Five Tricks to Survive Shopping with Your Toddler, and Graco Get One Give One #7

holiday-shoppingIt’s 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting with KK in the middle of Cumberland Mall, sharing a smoothie and celebrating a job well done.

We’ve just wrapped up Christmas shopping for Dad and the grandparents, and while this may sound like no big deal (it’s still two plus weeks until Christmas), it truly is a triumph of modern parenting to complete a multi-store, multi-hour shopping spree in a packed mall with a three year old without temper tantrums, misplaced purses, losing your child, or losing your mind.

How does one manage this, you might ask? We all know the basics: feed and water your tot before leaving the house, schedule shopping after nap and before the next meal, and remember snacks and frequent potty breaks.

You can google “shopping with a toddler” and read through an assortment of articles that list out top ten ways to shop successfully with a little one and read over the basics in depth. What I’m about to share with you are my own personal tricks for not only surviving a shopping trip and making it home with everything you set out to purchase, but also how I find joy and excitement in this frequently dreaded experience.

Trick #1: Create a vibe. This is something I started with my oldest daughter, Emmers, when she was a baby: shopping trips get soundtracks. We’d pop in a CD (this was ten years ago, okay) of something lively and sing and dance all the way to the store. It’s a great way to be loud, expend excess engery, and create a positive and pleasant mood before hitting the store. KK’s musical selections for this particular trip: Fireflies by Owl City, Love Story by Taylor Swift, and Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti.

holiday-shopping2Trick #2: Plan a treat for good behavior. I never tell the girls if there will be a treat beforehand, and since they don’t always get one, they aren’t expecting it, but they do know that treats usually show up after exceptionally good behavior. In this case, the treat (sharing a smoothie) was a reward for incredibly mature behavior in DSW. KK sat quietly on a bench as I purused the aisles and then accepted, without fuss, “no” as the answer to her request for a coin purse that she saw at checkout (KK’s next question: “Can I add it to my list for Santa?” Mom: “Absolutely”).

Trick #3: Ask them for help. I always tell the girls what we’re looking for when we are shopping, and then ask them to help me find it or ask for their opinions. I also ask them to help me navigate the store (for Emmers this entails having her reference signage and store maps) or create a problem that they need to solve (“KK, I can’t find pink leggings in your size…what do we do now?”). It’s a great way to exercise their problem solving skills, help them gain familiarity and comfort with the shopping experience, and encourage them to  express their own opinions and tastes.

Trick #4: Be flexible. You know what your child can handle, and you know what you have patience for. Don’t set unrealistic or extreme goals for these outings, and be flexible and ready to deal with the unexpected. KK and I set out on Saturday morning with one goal: finish shopping for Dad’s presents. We also managed to shop for the grandparents, but that was a bonus and the result of a little luck (thin crowds, good parking spot, the right size and color available). The experience would have been completely different if fate had conspired to have us walk a mile in the rain only to find that everything we needed was sold out.

Trick #5: Travel lightly. I know we are all in the habit of traveling with massive amounts of stuff, but if your toddler is potty trained, shopping expeditions should be taken with a minimum of equipment. Consolidate the contents of your purse – just carry the essentials in a small bag, or better yet, in your pocket. Minimize the layers of outerwear since the stores are so warm you’ll be stuck carrying them anyway. KK and I hit the mall with just our outer coats and I had all of my gear (phone, keys, cards) in a small clutch that fit in my coat pocket. We didn’t have to worry about misplaced security items, hefting around a loaded purse, or my having to carry KK’s scarf, hat, gloves, and coat.

I enjoy shopping with my daughters, and I like to think they enjoy shopping with me. As Emmers has grown up, I have seen how these tricks have continued to make our shopping trips enjoyable and efficient.

I love how we can change the dynamic of shopping from a task to be accomplished to an experience to be shared and enjoyed, especially as it becomes a part of our family tradition during the joyous and meaningful holiday season.

backlessturboAnnnnnd, Today’s Graco GOGO is a backless Turbobooster, which helps transport your “big kid” from 40-100 lbs. Top rated and rigorously crash-tested, this cute and comfy seat helps protect your child by raising him up to the proper height for the seat belt.

Comment below on who you would donate this product to, and you could win one for you and for them! For more info on the Graco Get One Give One program, click here! 

Today’s contest ends at 6 PM – check back daily for additional chances to win and donate.



**UPDATE: Congratulations to JACKIE – You’re our winner!! We will e-mail you to get your address and send you your prize! Thanks for playing everyone – Check back tomorrow to see what our next GOGO product is going to be!**

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33 Responses to “Five Tricks to Survive Shopping with Your Toddler, and Graco Get One Give One #7”

  1. beth December 17, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    these booster seats would be great! i know my cousing is using an usafe booster seat for her son in her van. the other would be great since my son is almost out of his car seat!

  2. Cameron December 17, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    My parents could really use this since they have a few grandkids too big for the car seat they own… but not big enough to be safe without one.

  3. Marina December 17, 2009 at 10:50 am #

    I would use one myself and give one to my sister in law

  4. Denisse December 17, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    I’d love one for me and one for my friend, they are having a hard time financially and need a booster so their almost 4-year-old can pass on her old car seat to their 14-month-old who has long ago outgrown her infant seat but still using it :(

  5. Jill December 17, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    Nice! I would donate one to my husband! Does that count? LOL That way we wouldn’t have to share it for pick up and drop off at daycare! Thanks graco!

