The stores are jam packed full of school supplies and school clothes. If you haven’t already dragged your kids from one store to the next, take a moment and consider the extraordinary opportunity this offers you.
Here are my top 10 tips to keep it real and make it fun.
1. Never take a tired, hungry, over stimulated child to any store and expect that things will go well. They won’t.
2. Not a peep about the behavior you expect in the store or that you are only willing to spend so much money. Instead, start the adventure with an appreciation and set a goal together so you start the day feeling you are a team and you are in it together.
3. Start the fun in the car. Create a check list of “stuff” you gotta-get-done and who is in charge of what. Ask the kids how much they think is a reasonable amount to spend. You can always negotiate, but find out what they are thinking before you tell them what the budget is.
4. Bring your equipment: lists, pen, purse, wallets, calculator, bags, or anything else that makes shopping fun.
5. Start the trip with a goodie. Whether that is a special coffee, a donut, or something else that you wouldn’t usually indulge in. It sets the tone and says that this is going to be a great, fun day. Take a page out of Erma Bombeck’s life and focus on what’s really important – making memories with your children.
6. Put the kids to work. Busy hands make for happy kids and you get done quicker. Up and down aisles. Top to bottom. Around the corner. Let them touch everything. After all, they are the ones that have to use or wear all this gear. Anything that keeps them engaged and excited will go along way in creating a fun and enjoyable afternoon of school shopping.
7. Throw up your hands every once-in-awhile and look perplexed. Let the kids assist YOU in getting over a bit of frustration. You can’t imagine how powerful this simple little strategy is. I have avoided 100’s of meltdown just by acting like I was having one first. My kids rallied and we were out of the store in record time.
8. If they have money of their own, let them spend it. Don’t be a grinch. This is exciting for your kids, so let them indulge a bit and buy that useless piece of whatever it is, if it brings a smile to their face. Not a peep. Not a look. Not a comment from you. If they have to look at the rack for 5 minutes, or pick the same thing up a dozen times – then wait for them. Lord knows they wait for you dozens of times a day.
9. Know when things have gone south and get out fast. No need for a lecture. Someone is discouraged and a hug, a refocus and a start over again on another day is all that’s in order. Come on, you KNOW nothing horrible will happen if you haven’t checked every last supply off of your list.
10. Remember, shopping with the kids isn’t just about shopping, so take advantage of the opportunity and have some fun. Before long, you’ll be walking up and down the aisle missing those little mischievous imps of yours (whether they are four or 18-years-old).