Taking children on a day out at the mall can become an adventure. On the bright side, you get to witness their smiles and hear their laughter from genuine happiness they get from the fun mall activities they experience. On the other hand, it can be a bit frustrating when things turn for the worse unexpectedly (e.g., temper tantrums) and you came unprepared.
To make sure you enjoy more of the brighter side of mall-going with your kids, you must plan the trip ahead. With careful planning and these five tips, you should be able to take the stress out of the activity.
1. Don’t let the kids go hungry
Having an empty stomach is a big no-no when on a trip to the store, especially with children.
If you ever tried going to the grocers to buy one missing ingredient, only to come out with a cart full of items, then you’ve experienced first-hand why going shopping while hungry is highly discouraged. This is also true when you take the kids on a day out in the mall.
Taking kids shopping without eating first is a recipe for disaster, as hunger can make all of you impatient. Besides your own crabby mood, you’ll also have to deal with cranky children.
To avoid this, be sure to time your shopping following a meal. After breakfast or lunch is the most ideal, but you can also schedule an early dinner and shop in the evening instead.
Also, avoid setting the trip before dinner or right after work. These are the times of day when bellies are empty, and the stores are full.
If that’s not possible, remember to bring snacks in a resealable package for every person in the group. You can also plan to buy something to eat as you shop, like trail mix or an energy bar.
2. Create a detailed shopping plan
Besides food, you also need to create a more detailed plan when shopping with the kids.
Bringing children along can be quite distracting and may cause you to forget the purpose of the trip or, at the very least, one or two items you set out to buy. For this reason, be sure to list it all down on a piece of paper or a virtual notepad on your phone if you plan to buy household necessities.
Organize your list based on the store’s layout as much as possible. This will help you prioritize which store to visit first. You can also begin your shopping at a one-stop-shop where you can get everything on your shopping list in one go. Then, proceed to other stores that may have the items you weren’t able to procure at the first shop you went to.
This way, you can return home and feel like you’ve accomplished the majority of your shopping, even if the kids begin acting unruly.
3. Do the boring part first
Whether or not you’ve been a parent for years, you probably know that children can get bored very easily. This is particularly true if they have no interest in what you’re doing, which is one of the things most likely to happen when you go to the mall to run some errands.
To remedy this, be sure to accomplish the “boring” part of the trip first. This can include shopping for pet food, groceries, and paper products.
You can then save the fun stuff (like buying ice cream or shopping for gifts) later for your kids to look forward to.
4. Steer clear of crowds
Most shopping malls offer plenty of activities for kids to keep them happy and preoccupied as you do your shopping. But whatever the case, you should never bring them into crowded places.
Children and crowds don’t mix well, so bring your kids to shop for their clothing and shoes as soon as the store opens on weekdays. This way, you can ensure that fewer people are going where you’re headed, and your kids will still have the willingness and energy to cooperate.
It is also best to follow up your shopping for your kids’ supplies with a visit to cookie shops to reward their good behavior.
5. Consider your kids’ ages
While the first few tips definitely work for children of all ages, it would be better to consider the age of the children you have in tow when preparing for a mall trip.
When going to the mall with an infant, you must time your visit right around their nap time.
As the baby sleeps, you can strap him to a stroller or baby carrier as you explore the aisles. The latter is most recommended as it would leave your hands free to do other things while still keeping your little one tucked securely to your chest.
Of course, you can always ask for help. Bringing a baby to the store will make more people willing to help you out. You can even ask the store’s staff for assistance in loading your car during non-peak hours.
Always bring toys and other entertaining items when you have a toddler in tow. These will ensure that your tot has things to occupy his eyes and hands with while you roam around the mall. Bring items with clips and strings that can be attached to the stroller or shopping cart to keep them from getting dropped as you go along.
Don’t Stress Out
Mall shopping with kids can become an appealing task when you prepare for it ahead of time. Keep the tips in this article in mind to take the stress out of the activity.
Hisham Elzubeir is the Marketing Manager at Doha Festival City, the largest entertainment, fashion, dining and shopping destination in Qatar. The mall has more than 400 international and local brands, including some of the most anticipated names, many of which made their Qatar debut, such as Harvey Nichols, Charlotte Tilbury, Kiehl’s, Dior Beauty Boutique, ACE and IKEA. Hisham brings over 15 years of international expertise to the communications team at Doha Festival City.