There are few things more challenging than trying to manage your children in the middle of a crowded mall during the holiday season. If you don’t learn how to master the art of Christmas shopping with children, then what is meant to be a joyous time can quickly turn into a catastrophe. Here are some tips to help you get through the escapade with everyone happy.
I have found that shopping during the holiday season can be stressful sometimes and it can be even harder when the kids are with me. However, there are a few things that I do to try to make shopping trips as pleasurable as possible. I think these tips will work for you too!
Avoid it if you can
Large, overcrowded malls obviously aren’t the most ideal place for young children. So, whenever possible you should try to arrange for someone to watch your children while you are doing your Christmas shopping. And do as much shopping online as you can. Of course, that is not always an option, but when it is, it can save you and your kids a lot of frustration.
Prepare for the shopping trip in advance
Never, and I repeat never, attempt to go Christmas shopping unprepared. You know your kids best so you know the best way to prepare for a shopping extravaganza. But here are a few things that I’ve learned to do along the way. I always feed my children before we leave the house because there’s nothing worse than hungry children having emotional meltdowns in the middle of the mall. I also bring snacks, a change of clothing, and ensure that the kids have comfortable walking shoes on. I also try to go in the morning or after my children have had a nap so that they are well rested. It’s probably not a good idea to take a tired, cranky, or sick child to the mall with you. And when my kids were infants, I always made sure that I had a fully stocked diaper bag with all of the necessities for a two-hour shopping spree. Never, ever leave the house without being properly prepared.
Remind the kids of expectations
Remind your kids of the expectations before leaving the house. It’s always a good idea to refresh their memory about what you expect from them in the mall. Of course, make the expectations simple statements and try to tell them what you expect of them rather than what you don’t want. This helps them remember better. So for example, you’ll probably want to say, “I want you to walk while in the mall” and “I want you to stay by my side while we are inside” instead of saying “Don’t run in the mall” or “Don’t wonder off while in the mall.”
Do shopping in short intervals
Kids have short attention spans so it’s best to try to keep each shopping spree to under two hours. If you have to be in the mall longer than that, try breaking it up into two-hour chunks. After two hours, stop and take an ice cream break with the kids. Also, in many malls there are public play areas for families. Let them spend half an hour or so in there to take a break.
Be prepared to leave
If you see that one of the kids is about to have a meltdown, be prepared to leave. This will save both you and your children embarrassment and frustration. You know the signs that indicate that a meltdown is on the way. Just leave. You can always finish your shopping another day.
Plan a treat for after the mall
I like to reward my children for a job well done. When we have successful shopping trip, I always have a special little treat for them when we get home. Perhaps we’ll watch a new or favorite movie together, bake some cookies, or play a game that they like. It’s a “thank you for being so patient while Mommy shopped” kind of treat.
So these are some of the ways that I try to make sure that the shopping trips during the holiday season are successful. What are some of the things that you do?