Shopping with a small child can be challenging, but with a little preparation, it can be turned into an enjoyable experience. We look at some of the factors that can make things difficult and how you can overcome them when you pop to the shops with a child in tow.
Whether it's the weekly food shop or a special occasion like birthdays or Christmas, shopping with children is a totally different experience than nipping out to the shops yourself.
There are always a few things that can make a shopping trip fall down before you even start. Tiredness, hunger and boredom - this counts for both you and the children.
When you're tired, your patience is low and you'll be more likely to snap. This isn't fun for anyone. When your child is tired, they'll drag their feet and be more likely to throw a strop. This can manifest itself differently in children - some lose their feet, some become clingy and others become overly emotional or vocal. Meltdowns usually equally embarrassing tantrums and often an abrupt end to the expedition.
Being hungry can become all-consuming when you're a small child; trying to focus on something else when little tummies need fuel is a recipe for failure. The expression "hangry" is often used for adults but it can be ten times worse for little ones. It can also be detrimental to your shopping budget if they're hungry as every item they want will either become a battle or find their way into your trolley.
Whenever we end up doing something we're not really committed to, there is a risk of becoming bored. If children feel like they are being dragged along to get the groceries or to shop for gifts for other people, there's a risk that they'll become bored. This boredom can lead to sullen, sulky behaviour and resistance to just about every suggestion.
Keeping these three things in mind before you head out for a shopping trip with the kids can make all the difference.
Plan shopping trips for after nap times, early morning, or just after lunch - this helps with both the "hungries" and the "tireds". Think about your own energy levels, if you are flagging at 4pm and need a sugary snack or drink - the chances are your child feels the same.
Whether you've timed your outing for just after a meal, or you've packed a snack - knowing your child has fuel will help make your shopping trip a success. Include snacks that won't leave chocolate fingerprints on every surface, or stop for snack time and wash hands thoroughly before setting out again.
If there is anything you need to pick up for your child while you are out; a snack, a pair of trainers, a gift for a friend, get them to help make the decision. It might be that they get to choose a new jumper, specify everything upfront - size, colour, price, etc. Focus their minds on one thing and you'll have their attention for much longer.
Get their attention from the beginning. Have them help make the list before you go. Give each child a list of items to look out for. If they are too young to read, print out pictures and have them find the matching product. You can follow it through when you get home and make sure they put away the items assigned to them. Being involved throughout the whole process makes the children feel invested in the outing and more likely to be helpful along the way.