8 Tips on Surviving an Outing with a Toddler
1.) Don’t go.
Really. Don’t go. If you don’t have to go out, don’t. It’ll save you time, energy, money and stress. Mostly stress. And hassle. Send your husband, wife, or partner to the store. Or, better yet, go when the little one is asleep.
But, if you do have to go…
2.) Only make one stop.
If your child gets as cranky as mine does/did, then one stop is about all you can handle. All the excess gear (shopping cart cover, diaper bag, etc.) and getting the little one in and out of the car/carseat will add quite a bit of time to your trip. More time than you plan for.
3.) Talk to everyone you can.
This is a ‘stay sane’ tip, because we all need those. I found that being at home with a child all day long made me yearn for adult interactions. I found myself striking up conversations with the Starbucks Barista, the Checker, the Teller, anyone who would be able to talk to me about recent events or the weather.
4.) Don’t be afraid to leave.
If your little one starts to make a mess, or scream, or misbehave, don’t be afraid to leave a cart full of groceries in the middle of the supermarket and take the child home. Sometimes kids just need a nap. These outings take a lot out of them.
BUT don’t make a threat you’re not willing to follow through with. “We’ll go straight home!” will work much better in future if you actually do drop everything and take the child home. (And you may only need to do that once if you actually do it when you threaten to!)
5.) Bring snacks.
For you and for the child. I cannot emphasize how important this one is. You can bring snacks, or buy snacks–Goldfish are wonderful, but I’ve also found that grapes, raspberries and Crasins work really well–but making sure you have something to keep the blood sugar up, keep the hands and mouth occupied, and keep a little one sitting still is imperative to being able to accomplish anything while you’re out.
6.) Use technology to distract.
What would you rather see: a screaming toddler throwing items out of a shopping cart, making a huge mess, causing a ruckus… or a calm, peaceful child watching Mickey Mouse or Elmo quietly on his parent’s phone, while the parent has both hands free to finish shopping quickly and take said child home?
That’s what I thought.
I don’t want to hear the garbage about “too much screen time” or “we didn’t use that sort of thing back in my day”… parents have a hard enough time as it is. Don’t judge.
7.) Have extra supplies, just in case.
You know what I’m talking about. My little one likes to leave a load at Target. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if we’re in that store, she dirties a diaper. I’m often scrambling to get diapers and wipes. You’d think I’d have learned this by now. Always have extra supplies. Uh-Oh clothes, diapers wipes, hand sanitizer and tissues are really helpful.
8.) Don’t cave.
Don’t cave to the “just throw it in the cart so we can get out of here” impulse that I’m sure will come over you. Don’t cave to the “if I buy this one thing for you, will you be quiet?” instinct that kicks in. Don’t cave to the “I’ll buy three of these so I don’t have to come back out again next week” knee-jerk reflex that so often comes along with shopping with a screaming kid.
Make sure you’ve accomplished what you need to accomplish, without too much frivolous extras. There was a while when I couldn’t get out of a store without spending $100 and at least 90 minutes. You can do better than I did. Just be prepared.
I hope that this helps you with your outings. Just remember that you will only encounter two types of people out there in the real world; those who are sympathetic and supportive, and those whose opinion doesn’t matter.