We all love a bit of retail therapy, but when you're trying to do some serious shopping while simultaneously battling wayward prams, wobbly trolleys and wriggling tots, the experience can start to lose its appeal. Throw embarrassing tantrums (not just yours) into the mix and it's a wonder that parents and their children ever buy anything from a shop at all. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Follow our strategies to avoiding troublesome flashpoints and a shopping expedition can be a fun experience for the whole family (even for your tot).
Your toddler throws an über tantrum in the tinned foods aisle
Stay cool and calm and don't be drawn into your child's strong emotions. "Remember we've all been there," says Dr Maggie Redshaw, Pampers Village Parenting Panel baby development expert. "People are only staring at you because they're glad it's not their child this time. Make sure your child is safe and move away a little. "Ignore the tantrum as much as you possibly can, it'll calm down more quickly the less attention you give it."
Your child runs off in a busy mall
You can head this off at the pass by having a chat about the dangers of wandering off before you leave the house. "Talk about what behaviour is acceptable before you go out," says Roxanne Passmore-Rowe, Tinies' childcare expert. "Explain that she needs to stay close to you at all times. Giving your toddler little jobs, ssuch as carrying a small basket, will keep her interested and less likely to run off."
You've only just got to the shops when your toddler declares she is ready to go home now
"Set yourself reasonable goals," syas Maggie. "If parents push themselves and their children too hard then everyone ends up getting frazzled. make a shortlist of items you know you can buy quickly in case your trip is cut short. If you make sure your child is fed and rested before you leave the house and plan for toilet stops, she'll be able to shop for a little longer."
Your child is getting very bored
Children love pretending to do things moms and dads do, and shopping is no exception. Getting your little one involved helps. Make it fun for her. Make her feel she's helping you out by taking things up to the till and helping you decide what you want to buy.
Your tot refuses to leave the shop without you buying her a R500 doll
No one likes schlepping around the shops for hours and returning empty-handed - and that goes for toddlers too. But it doesn't mean that you have to buy your child something every single time you go out shopping. "It's a hard lesson to learn that you can't have everything you want," says Maggie. "Calmly explain she can't have the toy and cheer her up by letting her join in the shopping in another way. Ask her to help pick out a present for daddy and she'll learn shopping can be fun, even when it's not all about 'me, me, me'."
Your child makes a beeline for a display of fragile ornaments
Generally, children are more interested in brightly coloured toys than delicate ornaments in shop displays, but it's always wise to pack some toys in your bag to distract your little one with, just in case. "Children can be unpredictable, so it;s best to avoid going to shops with lost of delicate objects at low levels," says Roxanne. "Point out something your child will find more interesting and keep talking to her until she forgets about the ornaments, and you can lead her away without a fight."
Your tot announces she really needs the toilet now, while you're in a fancy shop
Before headin gout, plan your route and make a note of where there are toilets and convenient places to feed. "Parents must always be prepared," advises Roxanne. "Check on the internet, or ask at the information desk at a shopping centre to avoid being caught short."
Your little angels embark on an almighty great argument
"Try to work out what's really causing the problem," advises Maggie. "Little people get ratty when they're hungry, thirsty, or need the loo. Sorting out these issues can defuse arguments. Try to avoid a confrontation by getting them to team up and look for what you need to buy."
The checkout queue is a mile long and your little one's getting itchy feet
It's unreasonable to expect a lively toddler to sit in her stroller for hours on end. If you go shopping with a friend you can take it in turns to watch the kids in play areas, or reading areas in book shops, while the other one gets on with the shopping.
You get home to discover a toy you haven't payed for stashed away in the pram
"Getting angry won't help," says Maggie. "Little ones don't mean to do that sort of thing. Simply discourage the behaviour. Explain why we have to pay for things in shopd and take the toy away."