Children are precious and innocent beacons of hope, but when it comes to shopping, they can be purveyors of mayhem. From their temper tantrums to their painfully short attention spans, perusing the aisles of a store becomes a marathon when young ones are involved. If you’re braving your holiday shopping with the kiddos in tow, here are some pointers on how to keep your sanity in check.

Work Around Their Schedule

Shopping during meal or nap time is a no-no. In short, if your kids can speak or feed themselves, you’ll want to accommodate their routine. As chaotic as your children may seem, their bodies still understand the concept of a schedule. With that said, when it’s time to eat or sleep, they’ll let you know.

In the hopes of avoiding a meltdown, it’s in your best interest to respond to their bodily needs. However, in doing so, you’ll prolong your outing. If you’re looking to expedite the process, you’ll want to have minimal diversions. Chowing down and catching some Z’s will no doubt throw a wrench into your plan, so it’s prudent to work around your children to ensure a hassle-free shopping trip.

Don’t Dawdle

Much like you, your offspring won’t want to roam the stores for hours on end. When their patience runs out, chaos invariably follows. Most parents abide by the one-hour rule, but you can tweak this if you see fit. You’ll want to factor in the drive there and home as well.

Truthfully, your kids don’t care about what you need to do or how quickly you need to get it done. Their preferences will forever trump yours, and unless they were embedded with a custom-made morality chip, they’re going to catch an attitude when things don’t go their way. With that in mind, it’s wise to get down to brass tacks and avoid lingering in the aisles.

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Make It Fun

Shopping is inherently dull. If you’re buying toys for Christmas, however, your kids will be more inclined to help out. As an attempt to keep them engaged, consider enlisting their help with specific tasks. For instance, crossing off items on the list, pushing the cart, and fetching things.

This is a win-win situation. You absolve yourself of some of the responsibility, and your children feel in charge. When these tasks inevitably grow old, the I spy game will be your best friend. Your children will be so concerned with finding your item that they’ll lose interest in whatever was triggering their impatience.

Make A Plan

Good things come to those who plan. This notion rings especially true for parents. While hiccups will undoubtedly arise, having somewhat of a structure bodes well for a streamlined shopping excursion. After all, when it comes to parenthood, organization is king.

Create a list of the things you need and separate them by store. Best of all, you can use the list as an all-knowing mastermind. When your kids ask for a snack, toy, or another miscellaneous item, blame it on the list. If it’s not on the list, it’s not going home with you. Your kids will no doubt catch on, but at least you aren’t entirely at fault.

Remain Calm

Try to stifle your laughter for just one second. While this is easier said than done, remaining calm during in-store mishaps will make the outing more manageable. If you let your frustrations run amok, it’ll be unpleasant for the entire family. Rest assured that any non-parents who are silently judging you will get their just deserts.