  6. Gayle December 17, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    Great Advice! I’m only 22 weeks pregnant so I have no clue what it’s like to shop with a toddler! I do have to say I love all your tips but I really like #1: Create a vibe, & #2: Plan a treat for good behavior. I told my husband I don’t want are kids to think just because we’re going to the store that means a TOY for them! With your Tip I think Planing a treat for good behavior is an awesome idea!!! Thanks for the advice!!!

    I would love to win this “big kid” seat but it will be while before I get to use it so today I’m just posting a comment to the Blog as a reader =)

    Thanks again for the great advice!
    gayle (twitter: @GaylePlusONE)

  7. Laura DeLuca December 17, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    My son is just getting ready for booster seats so this would be great-THe second I would like to give to my church for families in need

  8. Kristin W December 17, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Since my ladybug is growing up so quickly, I’ll need one of these soon enough!

    I’d also donate one to my friend (and daycare provider!) Tami as she is expecting her first child.

  9. Aura December 17, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    oh this booster would be so convenient for car pool and I would have the 2nd one donated to my parents who are always chauffeuring grandkids around and they don’t own a booster

  10. Anne December 17, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    I would donate this to my goddaughter who is fighting with her parents tooth and nail to sit in her old booster that is getting too small. Coming from her “cool aunt” she might sit it in better!!!

  11. Megan December 17, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    I have a feeling I’ll need this for my 2 year old sooner than later. I’d have the second one donated to a local women’s shelter that helps victims of domestic violence.

  12. Deb - Mom of 3 Girls December 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    Great tips – thanks! :)

    I would donate this to the family that my oldest daughter’s Brownie troop ‘adopted’ this holiday season. It’s a single mother with three kids aged 4 and under – she’s going to need booster seats in the near future if not already.

  13. Jillian December 17, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    I would like to donate one to my mother in law who babysits on a regular basis. The other one would be great for my daughter!

  14. Kay December 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    I would give one to my daughter her little girl will need one eventually.

  15. Kathleen December 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    This would be great to have when my son outgrows his car seat. I’d give the other one to my friend who lost her job and whose husband’s health insurance just went up exponentially. They’re really trying hard to make ends meet and could use this for their little girl.

  16. Kristy December 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    I would love one myself & would give one to my mother who has 10 grandkids!

  17. pamela ~ the dayton time December 17, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    I would donate one to a local not-for-profit called All Babies Cherished. They accept donations of clothing and baby/children related items, then they gift the items to families in need. Car seats is one thing that they can’t reuse, so I know this would bless them!

  18. Tami December 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    I would give one to my brother, he is a father of 3..two are twins. they are all going to be in booster seats together for awhile, they are going to need quite a few of them!

  19. Kelly December 17, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    I would love to donate one to a family in need. I would find the family through the A.W. “Tony” Mathews Boys and Girls Club so it would help someone in my area.

    The one for me – well it’ll be useful as the toddler just keeps growing (33 lbs now!). So we’ll soon need the booster for her and her seat will become her sisters.

  20. melissa December 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    i need one of these for my 5-year-old and I’d give the other one to my niece, who is just about to outgrow her booster!

  21. michelle rosborough December 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I’d give this to my SIL

  22. Sara December 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    I would give it to my mom, my son is just about to out-grow the one she has in her car for him and I wouldn’t want her to spend her money on that. (I will buy her one if I can’t win it! ;) )

  23. Jess December 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    I would give it to my mother, who always has one of my older boys.

  24. Vanessa December 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    If I won, I would like to give this away to the local car seat safety group. I only have a two year old so I would give them both away.

  25. Christa December 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    This carseat would be perfect for my little brother, he’s growing out of his old one and we need one that’s easier to switch from car to car!

  26. Gretchen December 17, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    The car seat would be prefect for us in a couple of years! I would give one to my best friend due on Christmas day.. she will need it before she knows it!!!

  27. Jackie December 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    I would totally give this to my sister for my nephew! He is getting to be so big and with them being a military family they could really use the help since they don’t get paid much. I would also donate my Get One to her as well for another needy military family. My sister networks with a lot of wives and families and I know she could find another family who could really use a safe car booster seat for their growing child!

  28. Amy Franklin December 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    I would love one of these for myself because I have a 3 1/2 year old who is in need of a change from her convertable carseat to a newer one and I’d give one my my Aunt who does foster care and are currently taking care of a five year old and could really use the seat.

  29. Jason December 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    We have 4 children, so I know my daughter would love this seat, and as the pastor of a small rural church, we have a young family that attends that do not have a lot of money, and this would be perfect for them.

    Thanks for the opportunity and for a friend emailing this site to my family!

  30. Andrea Kruse December 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    I know that I will need this before I know it for my oldest and I would donate the other one to Safe Haven where a Mom and family in need would benefit from it.

  31. The Jacobsen Family December 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    We could absolutely use this for my son! The other I would give to a local organization called the Child Crisis Center, which provides temporary shelter in a nurturing environment for children whose well-being is in jeopardy.

  32. Beth December 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    I would give the donated one to UVA Children’s Hospital. I am sure they could easily find a family with a child being treated who could really use this!

  33. Krista Ferkovich April 2, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    very good publish, i certainly love this web site, carry on it