Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What I've Learned: Fun While Shopping

Let me preface this by saying that Natalie is currently 14 months old. Up until now, and still most of the time, she is perfectly happy to sit in the shopping cart, but not as happy in the stroller (I hate our stroller, too, though. Maybe its uncomfortable for her? Don't cheap out when you by a front facing stroller, that's something I've learned right there!). I'm sure that soon we will be arguing about her staying in the cart versus wandering about on her own to feet. For now, these things have worked to keep her happy while we shop.

  • If there is something alive, we look at it. It could be the bunnies in the pet store at the mall, the fish at Walmart, or the lobsters at the supermarket.
  • We go by the children's books. I always look to see if there is a little book I can read to her or show her the pictures. This has been a good way to see holiday books without buying them.
  • I ask her opinion. Would Mommy look better in the pink sweater or the purple? Should I get the light or dark yarn? Do we need one or two of this? What kind of ice cream does she think Daddy might like? She almost never answers, but I try to engage her in what I'm doing.
  • We talk to people, which is something I never did before having a baby. Usually, we talk to old ladies and babies and kids with their moms. But, cashiers and other service people in the stores are usually interested in talking to Natalie, too.
  • When clothes shopping, I play peekaboo with her around the racks of clothes.
  • When at the grocery store, we always go through the produce section for her to see all the colors. Now that she is getting older, she gets excited about the food she recognizes (apples and bananas mostly).
  • I always bring her toys, a drink, and a snack whenever we go anywhere. She gets toys and the drink while we shop, and usually I give her the snack at that checkout line if she seems to need it. The toys we bring are small, such as teether rings, Sesame St figures, or rattles.
  • I talk to Natalie as we shop. I tell her about what's on the list, what we need to get next, where in the store we're going next.
  • When she was smaller, she loved the ceiling fan section at Walmart. We'd always take a trip over there. Now they don't have it anymore, but I'm also not sure she'd still like it.
  • If I have to order digital pictures, I try to point her toward a TV in the electronics department to provide her some distraction.
Since getting her in and out of the car is a procedure involving straps, toys, cups, coats, shopping cart covers, and whatnot, I try to make the errand inside the store worth the hassle. Here are some time killers:
  • Diaper change in the restroom if it is a mall or Walmart.
  • Walk up and down every aisle or walk all the branches of the mall.
  • Show her pictures on calendars, if its the right time of year.
  • Get her a snack, such as the free cheese slice at the deli or free samples at Walmart.
  • Run several errands at a time in one place.
  • Go out of my way to find the comment cards.
I've learned recently that unless I really only need to run in and get one or two small things, it is not worth it to let her walk on her own. If I need to stop to read a label or search for an item, she will run off without me. And holding her while she struggles to get down and starts fussing while I try to do these things just gets us both mad. So, we only use letting her walk in the store as a time killer. If it is a quick one item trip, I'll let her lead me around the store for a while. Or, if both Mike and I are there, one of us will let her walk around while we check out.

I'm looking forward some of the things she can do while we shop when she is older. Having her count items, point them out to me, tell me the colors, put them in the cart or on the counter. I've also heard of giving kids a magazine or tabloid an asking them to find things or count things as you shop. These all sound fun, but we aren't there yet.

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