10 Tricks For Keeping the Kids Entertained While Shopping in the Mall
When you are out shopping in the mall with kids, it can get a little emotional, for them and for you! Kids will be kids, so will wander, jump about, talk and do what any child would do, yet you can focus their energy and interest with the 10 tricks we have for you.
Create a special ‘shopping bag’ of simple things for young children that you can carry with you so that they do not get irritable. This can include things that you know absorb their interest and could include items like a mini etch-a-sketch, 4 Duplo bricks, an old mobile phone, a small picture book, a light-coloured crayon and small pad of paper and a beaker. Keep all the toys you have chosen in the bag at all times when they are not in use. Keep it close to the door so that every time you leave, you can grab it and go.
Be flexible with your schedule
Plan your trip to the mall taking into consideration the times that your kids usually take a nap or eat some food, so your visit is not upset by an exhausted or hungry child. At the same time, accept that you may have to curtail your trip or that it may take longer than expected.
A hungry child is a fractious child. Bring their favourite snack and if you expect to be out for a while, looking into the places to eat at the Mall, for toddler and children’s menus. The Play Farm at Brewery Quarter offers “free from” foods and soy milk alternatives for kids that are lactose intolerant. Allowing your kids to eat food at the mall that you do not eat at home is a special treat.
Kids behave better if they know what to expect, so prepare in advance. Let them know what your plan is and do your essential shopping first. It is also a good idea to remind your kids how you want them to behave in the mall before going inside.
… and expect the unexpected
It is impossible to predict how very young children in particular are going to behave when you are at the mall. This means that despite the best laid plans and preparations, your visit at the mall cannot be guaranteed to be exactly as you hoped for, so do not set yourself up for disappointment. Roll with events as they happen to avoid disappointment and keep your sense of humour. When all else fails, laugh.
There are some days that a trip to the mall just does not turn out to be the lovely experience you wanted. People may be looking at you, but what others think of you is none of your business, you know you are an awesome parent. If you are feeling judged, it is likely that those judging you are either childless or have forgotten the early years. Focus on your child, and keep going.
If you are grocery shopping, write out a list of items that your kids can look for and mark off their list. The lists can use pictures as well as words for those not yet of reading age. This can be an adventure for the kids and keeps them engaged. An alternative is to give your child a coupon and ask them to find the product on the shelf. Once you have the item, give them another coupon. This is a good way to introduce the concept of money to children.
Read your list to your kids and tell them that if it's not on the list, you aren't buying it and that is not negotiable.
Before you go food shopping, make sure your kids are not hungry. A snack will reduce the risk of hunger-induced tantrums. For very young children, a necklace of cheerios to munch on whilst sitting in the shopping cart seat can buy you a lot of time.
Use the shopping cart
If you have young kids and the store has shopping carts, use them to contain your kids, even if you are only buying a carton of milk and some bread. Tell them it's a race car and settle them inside with their bag of favourite toys.
Create a phrase
Make up a phrase that you always use while shopping that acts as a reminder to your kids that they need to behave. This stops you getting irritated, and when used consistently the kids will understand. Something simple like "If you cannot see me, I cannot see you" is a much calmer way to deal with children who wander in comparison to a repeated wail of “Come here!”
Praise the good
When your kids for are behaving well, acknowledge it. Praising their good behaviour reinforces it and they are more likely to keep to good behaviour.
Games are fun
You can challenge your children to a game when you are shopping. You can see how many people are wearing a green top in the store. Or you can challenge your kids to find three things smaller than their shoe.