Your One-Stop Resource for Shopping With Kids
Not all parents have the option of leaving their children at home when Christmas shopping. If you are stuck bringing the kids along, here is your ultimate guide to shopping, keeping the kids happy, and still keeping your sanity (yes, even amidst all the "deal-fighting" folks).
In order to remain happy, kids need to be clean, well-fed, with empty bladders, and well-rested. They also need to be entertained. In addition, along with holiday shopping, there may come some negativity from other shoppers. As a parent, you must also do your best to avoid their negativity or at least retain your own composure for the sake of your children. Below, you will learn how to deal with all of those issues, as well as how to sneak in gifts that are for recipients who are with you (a must for many parents).
Children like to touch many things and this can become a problem when you're in a public place where many other people have touched the same things. This can spread germs. Always bring a small package (or zippered sandwich bag) of hand sanitizing wipes with you. These should be used to not only wipe the children's hands of germs, but also to swipe shopping carts or fast food tables and seats.
For food messes, keep some baby wipes on hand as well. I recommend Huggies Shea Butter wipes, as these are nice and thick and it only takes one quick swipe with these in most instances. Plus, they don't dry out the skin, as they contain the Shea butter for extra softness. These wipes also come in handy for spills and for wiping food off of clothing.
Using Public Restrooms
Many parents are leery of letting the children use public restrooms, as they are often messy. Plus, there is the underlying thought of how many strangers use the same toilet. To save the toilet issue, parents can bring along a folding plastic toilet seat cover and swipe it with the sanitizing wipes after each use. It folds up small enough to easily fit inside a purse or diaper bag. If you're extra nervous about public restrooms, you can even pack your own tissue. Kleenex comes in small purse-sized packages and can work when on the go. Always be sure the children wash their hands. If the sinks are less than sanitary, use the sanitizing wipes instead.
Ah, yes, the children do need to eat, don't they? It seems logical to bring along snacks and beverages for the children, but sometimes in the rush of getting ready, parents don't think of this. I like to pack Juicy Juice boxes or bottles of water for the beverage. My homemade trail mix also makes an excellent shopping snack, as it's lightweight, but filling. Oh yes, and each kid must have their own separate zippered sandwich bag with exactly equal amounts of snack or there is sure to be some sort of disagreement otherwise.
If your child cannot have nuts, substitute any nut product with other things, such as dried fruit or crackers. If you don't have a baby stroller to keep these things under or don't want to carry a diaper bag or knapsack with you, you may want to consider leaving these in the car until the time is right. However, I should mention that it's always easier if they are on hand because as any parent knows, the whining or hunger urges can come at any point, and just your luck, they would come at the moment you decided not to bring your snacks.
Kids can become bored so easily when shopping. In order to keep boredom to a minimum, parents can do things to keep the children busy, like playing simple games or talking about interesting things. The kids can even help with the shopping. Some of my grocery shopping tips also work when gift shopping for Christmas. Gift shopping is also a good time to talk about school, friends, and family events that may be coming up. The key to kids not growing bored is to keep them busy talking or doing something.
Many stores that carry gifts also carry Christmas ornaments, or at least have some sort of Christmas display. Take time out to enjoy the beautiful items for sale or the store displays. Your children will appreciate this. Yes, you can be the annoying person who pushes the button on the singing reindeer for the millionth time. I'm sure the store associates would rather hear that than crying children. Believe me, I know. I've worked retail. Those sound effects items are annoying, but parents who let their children cry endlessly are even worse.
Just have fun and do not rush. Even window shop the toy aisle with the children. If Santa's there, go see Santa. Rushing causes stress. Trust me, you will get much more accomplished when you take your time, choose wisely, and have fun.
This is the inevitable doom of parents who are shopping. The kids will get tired. So if you've still got shopping to get done, what do you do? I suggest bringing along a blanket for a toddler. Line the bottom of a shopping cart with it. One person can push the sleeping toddler and another can push the cart of gifts. An even better option for babies or toddlers is a stroller that lies down easily. I prefer double strollers, as they also provide extra room for shopping.
If your older children are tired, try taking a break. If you're in a mall, there are probably benches to rest on for a bit. This can also be a good opportunity to replenish with snacks and a drink, to stop somewhere and eat, or to have a picnic lunch in a nearby park. If your children are too tired to even use these ideas, it's time to go home for a nap and come back later or another day. The children's needs are more important than your Christmas list.
