shopping and waiting. with kids.

A few weeks ago, I was in the dressing room at Target. Across the way, in the “family” dressing room was a mom with two small children. She was doing her best, but those kids were seriously high maintenance – not misbehaved, just high maintenance. She was having difficult time trying on clothes with “mom. mommy? momma?” and all the questions, requests and care that goes with two toddlers in a dressing room.

She was frustrated.

She and I came out of our dressing rooms at the same time and I was compelled.

Me: “I don’t mean to intrude, but I’ve been in your shoes, trying to shop with little ones and I have an idea for you.”


Me: “When my kids were little, the first thing I always did when going into a store was head straight to the toy department and let them pick out a few toys to occupy them while I shopped. Usually something electronic gave me the most time in the store. The best part was that almost every time, they got BORED with that toy and didn’t even try to get me to buy it when we were finished. And when they DID still want something after playing with it, I knew they REALLY wanted it. I didn’t always buy it that day, but I had ideas for gifts.”

Her: “What a GREAT idea!”

Me: “It really works! They actually saw it as a treat.

Other times, when my daughter was tired, I’d find a throw pillow for the large part of the basket and a towel to drape over the top. I can’t tell you how many times I walked around a store with a kid sound asleep in the basket under a towel. It looked strange, but it worked! When I was finished shopping, I would just fold the towel back up and put the pillow back.”

Her: “Thank you so much! I’m going to the toy department.”

I saw her a few minutes later and she was back in the women’s clothing department. Each kid had a toy.

It is SOOO much easier to engage and distract a child than to get them to sit still and be quiet.

At restaurants, we always brought in coloring books and crayons (we did it tonight, as a matter of fact), action figures, anything to keep them busy. We’ve been playing hangman at restaurant tables for years. When we wait in lines, we play I Spy and 20 Questions. We used to make up stories where each person continues a part of the story and we still love to play “Who Said It? from movies and TV.

I don’t know about you but, my kids can be high maintenance. And loud. They like to ask questions and laugh. And it’s sometimes very hard for them to sit still for long periods of time. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but these are a few strategies we’ve employed over the years.

What do you do with kids in similar situations?

*(To follow-up/clarify – I’m not talking about loud, misbehaving kids or tantrums, that’s a whole other topic altogether and I agree with my first two commenters completely! I’m just talking about normal volume talking and questions. We engage in conversations with grown-ups and don’t think twice about it, but we often make kids sit still and be quiet while waiting and shopping. It always seemed unnecessary to us. And I’m mostly talking about little kids – up to the time they can read – after that, hangman was always the game of choice for us!)

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

4 thoughts on “shopping and waiting. with kids.

  1. Okay, You’re going to think we’re crazy but we actually train them to not be loud and obnoxious in public and they actually listen. LOL. So much that we’ve actually had people in restaurants stop and tell us how well behaved our children are. Our youngest are 7 and 4 and both boys. We really don’t have to tell our 15 year old daughter to be good! LOL.
    Crazy huh? LOL
    But I like your tactics too!

  2. I never had to deal with more than one kiddo at a time, so didn’t have the troubles you and the other mom did. Only once do I remember DD attempting a temper tantrum in a store, and I just walked around to the next aisle and ignored her. (This was before so many store abductions, of course!) Without an audience, she gave it up.

    But I will pass on your hint to anyone I meet who is dealing with the same problem!

  3. Excellent, realistic tips.
    My husband and I got through quite a few dinners out with our younger kids firmly absorbed in their game boys. There are certainly some issues with those handheld electronics, but when it means just a few minutes of adult conversation when those are so rare, I think they’re worth their weight in gold.

    Now that they’re older, we enjoy bringing a deck of cards and play together as a family while we wait. It makes for great family time.

    Love the pillow/towel idea!

    Pam – LOVE the playing card idea! No bigger than a cell phone, easy to carry! And we love cards. Why don’t we play more?

    Cell phone games are a good waiting pastime too. Although I’ve been asked to get some new games on my phone. What? Doesn’t everybody have multiplication math games on their cell phone? (by JSM)

  4. My guys carry their library books with them and my artistic son likes to bring a sketch pad and pencil. I also allow them to bring a pocket figure–either Star Wars or Legos that they can play with while waiting. Oh, and lately Mad Libs have become a favorite thing to do as well.

    Elle – MAD Libs! I completely FORGOT about those! I used to LOVE them. I think we have a pad around here somewhere – Thanks for the reminder – I think my kids are at an age where we’ll really have fun with them.

    I often carry a “waiting” book myself and PinkGirl has more than a few composition books for song and poem writing. FavoriteSon carries his itouch around these days but he is kind enough to share and play two player games. (by JSM)

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