Some of these may seem obvious, but they did not occur to me before a friend told me… and frankly changed my life.
1) BRING SNACKS – Inevitably I’ll find that my errand-running ends up running right into lunch time. No matter how much I rush out of the house after the baby’s morning nap, it always takes an amazingly long time to physically leave the house. Next thing I know I’m only halfway done at Target, and still have to hit the grocery store, and I look down at my watch and it’s 12:30.
Just keep it simple and clean, like O’s cereal, cut up apple, baby food pouches (yes, yes, I know… I knocked these in my Baby Led Weaning post), or little crackers. I try to keep it healthy, but for my shopping sanity once a week I’ll give in a little.
2) FIND A “TOY” TO OCCUPY THEM – If I’m at a store that has toys, sometimes I’ll let him hold on to one while I shop around. But I’ve found that even just the crinkly packaging from the socks works great, plus it’s not as annoying to fellow shoppers as a loud musical dinosaur.
Once I get to the grocery store, the can of coffee is the the best distract-er ever. We buy whole bean coffee so it makes a shake-a-shake-a sound, and it’s not as easy to throw out of the cart as, say, my shopping list (which spends the majority of it’s time on the grocery store floor).
3) PAY ATTENTION… THIS ONE CHANGED MY LIFE! PARK BY THE CART CORRAL – This is the one that seems so obvious, yet it didn’t occur to me until a friend told me. First of all, if there’s a cart in there waiting for you, then you can just plop your babe in it right then and there, instead of fussing with it in the middle of the store entryway. Second of all, when you go back out to your car you don’t have the moral dilemma of either leaving your kid in the car while you return the cart, or making your kid sit in the cart on a cold/hot day just so they can go with you to return the cart. Seriously people, I may be easily amused, but I cannot explain to you what a game changer this one was.
4) LAST BUT NOT LEAST, LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR – Being a parent leaves no time to get embarrassed by things. If all else fails to keep my little ones occupied while shopping, playing silly little games with them makes it seem like play time, not errand time. Even just doing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, or playing Peek-A-Boo, will buy me some serious time. But beware it can also get you some serious looks. Just remember, they would rather experience a silly parent than a screaming child.
Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that there are days that NOTHING in anyone’s arsenal is going to make your shopping-with-baby experience pleasant. And they’ll get cranky, and they’ll cry, and you’ll finish your shopping and life will go on. But hopefully you are at least parked close to the cart return so that you can make a fast escape.