Shopping With Your Toddler
Going shopping with a toddler is definitely not for the faint of heart. As any mom knows, not shopping is really not an option. We all survive on it and some of us thrive on it. I have my fair share of war stories culled from my experiences of venturing into the shopping world with active toddlers. I remember one trip to the mall with my three year old toddler and his six month old baby sister. My son kept begging me to go up the escalator, but with a newborn baby in a stroller there was no physical way for me to do it. He decided to take matters in his own hands, and when I passed the escalator he broke out of my hand and stepped right on. I can’t even explain the heart-stopping fear I experienced when I realized my precious son was on his way up, by himself! Should I abandon the baby and race after him? Which kid to I leave alone? It only took a split second before a good samaritan, who I am forever indebted to, took his hand and called down to me that she will accompany him up and bring him back down. Trembling below I watched their progress, praying that she would indeed bring him down, and not snatch him up and run for it when she reaches the top. She did bring him right down, but that was it the mall. One can shop online quite wonderfully. It was only when that child began school that I once again stepped into the mall, but only with one child a time.
I also recall the time when I took my son, then three years old, to buy a birthday present for my husband. I was debating between two pairs of cufflinks when my toddler began to get edgy. I showed him both cufflinks and asked him his opinion. After agonizing for over 20 minutes I made my choice and took them home. When we got home, my son dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out the other pair of cufflinks. “I know you wanted these Mom, but you left it at the store so I brought it home for you.” Needless to say, I took him back to the store to return it. Not my finest moment!
On the bright side we did have some wonderful shopping trips over the years. It’s a great learning experience for toddlers and a nice activity for both of us.
Here are some tips I picked up over the years to make your shopping trips to the grocery and mall a little easier.
When grocery shopping:
Don’t leave the house until your kids are well rested and well fed.
Make a list before you go. You don’t want to be standing in the grocery aisle trying to remember if you have canned peas at home while your child is throwing a tantrum.
Avoid the busiest times in the store. If you are a stay-at-home mom shop while when everyone else is at work. The lines are shorter and you’ll be home quicker.
Put your child in the shopping cart and keep up a running commentary. Point out items as you shop – their names, colors and shapes.
Ask them to help you find some items on your list.
If it looks like you are in for trouble, get the must-haves first. Most stores have the important items such as fruit, dairy, meat and bakery items on the outer perimeter of the store. After that you can get the rest of the stuff if your toddler permits.
At the mall:
Bring along a snack or stop by the food court when they look like they need a break.
Bring along a small toy or activity such as a magna doodle or sticker pad for them to do in the stroller while you shop.
Remember to take them for bathroom breaks periodically. You don’t want to be in the dressing room trying on an evening gown when the need strikes.
Play eye-spy to entertain them during long waits on line – a red shirt, brown shoes etc.
Run through some rules of shopping before you leave so he knows what to expect.
For their safety dress them in bright clothes so you can spot them if they dash off. If they have a tendency to wander, either label them with your number or have them memorize your cell phone number as soon as they are old enough.
Know your child’s limitations. Take them home before it’s too much for them.
Don’t aim for perfection. Melt-downs may happen. Try to ignore the other shoppers – hopefully you will never see them again.
If all fails shop online! They do grow up …