Holiday season is shopping season and for many parents that also means a sharp increase in stress levels. It is time to drag the kids through crowded stores full of other short-tempered, stressed out parents with their ill-behaved over-tired children.
Okay, maybe it is not quite that bad but we all could use a little planning and a few nice parenting tips for that trip to the store.
- Set some rules before you leave the house. Make sure those rules are easy to understand. Give them a quick play-by-play of how the trip will go from the time you set foot in the store to buckling up that seat-belt back in the car. Kids like to know what's coming up so let them know. Tell them to stay by your side, or let them know that you need them to help find a gift each for their aunt.
- Reward good behavior by offering a small budget for them to pick something for themselves or offer some other incentive for sticking to the game plan. Remember to make sure they know this is a bonus for good behavior and that not following the rules does mean you can back out of the deal.
- If you're taking small children with you then make sure they eat and take care of business before you leave the house. Bring a snack along with you because that quick trip to the store can easily turn into a long drive through heavy traffic and long wait at the checkout. Few things set a toddler into a downward spiral like hunger and thirst so cover your bases.
- Bring a toy, pencil and paper or something to entertain them just in case. Even think about having them write the shopping list and make them in charge of crossing things off as you pick them up.
- Remember to keep your cool, sometimes finding ways to engage and keep your kids occupied and happy can help you reduce your own levels of stress. Having a game plan, even if it does not go perfect, is bound to make the trip a lot better for everyone.