My friend, Christy, recently wrote:
“So here’s a blog entry for you to write about:
How do you go to a toy store, that doesn’t have carts, successfully with 3 or more kids under age 5?
Today I went to “Learning Works” with all 3 to get a birthday gifts for a friend. We talked about expectations ahead of time. But about 10 minutes into it a little hand reached up for a shovel and knocked over an entire display case!! You should have seen it!! Lol.
It took an hour to get out of the store. I was still smiling, but came home and just fell into a chair, saying I would never take all 3 to a toy store, learning works, or Party City again. :-)”
I love this quote by Marjory Pay Hinckley:
“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
Knowing my friend Christy, she did everything right!! She was prepared to have a successful (meaning happy, smooth-sailing, and productive) shopping trip with children! She had prepared well even talking to the children before hand about expectations.(This is a huge key in a happy outcome whether shopping of visiting dr or sitting reverently through church!)
I know how time and attention she has vested in her children, how much they love and respect her and want to please her so she had everything going her way but yes, with little ones under 5 there are bound to be surprises!! I’m so glad she handled it with a smile!!
(Mothers, at all costs, avoid making your child feel terrible about themselves when they don’t mean to make a mistake any more than you do! I know Christy was great about this too- realizing it was simply an accident, not her child’s fault!)
So when it comes to shopping trips, or just life in general, surprises happen! Also there are children who may be dealing with issues we don’t know about or understand (everything from hunger and sleepiness to just starting to get sick to ADD, sensitivity, even autism issues). Let’s be patient with our children and try to see things from their point of view.
That being said there are several ways to make your own shopping trips with a child, or children, especially under age 5, more successful:
–prepare them, & you, ahead of time. Telling them where you are going, what you are doing, what you expect of them is a great start.
– keep it moving. My brother has started to tease me about this phrase I say to my kids now and then, but the preschool teacher in me knows to keep kids happy and out of trouble, keep it movin! Especially when it comes to teaching children, shopping, well, most challenging moments of mothering, keep it movin!- keep on movin too, right? Don’t get stuck comparing prices on spaghetti, or comparing labels for health benefits when you have children with you! (Save that for when you’ve snuck out alone). Keep that cart rolling! Even visiting a friend you bumped into needs to be brief because children can sense more than any boredom coming on and it all falls apart from there.
– Keep kids engaged! You can have a really fun, rewarding (even educational) trip if you keep your children engaged, thinking and challenged. Play ‘I spy’, only with the next item instead of colors. Or let them pick the needed items off the shelf to stay busy. Let them make choices between items when you can, ‘should we buy green grapes or purple grapes today?’ ‘Would you like peanut butter with nuts or without?’ You know whatever choices you can offer. You may even know what they will pick but just think how great they will feel contributing to the family shopping event!
–enjoy your time with your children! Maybe I’m quirky but I’ve always enjoyed taking ‘my little buddy/buddies’ along with me to the store. There is something really sweet about tucking your little one in the cart right in front of you (& thank goodness for ‘triple’ carts!- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been grateful for those!) and having a little companion/s to love and enjoy through the store. I’ve seen mothers who are terrified of taking kids to the store, or Moms who push their children away from then in such ventures. I’ve wondered if their children don’t fight harder and be more of a nuisance because they wish they felt loved, trusted, needed, safe?
–stay calm, even SMILE, like my friend Christy! I absolutely KNOW from my own mothering experience, children reflect in their actions our emotions!! For some reason they have radar and know, I’ve found through experience, even better than we do at times, when Mom is stressed out. This principle applies everywhere but if you don’t want to get into a bad cycle of building stress between you and you’re child who is acting out more every minute, stay calm!!! (See next step for a great way to do this).
-focus on the positive! The best way to turn the tables when stress is building? Or to keep them from turning over to begin with? Find something positive happening and focus on it, even vocally recognize it. I’ve tried to be grateful and focus on the positive as a parent but there was a time with little ones that I forgot how powerful this concept is to moms & families! Here is an experience that reminded me:
We had many school concerts to go to for the older children, new to the area and with my husband away on call, I took the 3 ‘babies, age 5,3 and 1 with me’- it was horrible! I’d always been able to manage any kind of quiet setting, even with 5 children under 7, but now with #s 6,7,&8 this was out of control, most concerts would end with me surrendered and out in the halls with my three running up and down them being way too loud. I couldn’t wait to leave the building!!! After many miserable evenings trying to watch my big kids without my little kids being a terrible distraction to others, I finally remembered. I had stood up to leave with my bickering babies but sooo didn’t want to because my boy’s part was coming up. I could feel the stress and anger building in me then I wondered what to do. Finally, clear as a bell, I remembered! Focus on the positive, find the good going on. I looked around at my 3 jostling children. At least one of them was still half on her seat coloring. I leaned over the other 2 and whispered, loudly enough for only my 2 others to hear I hope, ‘thank you soo much Gracie, for sitting quietly and coloring! I’m glad you are being quiet for the concert.” That was it! I couldn’t even believe how the tables turned!! My stress diffused but better than that the other two took to quietly coloring!
Yes, I still have one that LOVES to run & the other who doesn’t seem to know how to whisper, & one who would rather be anywhere but at a concert but we’ve never had to leave a concert and I’ve never felt frustrated again! All because of that tiny principle put into practice: be grateful, focus on the positive, find and recognize the good and it grows!! I actually even look forward to concerts with these three now, maybe you can look forward to shopping with your little ones someday too! 😉
Just this week I was with all 9 of my girls, aged 17 years to 8 months old in a teen clothing shop. My four big girls were having a hay day because it’s the first shop we’ve been in for quite a while that had modest clothing at a great price! We were spread all over that little shop, my three little girls checking out the jewelry and hats, my babies in the stroller parked in front of a box of toys or being pushed by me or someone else around the store to keep them entertained, and my four big girls and I checking out shoes, capris, skirts and shirts throughout the store. We had been there more than an hour when a really beautiful mom came into the store, well back into the store I realized when she told me she went to get her kids in the car and just had to come back in to ask me how in the world I had such well-behaved children?! She sincerely wanted to know. I was flattered by her kindness, surprised I had unknowingly been watched, and super glad I could have happy shopping trips with nine!
It made me stop and look at my blessings for a minute: I obviously cannot take full credit for my children’s behavior, and of course some come better behaved than others (and some moments are better than others), but I’m just sooo grateful for everything I’ve learned early on (& am still learning!) that’s made mothering a delight and joy to me!!! What i have learned from my own family, from experience, from my favorite parenting approach “Positive Parenting” by Glenn Latham, and from my church which has absolutely sustained me as a mother and been our greatest strength as a family, has truly made mothering, whether at the store or at home, a joy and delight to me! (Most the time ;-))
So good luck Moms and Dads! With shopping and ALL family ventures today!!!
Love, The Mom
Do you have any tips for successful shopping trips with children? Please SHARE yours in a COMMENT below!!!