Keep an eye on the clock
“Plan shopping trips to occur when your children (and you!) are well rested,” says Candi Wingate of Nannies4hire. And avoid stores during peak shopping times and weekends. You know how cranky you can get with long lines and pushy crowds -- imagine how your young child feels!
Mother-of-two Jennifer Marshall takes her kids to do something fun in the morning, returns home for a nap and then heads out for the stores after they wake up. "They feel a lot better about being strapped into a stroller when they have already had a fun day," says Marshall. "They can sit back and people watch for a couple of hours before getting antsy again."
Keep your child informed
Before setting foot in the store, explain to your children what you expect from them. Let them know that they should be in the stroller or cart or holding your hand while you shop.
Also, tell your children how many stops you plan to make. Kids behave best when they know what to expect. If possible, make the final stop one that will be rewarding for your child, such as an ice cream shop or the pet store.
Keep your cool
Don’t go shopping until you’re in the right mood, Mom. Kids can sense when you’re uptight and it makes them antsy. "If you expect your children to be calm while shopping, then you yourself must remain calm," says Wingate, "even if you are surrounded by chaos."
Keep them fed
Make sure your children eat before you leave the house and bring along a favorite (un-messy) snack that they can eat while you shop.
Cait DeStefano relies on lollipops. When her 4-year-old and 18-month-old sons start getting tired, she prevents a meltdown with lollipops. "Lollipops keep their hands busy so they can't touch stuff and their mouths busy so they can't nag," says DeStefano, who can then enjoy at least 15 more minutes of shopping time."
Keep them interested
You don’t want your children to put up a fight every time you strap them in their car seats, so don’t make every shopping trip a chore. Plan some shopping outings that focus on the kids: story time at the book store, a half an hour at the mall’s play center (bring hand sanitizer!) and a visit to McDonald’s.
Keep it in perspective
It won’t be long before your whiny, restless toddler is a whiny, restless teenager, so enjoy them while you can!