Shopping with children at any time of year can be a test of your patience and parenting skills. Whether it’s dealing with the little wanderer you’re constantly trying to keep track of, the infant you’re entertaining as you shop, or the big kid who keeps ramming your heel with the cart as you shop, the experience may leave you wandering through the aisles trying to remember why you went in the first place. Any parent who’s ever shopped with a child also knows part of the challenge of shopping with kids is dealing with the other shoppers, well intentioned or otherwise.
As an avid shopper and the mother of two children, I’ve seen, heard, and experienced those challenges firsthand. Below are six confessions based on my own experiences as a parent shopper. If you are a fellow parent shopper, I’m sure you’ll relate to some of these confessions, and probably have more of your own to share. For those shopping without children, please reflect on these confessions the next time you encounter a parent shopper with his or her kids in the store. Here are my six confessions to my fellow shoppers:
Confession of a Parent Shopper #1 – I understand there’s a big sale on some silly product in aisle four – and I’m truly excited for you – but if you shove my child or the cart he’s in to get there quicker, you will bring out my protective parental instincts. Is the thirty seconds your rudeness may save you really that important? How about the injury it may cause to my child? We will gladly let you pass, if you ask nicely. Common courtesy and manners still apply even when the other person is a child.
Confession of a Parent Shopper #2 – Contrary to the popular belief of fellow shoppers, I do not go the store to seek out parenting advice from strangers. My kids aren’t perfect, and neither am I, but we are doing our best, so please refrain from offering your unsolicited commentary on how I should handle my kids. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure you and your children (if you have any) aren’t faultless either.
Confession of a Parent Shopper #3 – I know they’re cute, but please keep your hands off my children – especially their hands and faces. Do you have any idea how many times each day babies and young kids put their hands in their mouths? You most likely mean no harm, but think of the germs you may pass to my kids. Not to mention the tears you might cause because someone they don’t know is touching them.
Confession of a Parent Shopper #4 – Yes, I do know my child is throwing a tantrum. No, she does not act like this all the time. And, no, your ugly looks or remarks will certainly not help the situation. What will help the most is for you to understand she is merely testing her boundaries when she thinks she has the best chance of getting away with it – like while I’m busy shopping in a crowded store – and simply turn away. Trust me, I’m well aware of her outburst, am sorry for the disruption it is causing, and am trying to handle it.
Confession of a Parent Shopper #5 – Remember, you are a stranger to my kids, so please don’t take offense when you talk to them, and they hide or refuse to speak. It’s sometimes hard for kids to understand when it’s okay to talk to people they don’t know and when it’s not. They are not trying to be rude. Children are taught to not talk to strangers for a reason – their own safety.
Confession of a Parent Shopper #6 – My kids and I aren’t on a mission to ruin your day or slow down your shopping experience. We’re simply here to shop, and my time is valuable too. However, it may take me longer to maneuver through the aisles while keeping track of my kids who are trying to “help” me shop. My shopping time could end abruptly at any moment with someone needing to use the bathroom, losing a favorite toy, or having a meltdown. The truth is I wish I could move quickly through the store!
Nancy S. Buck, Ph.D., “How to Handle Unsolicited Advice with Peaceful Parenting”
Carol Gioia, “How to Deal with Rude Behavior During the Holidays”