- We always plan where we need to go in advance. I look at catalogues on the internet so I have a rough idea of what we will get where. We try to get the things which are most important first, so that if things go pear shaped, the less important things can be abandoned. We always tell the kids what our plans are so they know how the day will go.
- When we are planning to shop, we try to include things that the kids are interested in such as the toy shop, smiggle, or pet shop. Our kids often use this opportunity to spend their pocket money.
- Before we get out of the car, I remind them that we are not in the top paddock, so they can’t run around and yell like they would outside at home. We talk about what we expect in terms of behaviour. They do need reminders about ‘indoor voices’ at times. I’m not afraid to sit my kids down in an out of the way corner for some time out should the need arise. It’s rare that it happens, but I find that it solves the problems faster than trying to ignore bad behaviour.
- Praise them when they do it right. Try to get in early as soon as you catch them doing the right thing, praise them, and then they are more likely to continue that behaviour.
- Stop shopping before they get hungry, and grab some morning tea or lunch. We always use shopping days as a day to have a few treats. A doughnut for morning tea, or an ice cream for afternoon tea helps keep everyone in good spirits.
- Take snacks. I have boxes of sultanas, and small containers of chopped up apple in my purse. That way if you are stuck in a shop and the hunger hits, you can hold them over for 10 minutes. Hungry kids are not fun to be with.
- Take book or small toy. If you’re looking at furniture or big items encourage them to sit in the corner and read/play. Hannah and Meg are happy to carry a book, and Toby is happy with a couple of matchbox cars. One time we were in Ikea and it was taking a lot longer to get everything than we imagined (rooky mistake!) so we whipped out the mobile phone, and the kids watched you tube clips of Sesame Street. We try to avoid handing our phones over as entertainment for the kids, but just occasionally they are super useful!
- Encourage kids to enjoy looking without having to purchase. Our kids know that begging will not get them anything, but they are free to admire all the interesting things in the shops. I make a point of looking at exciting toys or games with the kids and talk about how cool they are. Toby might sometimes say ‘I wish I could have….’ and I generally reply something like ‘I bet you do, it looks really fun’. I try to acknowledge that it’s OK to want things, but you don’t always get what you want. With the girls I ask them if they want to buy with their pocket money. Generally that sorts out how much they want it. If they’re not prepared to part with their money, they don’t want it that bad.
- We often have so much to get that Country Boy and I split up. We each take a few of the kids, and it just makes life easier.
- Sometimes, despite all this, things just don’t go well. At this point we are happy to just pack it in and go home. We want days out with the family to be pleasant. Not stressful. If it is getting bad, go home and try again another day. By making sure you get the most important things first, you can usually check off most things before the behaviours heads south.
Neither Country Boy or I are fans of shopping. We want to get in, get it done, and get out again. With the kids, we try to keep it calm and predictable, and try to throw enough things in for them so that they don’t get too bored. I want them to remember it it as a good family time, and mostly it is.
Got any tips to add? Do you even shop with your kids?