Shopping with kids during the holidays requires a survival guide. No, really it does. You need a plan for this holiday excursion, or your plans may very well fall through the cracks. My holiday shopping trips have crashed and burned many times — you know the unproductive, stressful shopping trips that only chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream can fix! After a few not-so-profitable holiday shopping trips, I came up with a mastermind survival guide that makes shopping with kids much more pleasant! Don’t worry, I am sharing my secrets today! Learn from my mistakes — wink, wink!
In the past, I have gotten many strange looks as I took six kids out for a shopping venture. One time I was pregnant, had all my kids, and was baby-sitting two more. One lady stopped me and said, “Wow…you are sooo brave!” That made me laugh! Yes, it was a bit like juggling jello, but it turned out to be fun for everyone! So, please trust me when I say, holiday shopping with kids — though longer and more tedious — does not have to be a nightmare. So, sweet mom, if you can’t find a baby-sitter and need to get your holiday shopping done, here’s your survival guide!
Holiday Shopping With Kids Survival Guide
- Shop in the morning. I know, mornings are hectic, but plan the night before. After I had three kiddos, getting infants, toddlers and preschoolers out the door took some extra planning. I would do most of my morning chores the night before, plan everyone’s outfits, pack the diaper bag and come up with an easy breakfast idea so we had the least amount of morning hurdles as possible. On days when someone called and asked if I wanted to go out last minute, it was always more stressful and the kids felt the stress. It’s much, much, MUCH better if I plan ahead for outings with little ones!
- Stash some snacks and drinks. My motto is this: keep a baby or toddler dry, rested and full, and you have a happy kid on your hands! For holiday shopping, I like to pack the extra fun snacks my kids don’t normally enjoy. I am not a fan of crackers and cookies on a shopping trip because of all the major crumb mess; but dried fruit, gummy bears, juice boxes and Cheerios are always good choices. Sometimes I even splurge and buy the cartoon-shaped individual snacks just to make the holiday shopping trip seem more fun to the kids. It’s worth it for a happy holiday shopping trip!
- Take small breaks. Changing up the scenery for kids of all ages works wonders! If you have spent an hour in your favorite department store, consider taking a short break for an outside walk. Grab a few waters or a snack and just let everyone enjoy a small break. It makes the entire shopping experience less tedious.
- Prepare for messes. Take extra changes of clothes for each child, baby wipes and even some bottled water for easy clean-ups if your child has any kind of accident. You and your kiddo will be much happier if there is someway to clean and freshen up with out her having to remain not-so-clean until you can get to the bathtub!
- Stay calm. It’s true of babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even older kids. If mom gets stressed, the whole family gets stressed. Many times when I am beginning to show signs of stress my kids try to brighten my day. They’re older now, the oldest 13 and the youngest 4, but they will offer to make me some hot tea or clean up something. It always makes me smile and regroup. So remind yourself that the little mix-ups and mess-ups that may happen during your shopping adventure are only that — little mess-ups. Life moves on, and so should you — with a smile!
- Plan a fun reward for the kids. Do your kids love to make forts? Do they love watching movies with their favorite snacks? Do they love ice-skating during the winter? Plan a fun reward that your kids will love and offer that in return for good behavior.
- Use the color system. on the heels of offering a reward, explain the color system to your preschoolers and older kiddos. They all start with the color Green. Green means the fun reward is a “Go!” If they misbehave, then the color changes to yellow which means “caution — reward is in danger.” Finally the last color is red, which means “Stop. Reward is gone.” This simple system helps kiddos keep their attitudes in gear during your holiday shopping.
- Be realistic. Don’t expect toddlers and babies to endure five hours of shopping. Break up your holiday shopping into two days or consider doing half of your holiday shopping online and half in person. Even with a survival guide, there is a limit!
- Go on a scavenger hunt. Get your kids involved and ask them to pick out something blue for their cousin. Also, ask your kids to point out items they would like to add to their holiday wish list. When you’re looking for the perfect scarf for your sister, ask your kids to help pick out the softest one. Kids love being involved and love to help — take advantage of that!
What are your survival tips for holiday shopping? Please take a few moments and share them on our Facebook page or in the comments below! Let’s all help each other on our journey of motherhood!