rewarded with one ride. Rewarding can work miracles, now the reward does not have to be a ride or a food item it can be a positive praise for behaving so well, yes it also works if not better because they feel so proud to hear that mummy/daddy thought so highly of their behaviour and that may work next time too (fingers crossed). we sometimes stop at a play ground or have a healthy snack as a reward and generally they work well. Be careful of those shopping center rides and buying reward toys, if they get used to that habit they can work against you as you go past those items. It is always good to keep varying your rewards to avoid possible tantrum situations.
Rule 5: What works well with my children is breaking the trip up with little breaks where you spend some time with them changing the scene a bit. May be a little babyccino stop, or a little play stop. Of course set the limits before you tell them to go have fun at the play area, that it is a 15minute play session and that when you finish your coffee we are getting back in the stroller for another walk. As long as you prep them well the resistance you get from them will be less. If you hear them complaining remind them what you mentioned earlier and say that was the rule.
Rule 6: Stick to your rules (most important rule for a parent to adhere to!!). If you told them you are going to put them back in the stroller after you finished the coffee do it. When kids know you are serious and you keep to your word they respect what you say and listen to you. If you are going to give into their demands then you will always have to put up with tantrums and feel tired and exhausted at the end of it.
But there are times when your child is absolutely tired and none of these rules work. If all they want to do is cry and throw tantrums it is better off getting that tired little person to have a nap and postpone the shopping trip to another day when you know they will be well rested. But if you must go shopping on that same day do it after giving your little one time to have a bit of a rest, it will make such a positive impact on the whole shopping experience for both the parent and child.
I hope this helps you handle that (sometimes) dreadful trip to the shops with your little bundles of joy. Just go with your gut feel, no point in making yourself or your child get stressed out over shopping:)