One of the biggest challenges I faced as a new Mom of two, was bringing both of my kids shopping, by myself. Shopping with a toddler and an infant was something I really dreaded, and I put it off for months. As I do about pretty much everything in life, I feared the worst. I thought they would be just awful, and I would come home feeling worn out and completely embarrassed.
One day, I finally decided that I was tired of being stuck inside the house. I am an introvert, so most days this does not usually bother me, but there are some days when I just need to get out of the house.
I have to plan everything I do out ahead of time, and shopping with a toddler and an infant was no different. I knew there were certain things I could do to prepare for our trip to the store, that would hopefully make it a little less stressful for everyone, and sure enough, it worked! Our shopping trips have been pretty uneventful so far, and I owe it all to these great tips that I use every time.
- Make sure both kids have napped. Toddlers and infants get very cranky when they haven’t napped, and they are more likely to become fussy in the store. Making sure both kids are well rested before you head out to the store is an absolute must. They will be less likely to act out if they have had a nap.
- Make sure both kids have been fed. Feeding your kids right before you leave the house is just as important as making sure they have taken a nap. Kids get “hangry” very easily, and if you are going to a store that’s full of yummy food, they will want everything in sight if they haven’t eaten recently. That will surely lead to some major melt-downs, and embarrassing moments for you.
- Babywear. Wearing your infant in a carrier (I love my Boba 4-G!) while shopping has a couple of advantages. First, your baby will feel more calm and comfortable while out in public, if they are close to you, and second, you will have more room in your cart for your purchases. Another advantage, is that you will also have your hands free to take care of your toddler when necessary. Your toddler should be placed securely in the front seat of the cart. Now is not the time to let them test out their independence by letting them walk with you. You will likely end up chasing them around the store the whole time if you do that.
- Make an organized list and stick to it. Shopping with a toddler and an infant will be a lot easier if you have a list of things you need to get. I group items on my list together by department – dairy, meat, produce, canned goods, etc. This way, I can get everything I need quickly from each department, and not have to walk back and forth all over the store trying to get everything on my list.
- Shop at all-in-one stores like Super Walmart or Target. If you need to get more than just groceries, try to shop at one store that has everything you need. Taking the kids out to multiple stores in one trip is just asking for a disaster.
- Avoid “Eye-Candy” Stores. Try to avoid stores that have an overwhelming amount of eye-catching goodies all in once place, like party stores or dollar stores. The one time (and only!) time I took Kayleigh into a dollar store, she wanted EVERYTHING she saw. I now save those trips for when I am alone. I can take my time trying to find what I need, without a toddler trying to grab everything in the store.
- Keep your toddler distracted/entertained. If your toddler is bored, they are more likely to act out while shopping. Keep them entertained by asking them to recite the alphabet, numbers, sing a song, etc. You can also ask them to point out different colors or items they see in the store. For example, “Kayleigh, what do you see that’s red?” “What kind of vegetable is this, Kayleigh?”
- Avoid Trigger Aisles. Try to avoid aisles that will excite your toddler, such as candy aisles or cookie aisles. Save those purchases for another time if you can. If you absolutely must have something from those aisles, try to walk through them as quickly as you possibly can, before you toddler has a chance to throw a tantrum over something that catches their eye.
- Avoid Checkouts with Candy. If you go through a checkout line with candy in it, your little one is going to want candy. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Try to go through the lines with something boring, like magazines, that they won’t have any interest in.
- Shop During Slow Hours. Weekends, and 5-7pm during the week are not the best times to take your kids shopping. Those hours are the busiest hours for stores, from what I have seen. When I take my kids out to the store, I like to do it first thing in the morning, when most people are at work. I find the stores are usually a lot slower during this time, and my kids are more relaxed.
Park as close to a cart corral as you can. This will allow you to quickly and easily move your toddler from car to cart and back!