In a world where everything is on the go and digitized, parents are becoming more mindful of being present with their children.
Not all parents have the privilege to spend the whole day with their kids though. Working moms often only have a few special moments during the day to bond and connect with their little ones, and often a trip to the shops is one of these times.
“We have to spend as much quality time as we can with our children, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the floor playing a game. During the week, parents don’t have a lot of time to do this. So, we have to make quality time happen and create memories while on the run – whether it be in the car, in the trolley, in the queue at the supermarket, when you are bathing your children or while making supper,” says parenting expert Nikki Bush. If you count all the hours together, you spend more time with your children during these moments than on Fridays, weekends, public holidays and special celebrations. So it’s important to make these memorable connection opportunities.
How can you make shopping bearable for both you and your kids?
It’s important to engage with your children and create a happy, bonding experience for them. Having your toddler in a trolley while shopping offers not only potential family time, but also a key connection moment, says Nikki. “This is when we teach our children self-control and how to cope in a confined space. You also have the opportunity to have a conversation with your child while you are pushing her along.”
Nikki shares her 10 commandments for taking children to a shopping centre:
They key to children being calm in a shopping centre is to be focused and present with them. If your mind is on other things, your child will find a way to turn the focus on her, often misbehaving to get your attention.
“It’s easy to be with our kids physically, but it’s not always that easy to be emotionally present all the time,” says Nikki. Whether it’s 30 minutes or two hours spent shopping with your child, follow these tips for a fun, beneficial experience:
- Avoid rush hour. Any time after 5pm is not a good time to shop with kids.
- Shop after nap time. Children are much more relaxed and responsive to the experience when they are refreshed.
- Work the trip to the shops into your child’s normal routine. Your child will be much more manageable and responsive.
- Never take a hungry child shopping. You’ll have a difficult toddler on your hands until you’ve found a place to eat.
- Always have a snack and something to drink in your handbag. This will prevent you from buying instant often unhealthy options, such as fizzy, sugar-laden drinks.
- Take your partner, a family member or a friend with you. This will make shopping much easier – especially if you have more than one child.
- Plan your route strategically. You’ll avoid wasting time by going back and forth in a shopping centre.
- Take a break if it’s a marathon shop. Breaks are important as they allow children to not feel overstimulated and handle the experience better.
- Set the boundaries and rules before you arrive at the shopping centre. Give your children a breakdown of what they can expect to happen while you are there. This will help them to behave in the best possible way.
- Be the boss. Guide your children through the experience. Engage with them so that they feel comfortable and confident knowing you are in control.