Pre-motherhood I would’ve listed shopping as my number one hobby. I would’ve even considered listing it under sporting achievements. Shopping to me was fun, it was relaxing, it was therapy.
Flash forward three years and nine months later and I definitely use different adjectives to describe shopping. Stressful, rushed, a chore, occasionally pretty miserable. Sound familiar? Shopping with a toddler can be an unpleasant experience. That being said my love for shopping runs deep and it’s not something I’m willing to give up on completely, so here’s my top tips for toddler related shopping survival.
- Plan kid friendly breaks and stops. City centre parks, toy shops, sweet shops, amusements or fun landmarks to explore. It’s important to break up a day of shopping with activities your child will enjoy, and allow them the chance to blow off some steam. Malls like Liverpool ONE often have several child friendly areas you can visit whilst you’re out (check out the Nature Trail!).
- Bring snacks. So many snacks… crisps for your toddler, chocolate for you, anything that will keep them and you going. No one wants to deal with a hangry toddler situ in the middle of Primark, trust me. Something as mess free as possible is best if your child is like mine and likes to touch EVERYTHING.
- Stay hydrated. Wine counts. Regular refreshments for your little one and you will keep you both in good spirits and avoid headaches or fatigue. N
- Set realistic and specific time frames for them, but be honest. “Two more shops then we can visit the park” will go down much better than something vague, as long as you stick to it.
- Baby/toddler wear. If you have a sling suitable, and a willing child, get them into it! Not only will your arms be free to shop, but you won’t have to worry about having eyes in the back of your head whilst your toddler runs rings around you. *Important note: losing your child is a pretty horrific experience but probably will happen to you at some point. When it does, don’t beat yourself up about it. These toddlers are hide and seek champs and Olympic runners.
- Take it slow. Toddler’s don’t understand the concept of hurrying, so try to head out when you’ve got plenty of time. Remember – coffee/lunch/happy meal breaks are essential.
- Have reasonable and age appropriate expectations. Your little one may not be able to manage a full hour of wandering around the shops quietly, or may not have enough self control to resist doing something you’ve asked them not to do. You know your child best, and if you reach their limit take a trip to somewhere in point one and grab a breather.
- Let them help. Toddlers crave autonomy, control and independence, and there’s nothing wrong with giving them a little space to feel these things. By letting your child help choose, carry or even pay for some of your shopping you’re helping them to feel involved. Dil loves handing over my loyalty card at the till.
- Make it fun. By making shopping into a game you’re much more likely to keep your toddler on side. “Who can spot the shoes first?” or “can you count how many there are?” should entertain your toddler for a minute or so, plus who knew shopping could be educational! Anything involving a race or a winner gets Dil’s attention, but I’m still waiting for “let’s see who can be the quietest for the longest” to seem fun to him.
- Treat them if possible. If you’re out buying someone for yourself or a loved one, why not let your little one choose a little something? They’ll have great fun looking around the toy store to choose something, and often it will then be something that helps keep them entertained for the remainder of the day.
- Stay calm. Things might get a little hairy. Your toddler might lay on the floor and refuse to get up, they may knock over a display or they may spill their crisps all over the floor. Is it the end of the world? No. We’ve all been there with our own kids, and if we haven’t then we will be one day. Don’t worry about onlookers judging because in my experience they are fair more likely to shoot you a look of sympathy than disgust. We are all in this together right!?
- If it doubt…. buy it online. Sometimes it’s just too hard, or too stressful. Head to the park or the zoo with your little one and order whatever it is you need from your phone when you’re hiding in the bathroom later on. Better yet get yourself a child free day and enjoy a blissful solo trip to the shops.