Christmas shopping is difficult already. You’ve got a list of people to buy for, a bunch of ideas that suddenly don’t seem to work and a ton of things that need to be done before the holiday gets here—and it’s getting closer every minute. Once you add the kids in with everything else, you’ve got a recipe for a cocktail of holiday stress, anxiety and aggravation. Here’s how to survive holiday shopping with the kids, and still keep most of your wits intact.
Consider a Tag Team Assault
If possible, don’t go shopping with the kids alone. Even if you only have one child to look after while you shop, you’re sort of outnumbered. Try to get another adult who also needs to do some shopping, and have them bring their kids along. That extra set of hands is a true lifesaver in any shopping situation. Ask around among your friends, neighbors, co-workers and other moms, and see if you can find a shopping buddy.
Plan Your Day
Where are you going to shop? Make sure you know the terrain before you leave home. Take some time to get online and look up the layout of the strip mall, the outlet mall, the department stores or anywhere else you’re planning to go shopping. Find out where the bathrooms are, where the food can be found and where the stores are that you want to visit.
You may even be able to get an app that has a layout of the place where you want to shop. Otherwise, you can always print out a map or floor plan and bring it with you. Knowing where the bathroom is at all times is a big help when you’re shopping with kids, and sometimes you’re going to need to get there quickly—so taking a map with you is just a good idea.
You should also plan for snack breaks and rest breaks. Kids are going to get bored and tired with shopping pretty quickly. Try to break up your day with times that allow them to eat and play a little. If you need to go to three stores that are close to the toy store, hit two of your stops and then let them play for 20 or 30 minutes in the toy store. Then, go to your next nearby stop before you go have a snack.
Keep a list of everyone you need to shop for and a list of gift ideas for each person, and keep it handy. If you’re going to survive this shopping trip, you’re going to have to stay organized. Make sure you have a list that you can update on the fly, so you don’t buy a gift for the same person twice. Know where all your credit cards and membership cards are, and make sure you can access them quickly so you don’t have to fumble around at checkout.
You’re going to be carrying stuff around all day, so start with a bag of distraction. Bring along snacks, drinks,activities and toys in a bag to give kids plenty of nourishment and plenty of stuff to do. When they begin to fuss, give them a distraction from the bag.
Survive Shopping with the Kids
Survive your holiday shopping this year by arming yourself with a good game plan, and maybe it won’t be as hard as you fear to finish that gift list. Shopping with the kids is always going to be a pain, but you can take some steps to make it a little bit more like a pleasure.