Many things in life are made that much more challenging with a toddler in tow. However, life goes on, shopping needs to be done and let’s face it, you need to get out of the house. As experienced local parents, we have put together some handy tips to survive your next shopping trip with your little cherub, in and around North Lakes. If you have any other great hints or hilarious shopping fails, we’d love you to share them with us on our Facebook page.
1. Parent Rooms
While you may look at childless shoppers casually enjoying their time in a shopping centre with envy, they may not know about the treasures that abound in the parent rooms of most shopping centres. The greatest thing being the cold, filtered water to fill your water bottles. The huge bathrooms with a toddler sized toilet, that allow you and your toddler to go to the toilet together (great for toilet training and trolleys). And some of the more fandangled rooms come equipped with TV’s, play areas and comfy chairs, perfect for breast feeding or if you need a breather. These little hideaway rooms are a sanctuary for every parent and can be sure to make your shopping trip more bearable.
2. Pack your Stroller
Toddlers can be quite stubborn and insist that they don’t need a stroller. Take the stroller! No matter how much your child may not think they need it. Shopping centres can be pretty big and toddlers get tired very easily. It saves you having to go all the way back to the car half way through your shopping trip. It’s also great to throw your keys, wallet, snacks and other things in. If you have forgotten to pack your stroller, Westfield North Lakes have a free stroller hire service to avoid a meltdown from a tired toddler.
Trolleys have many uses and functions. I once saw a crafty mum set up a doona and cushions in a trolley, nestling a sleeping toddler, while she got all her shopping done in peace. Genius. Trolleys can be used as something for your toddler to push to give them the idea that they are in control of something. You may also find that your toddler is far more inclined to sit in a trolley than they are in a pram. Whichever way you see fit to use your trolley, make sure your child is safe at all times.
Toddlers have a very short attention span and demand to be entertained at all times. This can make shopping a little tricky. Distract your toddler by playing a game. For example, if you are doing groceries, ask them to name all the veggies they see or search for as many red things they can spot. If you are attempting to buy some clothes, get them involved in the process by asking their opinion or helping with coat hangers. Obviously, this will be dependant on your child’s age and ability. Try and think about things they find fun and let your imagination run free.
5. Play Areas
A great way to ensure that toddlers are more compliant is by wearing them out. Find out if your shopping centre has a play area. Westfield has a huge outdoor play area near the food court, a smaller outdoor area by the fresh produce section (near Coles) and an indoor play area outside Big-W. Take some time out and watch them tire themselves. After a huge play, your toddler may even want to sit in their stroller to have a breather, leaving you time to get shopping done.
Be it a car trip, an appointment or any time you need your toddler to be occupied (and quiet), give them snacks! Always have an extensive variety of snacks on hand. Give your toddler a choice of a couple of their favourite snacks. Try and find snacks that require a lot of chewing or take a while to eat. Think popcorn, chips or anything else small and munchable.
When planning a shopping trip, try to prioritise what you need and break your trip down to different shops and purchases. Many shopping trips with toddlers have had to be prematurely aborted due to an epic meltdown. We’ve all been there. The great thing about living in North Lakes is that we have so many great shops nearby. It’s perfectly fine to make several trips in one day if you have the time, energy and/or inclination. Toddlers go through so many stages and growth spurts which can make them unpredictable. Make a list of what you need and where it is so you can get there fast.
Whether it’s coffee, a chai latte or a cheeky beer, plan your shopping trip around nap time and be sure to carve out a tiny bit of your day, solely dedicated to you! The hard-working mama bear or papa bear. Try and catch up with another friend, read a book, scroll through your newsfeed or just watch the world go by. If your toddler has dropped their nap, grab some caffeine to go to get you through your day. North Lakes has a bunch of talented baristas scattered all over for a delicious coffee break.
9. Play Dates
For the tricky purchases that may require laborious fitting room sessions or undivided attention for the sales assistant, try to hook up a play date at a shopping centre with a helpful friend. They can look after your toddler at a playground while you look for the perfect jeans or get a new phone.
It’s probably frowned upon in some circles, but I am all for bribing children. It works a charm, especially with toddlers. It can be a promise to go the playground, a chocolate, some fries or a flavoured milk to drink while you do your groceries. Whatever your child most desires, can be used as a bargaining tool to ensure their best behaviour. Even if it only lasts for a little while.
Best of luck with your shopping ventures.