Okay, shopping with young children isn’t the most fun and carefree thing in the world. But it’s not the worst thing ever. And it can actually be fun, if you are prepared. During the half-term, Husband and I took our kids to Westfield Stratford City for some afternoon shopping. And we had a great time.
Here are some of the things that made our shopping experience enjoyable.
1. Silly Games – You know that game you play in the car, where the winner spots a certain coloured car first? Well, we do this shopping. We see who is the first to spot someone wearing plaits, or red shoes, or a hat, and also who can find a shoe shop, book store, etc. The beauty of this game is that you can play it for ages and young children love it. You could even offer a prize – a sweet treat, a new book. Maybe even something you were planning to buy for your child anyway. Ooh, wow, new socks!
2. Pack Snacks – Like any day out, your child will want to eat constantly, and you won’t want to have lunch at 10.30am. Pack snacks that can be eaten while walking or in the buggy, and that won’t make a huge mess (or smell) so that the other shoppers shoot you evil looks. Think raisins and Babybels rather than jam sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs.
3. Let Them Play – Children can only handle so much waiting around time while you try on 12 different pairs of skinny jeans. Fact. We were so pleased to find that Westfield Stratford City had play areas. After shopping and dinner, Husband remembered he needed to buy new trousers. Rather than dragging the kids to another shop, I took them to the play area while Husband went shopping. The kids had fun and Husband had peace and quiet for 10 minutes. And I got to see what was happening on instagram using Westfield’s free WIFI.
4. Be Organised – You don’t want to spend half of your time at the shopping centre wandering around looking for your favourite shops. As we had never been to Westfield Stratford before, I downloaded the free app. It had maps and store information. And as we went on the Bank Holiday Monday, I was able to quickly check to find out that it was open until 9pm (wow!). It also has a parking section that is pretty cool. When parking, you can note down where you have parked. But if you forget to do that, you can put in your license plat number and it will tell you where you have parked. Genius!
I think it helps if you shop somewhere child-friendly, although that isn’t always easy. One thing that really impressed me about Westfield is their Parent Rooms. Besides plenty of room for changing nappies, comfy chairs for breastfeeding (and privacy) and child-sized toilets, they also have play areas and televisions in case your child just needs a break from the shopping.
So, do you go shopping with your kids very often? Have you been to any of the Westfield shopping centres? What are your tips for shopping without any meltdowns?
We were given a gift card for Westfield Stratford for the purpose of this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.