I have had so many emails asking how I manage to shop with kids. This puzzles me, because, as much as we would love a big family, we only have two little ones! Have I given people the wrong impression? The Mother's Day post below highlighted a week's worth of shopping, not a typical morning. Here are a few of my strategies for shopping with kids:
1. Hyper-punctuality: The museum shop was across the street from the pediatrician; we were half an hour ahead of schedule. It's more feasible to shop when it's not an outing unto itself.
2. Balance: Let your kids know that shopping's not all about you. Follow an errand with twenty minutes at a playground. After Belle Meade Plantation, we zipped into Phillips Toy Mart to see the Easter live bunny display.
3. Conversation: involve your kids in the shopping expedition. Are you buying a gift for a relative? Who can spot the first blue half-price tag? What is the silliest thing you see here?
4. Distraction: In thrift stores, I let Andrew pick a few books and read them as I push the cart. Now he sits in the basket and reads to Elise, which is great. We reshelve before leaving.
5. Play: Kids can't sit forever. I wear Elise in the sling or Baby Bjorn--she's comfy, and my hands are free. If other kids are having a ball in the toy section, I will let Andrew join the fun for a set number of minutes while I browse nearby. We make a point to leave the toy area cleaner than we found it.
6. Reward: If Andrew pines for an expensive toy, we add it to the Christmas/birthday list. When he spots a toy that is too great/cheap to leave, I buy it for our "family general store." As he earns points for chores and good deeds, he can spend points for tv time, computer time, or a small selection of toys. This program is working wonders, both behavior- and budget-wise.
Perhaps the other secret is that we usually frequent thrift stores instead of "regular" places. I'm one of those people who wonder how you make it through the mall with kids! And those very cute, highly breakable boutiques? Forget about it! Actually, Monica from Homespun Heart just pointed me to a great blog, Curious Sofa Diaries. It's like taking a behind-the-scenes shopping trip with tips from the owner herself!