Survival guide to shopping with children
Taking children to the shops – it’s enough to fill some parents or carers with dread, while others are more than happy to take their angels shopping with them. After all, we’ve all witnessed children having a tantrum in shops or stomping around muttering “I’m bored”. However, a family trip to a shopping centre can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family and we’ve put together some tips to get them, and you, through it.
While we haven’t been able to have a shopping trip with the family in more recent times, we’re looking forward to enjoying a visit again when we can!
Planning is everything – Sometimes children have good days and others… well, not so good. Plan a shopping trip in but try and be flexible. If they didn’t sleep well the night before and aren’t having a good morning, perhaps it’s not the best day to go shopping with them, so it might be best to reschedule. Also try and not take them on an empty stomach, because that’s ALL they will think about, so remember the drinks and snacks too. Try and avoid peak times and crowds if you are worried how the shopping experience will go. Think about what clothes you are all wearing and comfortable shoes are an essential – children may get hot in a shopping centre with big jumpers and coats on, so think layers in colder weather.
Don’t expect too much or plan in lots of shopping in one go – children don’t want to spend hours shopping and shouldn’t be expected to. Plan what you really need to buy and where you want to go in advance and make sure you tick the urgent things off your list first, in case things don’t go to plan. Get them involved with making a shopping list too and they can help tick off the list. Make sure you make time for breaks too and head outside if it does get too much and you need some air!
Make it fun – engage little ones in the experience as they are always keen to help and see everything as a big adventure. Ask them to find something, teach them something as you shop or get them counting. You can also point out fun things you see and make shopping a learning experience! Remember, children are curious, so just watch them around the breakables!
Think about your escape route – think easy parking, somewhere that doesn’t involve too much walking and an easy escape route back to your car, in case you are on your own with a child who suddenly refuses to use their legs! At Chantry Place, we have a lots of parking in Norwich city centre with quick and easy access to the shops and where everything is then under one roof.
Family friendly facilities – well, these are pretty essential. Somewhere with family toilets, with lifts for pushchairs and with drinks and food. Shopping centres often have family events, activities and promotions on at certain times of the year too, so keep an eye out for anything that will help make shopping more fun for little ones. In Chantry Square, we plan to have something engaging and fun for photo opportunities and for little eyes to wonder at as much as we can, so make sure you head outside for a visit.
Be positive – if you remain upbeat, hopefully they will too (or maybe that’s wishful thinking!) And, after all that, if they have been really good, tell them and maybe even reward them with a small treat or reward chart sticker!
And, if it does result in a tantrum or crying then it’s not the end of the world and everyone has been there.
PS it’s probably best not to mention the toy shop at the beginning of the trip, because to them it will be a LONG time until they get to visit and, once you have been, you can forget the rest of the shopping trip!