Lessen the Holiday Stress: Tips for Shopping with Young Children

Lessen the Holiday Stress: Tips for Shopping with Young Children
Image: NCCC
October 31, 2014

If the retail holiday decorations are any indication, the shopping season is upon us. For some, it's already started.

A survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) found that 35 percent of shoppers will begin their holiday shopping by the end of October. This shopping, no doubt, will sometimes require toting around young children, quickly adding to your escalating holiday stress.

Here are some tips to help you keep your sanity in the stores.

Shop According to Their Schedule: A tired and hungry child makes for a cranky child. Much like yourself, your child shouldn't go shopping while hungry. If flexibility allows, make sure they eat and nap before hitting the store. Knowing your child's limits will help as well. If you know that after an hour your little one becomes bored and fussy, limit your trip to that time span.

Make a List: The more organized you are, the quicker your trip will be. Stay focused on what you need and don't deviate. If you know the grocery store like the back of your hand, organize your list by department so you're not running from one end of the store to another. If you know you're going to get bombarded with in-store requests, ask your child to help you make the list before you head to the store. Your child will feel included in the task and it will be easier for you to turn down impulse desires.

Fill the Boredom: Boredom can turn a happy child into a fussy child in no time. Incorporate games or learning activities into the trip. A grocery store is filled with words and numbers; take advantage of the space and practice reading and counting. If your child is old enough, let them help by finding items on your list or crossing them off as you go along.

Break up the Trip: If you're at the mall and have to make multiple stops, try to do something your child will enjoy between each store. Most malls have an indoor playground or carousel. Make a stop for a few minutes of playtime or grab a snack at the food court. This may extend your trip so make sure you build in extra time to avoid a big rush home.

Hit the Sales Alone: During the holiday season, there are a ton of sales worth braving the mall. Big sales often attract large crowds of people, which can be overwhelming for small children. If you can avoid bringing your child, this would be the time to leave your little one at home. Call a friend, family member or hire a babysitter and make the trip yourself.