Some children do not like large crowds of people. Try distracting a child like this with interesting items in the store or with conversation or imaginary play. For older children, try keeping them talking about something that interests them or letting them help pick out gifts for the younger ones. The key is to keep the child so busy and distracted that the crowd goes unnoticed.
Sometimes people are stressed and aren't very friendly. Some will even push, shove, yell, or get otherwise physical over an item that they want to buy for Christmas. If this happens and your children are with you, immediately remove yourself from the situation. The item is not worth letting children bear witness to that negativity.
If they are just pushy and no item is in dispute, still remove yourself and your children from the situation. Later explain to your children that it wasn't very nice and maybe that person is having a bad day. If you believe in God, you may also want to encourage your children to pray for the person and forgive the person. This can be an excellent situation for teaching humility, generosity, and forgiveness.
Sneaking in Gifts
Now this is the trickiest part of shopping with children. I think perhaps the best way to be sneaky about it is to pretend the gifts are for someone else. Now, if you've done this for Christmas gifts before and your kids are older, they might catch on, so you'll have to make sure the someone else also asked for the same gifts as your children. Another way to sneak in gifts is to quickly grab them and hide them under other gifts when the children aren't looking.
If you have teenagers, they can go to another part of the store while you purchase and pay for their gifts. Ask the cashiers to provide a dark bag or double or triple the bags to disguise the items. Some stores even have cardboard boxes and if you purchase a roll of tape, you can seal the boxes.
If you are wanting to purchase breakable items, try carrying a shopping bag or small shopping basket with handles for those items. You may even want to place some soft items in with those for cushioning. Keep these items away from the children as much as possible. When you go down a breakable aisle, keep the toddlers near the center of the aisle (preferable in a cart or stroller). It helps if your children know rules about touching things before you even enter the store.
Shopping for Christmas gifts can be tricky with children, but it can also be fun. You just have to relax, take a deep breath, and expect it to be fun. If you expect it to be hard and put in no effort for it to be fun, then it will indeed be hard. However, if you go into it, looking for fun, that's what you'll get.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Want to show off your little angel's voice in time for the holidays? Kids can be amazing singers. But some may have more trouble than others memorizing the lyrics. Be it Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, Easter, or any other holiday year-round, kids love singing songs. Here are the lyric memorization tips I've had the best success using with my own kids and those in my care as a former nanny.
Start early. You can't start practicing two days before the holiday if you expect the kids to learn a new song. Have multiple songs? Start even earlier. The more time the kids have to practice and become familiar with holiday sing lyrics, the better they will learn them. While there is fun to be had when kids forget their lyrics, it can be satisfying to them to get through a performance without stumbling.
Practice often. The key to learning anything well is putting it into practice. Holiday song lyrics are no different. If this is for a school program, there is likely a specific time-frame set aside for practice. If it's for homeschool students or your kids are putting on their own show, practice might be done in a central location for several students or it may take place at the park or in the home. No matter the situation, be sure the kids have plenty of time to practice. Some may also choose to practice extra on their own.
Be patient. It may take some kids a while to get the lyrics straight. Be patient and understanding. If they see you get frustrated, they may do the same. A calm and patient environment will likely produce better results than if kids feel rushed. Holiday lyrics can often be confusing to kids because there can be so many variances. They may be used to hearing a song one way and have to learn it another. They may also have never heard certain songs before or just not be good at memorization.
Avoid pressure. This falls in line with being patient. Don't push the kids too hard to learn the holiday lyrics. If they mess up at certain points, it's no big deal. They are kids, not robots. Pressure can actually have the opposite effect you are looking for. It can also lead to the kids not being excited about singing carols or being in performances. Pressure takes all the enjoyment out of an activity that is supposed to be fun.
Have fun! No matter how long it takes to teach kids holiday lyrics and no matter what methods are employed, the most important aspect is fun. Just have fun! If someone messes up the words, laugh it off and start over. Discuss not just the lyrics, but the history and meaning behind them. Play fun games to help with memorization or relaxation. Remember that the point is not to create perfectionism, but to have some fun with the kids. A perfect show is not necessarily one where every kid knows the lyrics. It's one where everyone has fun.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Before you send your teen out to brave the spooky world of Halloween, make sure to quiz them on vital safety tips. Trick-or-treating is fun most of the time. But it can also be dangerous. Remember, your teens will be out after dark and there are various safety rules that become more prevalent when night time falls.
