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Sawyer’s first ride in the shopping cart.

When we had our first little boy I was grateful to be home with him, but typically a big part of us having a successful day was getting out of the house for a bit. When you’re trying to get out a little each day and most activities for children cost money those outings can add up quick. Parks are always free, but we could only do that for so long before the gnats attack. So what’s a mom to do to preserve her sanity?

Why, window shopping of course. It allowed us to be out in public and not feel isolated, and we were able to pass the time until we got ready for naps.

Now as an adult window shopping can be fun. However, for many parents shopping with their kids is quite the opposite. For the most part, we’ve had pleasant shopping experiences with our kids, and while I realize we’ve only been at this parenting thing for a few years here are a few things that have worked for us along the way.

Avoid Marketing

We don’t have cable so he’s not exposed to all the commercials telling him about the latest and greatest toys that he can’t live without.

Set Low Expectations

To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never given in to a spontaneous purchase at his request. Since he doesn’t anticipate getting anything he has learned to be content, and if he ever does get an unexpected treat it will just be a nice surprise instead of an expectation.

Pay Attention

Now that he has become more verbal I don’t think it is fair to just ignore his requests. Instead as we pass by stuff I will acknowledge all the things that he is identifying, agree that they are indeed pretty cool looking and affirm his increased vocabulary.

Let Them Help

Whether it’s smelling all the candles to help you pick the perfect scent or putting your items on the conveyor belt at check out just keeping them engaged in the process helps them feel less trapped and more like an active participant.

Keep Them Occupied

When we go down an aisle and he sees something that interests him I’ll put it in the cart for him to explore. It is usually a ball or something small and simple. He gets the pleasure of enjoying it while we shop, and I get the pleasure of not having one more thing cluttering up my home. When it is time to leave I have him put the item back and explain to him about being thankful to the store for letting him borrow it.

Test Drive Gifts

If there is something that we’re considering purchasing for him for a special occasion we will have him try it out at the store to see if he really shows any interest in the item.

I know there are plenty of you more seasoned than me in this department so what tricks have you employed to make shopping with your children more enjoyable?

Happy cart rides with both boys these days.

Happy cart rides with both boys these days.