Lots of people like to shop, but sometimes it seems like having kids is a serious impediment to the process. And kids can indeed cause problems on your shopping expeditions, getting into trouble and making noise. But this does not need to be the case. With proper planning and preparation and thought into the process, shopping with kids can be not only painless, but fun as well.
Plan Your Trip
Image via Flickr by Jurgen Appelo
The key to a successful shopping expedition is solid planning. If you have a sense of which stores you need to go to and when, you can avoid losing time to distractions. At the same time, don’t make your plan so rigid that you are unable to adjust it on the go. For instance, you might decide that you need to visit Kohl’s to use your coupons to get a new pair of shoes, followed by a trip to an appliance shop. Try not to get diverted into stopping at a different store in between, but don’t set an exact exit time.
Involve Them in Decisions
The big problem with kids and shopping is that they can get bored and start acting out. Then your family becomes a public spectacle. One way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to ask your kids to help you in making decisions. For instance, you might decide that you need to visit Kohl’s to use your coupons to get a new pair of shoes, followed by a trip to an appliance shop. Of course, you should try to only present them with choices between things you have already decided you like.
Another cause of bad behavior is hungry, low-energy kids acting out because they need a snack. You can try to stop off at a food court, but the food there may not be the best thing for your kids, providing sugary treats that cause peaking energy levels swiftly followed by a crash. Instead, you should try to bring along some healthy snacks, like granola and fruit bars. These foods will give them the energy to keep them awake with an adequate balance between short term pep and long term wakefulness.
Stop Off at Fun Stores as Well
Kids like to shop too. They just often prefer to go to different stores. When you take your kids along with you on a lengthy shopping expedition, do your best to include some stops that they can enjoy as well. Instead of just going to Old Navy to use your online coupons, stop off at the toy store so your kids can look at the latest action figures and video games. If at all possible, budget a small amount for them to pick out something with if they behave well on the trip; not only does this help keep them calm, but it lets them learn about prices and money.
Done right, shopping with your children along can actually be more fun than going out alone. Just remember to keep in mind the reasons behind bad behavior, and you will be fine.