Be finished by nine. After nine o'clock on Halloween is not a time when you want your teens roaming the streets. Most areas have an unspoken rule or even laws not to trick or treat after this time. There are also curfew laws. Plus, that's when the crazy drunk drivers and other criminals are going to be the most active. Remember that while kids enjoy Halloween, so do adults. And not all of those adults - or other teens who may also be out - are going to be responsible. Safety first.
Don't tease the little kids. "But, Ma, that's no fun!" Your teen can get into trouble teasing the younger kids or stealing their candy. It's harassment and it's also just mean. If they can't get any candy trick-or-treating, then perhaps they are too old. If they ask nicely, perhaps little brother or sister won't mind sharing. You could also buy them their own or let them hand out candy to the younger set.
Wear reflective clothing or use flashlights. Black and other dark colors are popular on Halloween. Be sure the teens wear something reflective and/or carry flashlights on Halloween for their safety. Glow sticks and other light sources that can be worn are a great for this. Drivers can see the teens more easily if they are wearing something reflective or using a light source.
Be sure that masks don't block vision. Some masks and other costume gear can block vision or lower it immensely. Make sure before teens go out that they can see from left to right without having to rotate. They also should be able to see in front of them. Give them a quick finger check test by holding up various fingers at different angles. They might roll their eyes at you and groan, but at least you'll know they're safe. Besides, your teens are likely secretly loving the fact that you care.
Safety comes in numbers. Be sure that your teenager is not going to be trick-or-treating alone or with just one other person. They should be making it a group event. Anyone trying to act ill-willed toward someone is more likely to target those who are separate from the crowd.
Talking to your teen about Halloween safety beforehand could help prevent the wrong kind of Halloween nightmares. Other safety tips may apply as well. However, utilizing these 5 vital Halloween safety tips with your teens is a great start toward avoiding danger on this spooky holiday.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
You dress your toddler up all cute - and maybe a little spooky - and as soon as you get to the first house for trick-or-treating, she lets out a wail. Not a fun Halloween wail, a cranky, possibly scared, wail that frightens the other kids in a not-so-Halloween way. To prevent such a scenario, there are steps you can take before having some Halloween fun with your toddler. Here are five ways to prevent your toddler from getting cranky this Halloween.
Be sure your toddler takes a nap before Halloween events. Ensuring your toddler is rested well will be a big help in lessening the fussiness probability. Rested kids are usually happy kids. But kids who haven't had naps are probably going to whine and cry and complain. Better to have him take a nap first, so your child can have some fun.
Have a snack ready to avoid crankiness about candy that hasn't been inspected. If you are taking your toddler trick-or-treating, let her have two bags. One bag should have safe snacks to eat while having fun. The other is for collecting the treats to save for later. This way, there isn't as much crankiness about candy she can't yet eat.
Avoid itchy face makeup. Face makeup can irritate a toddler's sensitive skin. Instead of using makeup to create that look, go for a soft mask or hat instead. Hoods are even better. That way, it can easily slip down if your toddler is uncomfortable. Toddlers may rub and scratch at makeup and pull off hats or masks.
Make sure the costume is weather-friendly. If it's 80 degrees outside and you put a thick teddy bear costume on your toddler, you better be prepared for some crankiness. Look for fabrics that will fit the weather. When it comes to toddlers, comfort is much more important than style. Wouldn't you rather have a happy, excited toddler than a cranky, hot , and uncomfortable one? Thick costumes are best if it's cold. Otherwise, go for thinner flexible fabrics.
Make the event about the toddler, not yourself. If it's obvious your toddler hates trick-or-treating, then stop. There's no reason for dragging him around house to house if he's upset. The same thing goes for costumes. Let him be what he wants to. It's about him and his self-expression, not about bragging to your friends about your latest trendy creation. When your toddler feels good about what he's wearing, he is less likely to be cranky.
Toddlers often get cranky during unfamiliar or particularly eventful activities. This is especially true if these goings-on last longer than their routine activities. Halloween doesn’t have to be a stressful event. By taking charge with extra prevention and following your toddler’s cues, you can help make this Halloween more fun than stressful.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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