Friday, May 20, 2011

5 Steps to Survive Target with a Little One

...or Wal-mart or any store for the most part.  

I try to do most of my errands on one day during the week.  This week, however, (due to my involvement in a nursery renovation at our church) I have lost track how many times I've been to Target - sad, but true.  So, I may not be an expert (especially considering I only have one child), but I feel like I really know how to make it through Target only getting what is on my list and without a child who is screaming from beginning to end.  Here's what I've learned so far...

  • Make a list, even if it’s “just a few things” (I’m known for saying this).  If you know your store well enough then make your list according to where each item is located. 
  • Decide where to park.  If your store has two entrances, figure out ahead of time which entrance makes the most sense to park closest to. 
  • Select your mode of transportation – not for how to get to the store, but rather for while you are in the store.  Stroller, shopping cart, or cadillac shopping cart (you know, those huge ones that multiple children can ride in)?  Consider what is on your list and what your children can handle.  My son enjoys riding in the big part of the shopping cart, so if I can fit everything around him then I do it!
  • Avoid areas that are a weakness for your children, if at all possible.  Toys, books, movies, clothes, video games, whatever it may be – try to stay as far away from those areas as possible. 
  • Avoid areas that are a weakness for you.  If I can admit it, so can you.  Mine are the dollar spot and clothing clearance racks (in pretty much any department).  If you want to get out quick and with only what’s on your list, just don’t go there. 
  •  Little helper.  Let you child be a little helper by handing over the list for safekeeping or hand items to your child to then place in the cart (I do this all the time in the grocery store – except with the eggs!).
  • Hide and seek.  Try playing a game while going throughout the store, such as list hide and seek.  Say what the next item is on the list and have your child start looking for it. 
  • I spy.  Look ahead to see what you will be passing by.  Pretty much any store is great for playing I Spy.   
  • Keep moving. Recognize when children get restless and just keep moving.  Even if it means you do a couple of laps up and down a few aisles, sometimes it helps! 
  • Musical Chairs.  Switch seats.  Walking, riding, hanging off the side of the cart – whatever you feel comfortable with!
  • Last resort. If you sense your crew is growing restless, steer your ship to the book section.  This has saved me more than once.  The opportunity to pick out one new book just to look at (not to buy) for a few minutes may just be enough to get you to the end of your shopping adventure. 
  • Plan shopping trips on days when there’s nothing else going on.  I try to avoid any major shopping trips on already full days, not only for the sake of my son, but also for me!  If it’s already been a long, frustrating morning, how patient am I really going to be with him while trying to get everything on my list in Target? 
  • Shopping with your children is good for them.  Yes, it’s easier to do your shopping without the kids, but it’s also valuable for kids to learn how to behave in a store (even though they won’t always be perfect).  If you have more than one child, just bring one and leave the others with dad or grandparents. 

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