6 Ways To Keep Your Children Happy While Shopping
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Most nights I plan a whole to-do list in my head. Typically, going out and running errands makes it on that list. However, before morning even hits, I’ve usually talked myself out of it. The idea of taking children into public, especially while outnumbered, is TERRIFYING! While 99% of the time they may be complete angels… it’s that 1% chance that they’re going to be impossible. The worst case scenario always pops into your head… what if they both jump out the cart/stroller, run in opposite directions, and start knocking everything off the shelves… all while bawling their little eyes out, of course?! Okay, so many that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the picture. Over the years I have found some tips and tricks that makes taking children out into public, without having meltdowns, a little easier. I have gathered up a list of 6 ways to keep your children happy while shopping.
Before we leave the house we always have them pick one toy each. However, they know their limits… we’re not trying to have them riding their bike around Target because that’s the toy they picked! I usually try to keep their toys packed away in the diaper bag until they’re getting antsy and need something to occupy their mind/hands. I find it easier to wait until their getting antsy to give them their toys, instead of exhausting all options before they’re even over the shopping trip. Kieran ALWAYS brings along a Rescue Bot (typically Chase or Blades) and Daxton usually brings along a Hot Wheels car, or Woody (from Toy Story).
Snack time just ended? Great! Pack another! Haha. Seriously, I think they’ll be okay getting one extra snack to save your sanity …and everyone else in the store along with you. I usually try to make sure it’s a snack that they get very rarely, or only when we’re out and about. The only way I bring something other than that is if I know it is something they LOVE and will, without a doubt, be happy to eat it. Our favorite snacks to bring along are applesauce pouches, Scooby-Doo Graham Cracker Sticks (or doggy bones, as my kids say), granola bars, string cheese, and apple slices. As a last resort, I always have fruit snacks in the diaper bag, because if nothing else is working… fruit snacks will at least make them happy enough to get 2 minutes of silence out of them while they try to beat the world record of “How fast can you shovel fruit snacks in your mouth and swallow.” As I mentioned above, giving them a snack is something I hold off on as long as possible, unless I know they’re hungry. Food is usually the one guarantee that they’ll be happy for a bit.
From the beginning of the shopping trip, I usually let Kieran (4 years) out of the cart. Some days I regret it, but for the most part… if we have a plan, and I keep him focused on the plan, he is a great helper. He LOVES helping to search for items. Giving him item after item helps him to forget about everything else he wants, or anything else that could possibly be at a store. Tell them what item to get, have THEM get it and put it into the cart, and then straight away tell them the next item that you’re searching for. The key is to make sure to keep them BUSY.
One of the biggest things I do before we leave, and even while we’re driving there, is to prepare them! I make sure to tell them what we’re going there for. If my intent is that they will not be getingt anything this trip, I make sure that they know that right off the bat, before we’re even at the store. For my kids, explaining things to them makes it SO much better. Rather than just telling them no, giving them a reason behind WHY will (more often than not) make them respond so much better. My 4 year old is constantly wanting every toy he sees. Telling him he isn’t going to get a toy can result in a bit of unhappiness, but I’d much rather that happen before we’re at a store. Making sure I tell him before we’re even at the store gives him an opportunity to accept that it’s not happening.
If for some reason they were behaving EXTRA well that day, and I was okay with them picking out a toy, I would make sure to let them know that they must be on their best behavior the ENTIRE time. Make sure they know that you’ll be picking out the toy/item at the END of your shopping trip. Getting them through the shopping trip is key. Children are bound to have days where, for some reason or another, they were misbehaving… it’s much more difficult to put the toy back than to just pick it out once you know they’re going to be taking it home.
Long story short: AVOID THE TOY AISLE, SECTION, OR ANYWHERE THEY COULD POSSIBLY GET A GLIMPSE OF A TOY… AT ALL COSTS! Haha. In all seriousness, them not knowing that there are toys/fun items there… will make things a lot easier! “Oh, I need to get over to the home department… let’s just take a quick cut through the toy aisle to get there quicker.” NO! Even if you must go the whole way around the store to get to where you need to go… DO IT! You’ll thank me later!
Good, Old Fashioned, Bribery!
When all else fails… good, old fashioned bribery typically will work. Let me preface this by saying… in no way, shape, or form do I think children should just be “rewarded” for bad behavior. If they’re being horrible… we will definitlely just walk through that store with them crying with no shame – kids HAVE to learn. However, this is more so for the times that they’re just antsy/cranky for some reason or another, unrelated to just straight up misbehaving.
With that said… Make sure you exhaust all prior options before resorting to bribery. More often than not something on the list above will work. If you prepared them before you got to the store that they would not be getting a toy, but they’re being crazy, and nothing else it working… snacks work well as well. I know I already mentioned snacks, but there is something about them picking out their own snack that makes everything in life better. “Never reward a child with food!” Well, I’m sorry, but… sometimes it just must be done. Letting them pick out that snack for the ride home might be the only thing that saves your sanity. However, I would suggest making it a snack, or something other than a toy, especially if you told them they wouldn’t be getting one. Consistency is key, but if we can make them think they aren’t going to “win” by giving in and getting them a toy, find something else that will work… but that they don’t realize is us slightly giving in. Everyone has to eat, right?! Everyone’s main priority is always how to keep your children happy while shopping! So, if giving them a snack will forever ruin their lives… so be it! At least your can say you know how to keep your children happy while shopping…. right?! Haha.
There is my list of 6 ways to keep your children happy while shopping! I’m sure there are tricks every mom has up her sleeve that work for her kids. If you have any other ideas, or things that work for your kids that aren’t on my list, please share them!