Take the hassle out of holiday shopping with kids and make running errands easier with these tips from author and mom of two Elizabeth Verdick.
Keep to a schedule.
Make it easier on everyone by running errands or scheduling appointments in between your child's meals and naps. This will ensure your child is rested, fed, and ready to go. Don't try to cram too many stops into one trip -- this often leads to frustration, tears, or meltdowns.
Make a "go-time" list.
Your young child will do a lot better on the go if you've made a visual schedule ahead of time. On a piece of paper, draw a representation of each place you'll be going: a book for the library, an apple for the grocery store, a stamp for the post office. Your child will know what to expect and look forward to.
Get ready, get set.
Before you leave home, give your child a chance to use the bathroom, get a drink and snack to take along, and choose a favorite toy to bring. Make sure you always have a handy stash of diapers and wipes, underpants and extra clothes, raingear, juice boxes, small toys, and other essential "go-time" supplies. It's helpful if your child eats beforehand or brings along a snack -- especially if you're running several errands. Full tummies mean calmer children!
Prepare for challenges.
You can use every one of these tips and still have one of those terrible outings where your child melts down in public. What to do? Take a few deep breaths and have your child do the same. Avoid yelling, making threats, or bribing your child with treats. Sometimes, it's best to simply pick up your child and leave until you're both calmer and can return to the scene. (You wouldn't be the first parent or caregiver who had to leave a cart full of groceries behind.)
Elizabeth Verdick is a mom of two children, now ages 14 and 10. Her latest board book series is Toddler ToolsTM, which helps young children and their parents cope with those transitions that happen every day (like naptime), the most recent of which is "On the Go Time" (Free Spirit; $7.95).
Also see: NYMetroParents' Holiday Bazaar of Traditions, Memories, Insights, and Gifts