All I want for Christmas is EVERYTHING!
It’s Christmas and the excitement is mounting – my kids are seeing brilliant gifts and they want EVERYTHING! Christmas markets are popping up in every town centre and yesterday, we even had our first viewing of Santa. Could it get any better for kids!
I have decided that this year, I will take my four and six-year-old Christmas shopping with me – it’s important that I teach them that Christmas Day is not just about them receiving lots of gifts from Santa, but that it is also about giving and receiving gifts from loved ones.
If I am honest though, after a Christmas Eve trip with my youngest daughter last year where she nearly fell into a £350 light fitting in John Lewis, I am slightly filled with dread. I’ve also had my older child smuggling sparkly hair bows out of Accessorise and full on tantrums on the floor of Debenhams. So this year, I have done some research and spoken to friends about how to make my shopping trip with the kids run as smoothly as possible:
Choose a kid friendly location
Oxford Street is not the best place to shop – huge smart department stores and crowded cold streets are just not kid friendly. Try locations like Westfield in London or the Trafford Centre in Manchester – or in fact any major out of town shopping centre. Many will offer little cars to pull your children around in, plus parenting rooms and play areas to make it easier for families.
Incorporate a toy shop
Stores like LEGO, Early Learning Centre, The Entertainer and the Disney Store are brilliant in the run up to Christmas. There is entertainment and loads of toys to distract little minds. Plan a route around the shopping centre and tell your children that if they behave well in Next then you will take them to the Disney Store to play with the toys.
Do not go alone
Going shopping on your own with children is a very bad idea – I have been there and it is no walk in the park. Recruit a friend with kids, even if this initially may cause more chaos. you can take turns to go to child friendly areas in the shopping centre while the other does a mad dash around the shops to gather Christmas gifts.
Food, glorious food!
Keep snacks and drinks on hand – see a tantrum brewing then simply whip out a child friendly snack – guaranteed distraction for a few minutes while you lust over the latest designer handbags. Make sure snacks and drinks are spill proof to avoid any damage to expensive clothing – fruit purees on a silk blouse for example is not a good combination.
Many stores will have a little Santa’s grotto often strategically placed so that parents cannot possibly walk past without committing. Use a visit to Santa as ammunition to encourage your kids to behave – ‘Behave well in here and you will get to see Santa next. He will know if you have been naughty or nice’.
Fed up of going into Smiggle and hearing ‘Mummy I want that now’ – tell your child that you let Santa know that they want it for Christmas and if they are lucky then he will include it in their stocking. Take a photo with your Smart phone and say you will send it on to him. This will stop your child from pestering you and gives you a record of their Christmas wish list when you get home.
This is key – no child is good on low blood sugar and children will often start to whinge if they are not fed at least once an hour. As well as having snacks on hand then schedule in an exciting lunch – let’s face it, Pizza Express is always a winner but chains like Bill’s, Pizza Hut and Nandos also do great kids menus. Plus, there is colouring in so your kids will be distracted for a little while giving you chance to (kind of) relax.
Crèches and babysitters
Shopping with kids is slow and sometimes you just need to leave the kids at home. Book a sitter for a couple of hours and enjoy some stress free shopping time – you’ll get lots done if you are alone. There are lots of great apps out there like Yoopies where you can book a trusted local carer in a matter of minutes. Or some shopping centres have a kids’ crèche where you can leave your little treasures.