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Beginners Guide to Shopping with a Toddler: 5 Lessons Learned.

As a first time Mom, I’m always learning. I’ve been blessed with a very happy baby that has grown into a very happy toddler. I have close friends who are raising spirited or higher needs kids and honestly I don't know how they do it. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had a fairly easy ride so far on this motherhood train and I consider myself very lucky. With that said, some days are definitely harder than others. I wanted to share this story and give some tangible takeaways for any new or expecting mothers out there. When you go shopping with a toddler, be like a boy scout and always be prepared.

Shopping with a toddler is like running in one of those adventure races. You know the ones where you have all those obstacles to overcome, running through mud up to your knees, exhausted by the end of it, but feeling triumphant that you made it to the finish line. My husband Chauncey and I were on a mission to get our daughter a fall coat. The seasons seemed to have changed overnight here in Southern Ontario and we were not prepared for the new chill in the air. We headed out to Carter’s; we may share the same name but unfortunately there is no connection, therefore no discounts for us!

On route to the store my husband was checking his banking app on his phone and realized his account had been hacked and nearly all his money had been taken out. Not a great way to start our Sunday! We needed him to get that sorted right away so when we got to the store he was still on the phone with the bank. I went into Carter’s without him to get started shopping. I like to call that a rookie mistake, I still consider myself a “rookie” when it comes to motherhood.

Mckenna is a very social toddler and loves being in new places, but she can also get overstimulated easily. She’s the type of kid that never stops moving and when she’s overstimulated, she just moves even faster! I was holding her in my arms while trying to look for some fall clothes and a fall coat because we didn’t bring the stroller with us. We had assumed that we would both be in the store, so the two to one ratio would work in our favor. Lesson learned, always bring the stroller no matter what!

She wasn’t very happy in my arms so I let her down and that’s when the chaos started! She ran head first into the front window, stumbled back and down she went on her bum. She’s a tough kid and she didn’t cry, she just picked herself back up and continued running down the aisles with me chasing after her.

Mckenna right before stealing the little boys snack.

As I mentioned Mckenna is very social; she found a little boy who was enjoying his snack, which she then proceeded to try to steal from him. I apologized to his mother and told Mckenna that was his snack and to give it back, if you are a parent you know this scene all too well.

We finally found some coats at the back of the store and she really enjoyed trying them on so it was easy to pick our favourite quickly. At this point I was exhausted and we’d only been shopping for about ten minutes! Right in time, Chauncey appeared! He was able to sort things out with the bank, and now that the ratio was back to two to one again, we wanted to be proactive and look for a snowsuit. We put one on her and off she ran until she tripped and hit her head on the ground. Our poor girl! We decided that was enough shopping for one day and Chauncey scooped her up and cuddled her while I went to the register to pay for the items we had picked out.

The Winner! Mckenna enjoying the cool weather at the park in her new Fall coat.

What did I learn from this ordinary everyday shopping experience?

1) Lesson one is to bring the stroller even if you don’t think you will need it. It’s a great spot to contain a rambunctious toddler.

2) Snacks, snacks and more snacks! This is one area I often forget about and I definitely need to pack some more items to keep her well fed and entertained.

3) You can’t prevent every fall. Every time Mckenna trips or falls, I instantly have this “Mom Guilt” feeling, thinking I could have stopped her from hurting herself. And of course there are times when you can prevent falls, but you can’t always be fast enough. I have to learn to give myself some grace and know that I’m doing my best.

4) Ask for help! There were a few people working in the store that day and I’m sure I could have easily asked them for assistance; either with entertaining Mckenna while I grabbed some of the coats to try on, or even to help me locate what I was looking for. I’m not a shy person, but sometimes I forget that there are other people that are more than willing to step up to help, all you have to do is ask.

5) Have fun! As stressful as this shopping experienced was it was also a lot of fun. I often let Mckenna run a little wild but she’s only 16 months! I want her to explore her surroundings and see new things, we were at a kids store after all! If we were at a fine dining restaurant, would I let her run around and explore? Of course not, but I also likely won’t be taking her to a fine dining restaurant anytime soon.

All in all it was a successful shopping trip, we got her a fall coat and she only left with a tiny bump on her head, but still had a smile on her face. As a first time Mom I’m always learning and this quick trip to the store taught me to be a bit more prepared for the unexpected. This stage is busy but truthfully I am loving it! Watching her mind working and seeing the world through her eyes is truly amazing. My question is how do Moms of more than one child handle shopping trips?

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