Shopping alone with your child can be a dreaded nightmare. Especially if you have multiples. After my first child was born, I remember avoiding bringing her to the store whenever I could. As a baby, I feared she would cry uncontrollably in the store and I wouldn’t know what to do. As a toddler, I feared she would knock over things and catch tantrums over toys she would see on the shelves. Then, my son was born and my fear of shopping alone with my kids doubled. I never wanted to be “that” parent. Looking back, I realize that all of my fears were just dramatic delusions I’d built up in my own mind. Sure, they’ve had their moments of being little monsters in public, but I’ve learned to roll with the punches. Now, I realize that those situations were never as bad as they seemed.
With my third child entering the world soon, I think I’ve got the shopping with multiples thing down to a science. Right now, my biggest shopping worries are that my daughter will start performing her own Disney musical throughout the entire trip and my son will loudly proclaim he has to do “number 2” every time we pass a restroom.
Shopping with kids doesn’t have to be so stressful. Here are a few ideas to make your shopping trip go by a little smoother.
- Have a pep talk before entering the store. If your kids are old enough to understand this, then make it clear before entering the store what’s expected of them. Use your inside voices. No touching. No running around. And most importantly, don’t ask me to buy you anything.
- Take a deep breath. Breathe in, breathe out, and remind yourself to just stay calm and everything will be okay.
- Bring something to keep them occupied. Bring a book, toy, or tiny stuffed animal to keep them entertained.
- Let them help out. Give them simple task like being in charge of the shopping list and letting them put things in the basket. Before we enter the store, I tell my daughter what we need to get. She’s in charge of reminding me of everything. Even though she forgets half of the list, this little strategy keeps her mind focused on what to buy instead of breaking out into song and dance.
- Offer a reward for good behavior. Sometimes I offer my kids a special treat if they’re good in the store. Some might call this bad parenting, but I call it a tactic that works. The key is to only offer it every other shopping trip, not every time. This way, even when you don’t have anything to give, they’ll be good with the hopes of getting something in exchange.
When all else fails, just remember to stay calm and don’t give into the pressure. During those rare moments when my kids decide to go completely bananas and there’s nothing I can do about it, I simply tune everything out. Let’s face it, kids will be kids and sometimes we can’t do a darn thing about it. In those moments, I have no choice but to be “that” parent. If you find yourself in one of these situations, do what I do and pretend that it’s just you and your children and the rest of the world doesn’t exist.