If I'm being totally honest, I never meant to take my kid Black Friday shopping. It wasn't like I said "gee, let's take my 7-year-old out to the mall on the cray-cray-craaaziest day of the year because we really need a cheap TV." But when I realized I had no sitter for the Friday after Thanksgiving, I pondered: what was the worst that could happen? I'd drive to the mall, realize I was out of my ever-loving mind, and end up turning the car around and driving home?
My husband was at work. I wasn't. So I decided to risk it.
Folks, I survived Black Friday shopping with a child! And it really wasn't that bad. So if you're stuck in the same boat this holiday season, allow me to offer a few tips on making it manageable!
1. Sleep in. I know, you might miss out on a few of those doorbuster deals. But you'll also miss out on the worst of the crowds. People tend to hit the stores early on Black Friday, and then the place clears out by 10 or 11 a.m.
2. Bring a partner. Ironically, the reason I didn't have a sitter last year on Black Friday is because one of my teenage sitters is usually my shopping partner! This worked out perfectly because I had someone to divert her attention when I was grabbing presents for her, or just to take her outside the store to sit on a bench when the lines were taking too long.
3. Bring snacks. This may be obvious to parents of toddlers, but I have really fallen out of the habit since my daughter started elementary school. But on Black Friday, the stores aren't the only places that are mobbed -- the restaurants are too. Unless you want a cranky kid waiting two hours for a table, bring food!
4. Give them the list. OK, so maybe you don't give them the list that says "Buy Little Johnny a Nerf Gun, and Little Susie a My Little Pony," but anything you can do to include them in the whole experience means less whiny about being boooored that you have to hear. So make a "safe" list that they can check off as you go through the day.
5. Let them buy stuff. See above regarding less "I'm booooored." Whether you're just letting them help you pick out slippers for Granny or books for cousin Fred, or you actually let them go up to the register and figure out how to count out change, you can sneak some teachable moments about being a good giver and math in while in all honesty you're really just trying to keep them from whining.
6. Bribe them. Not stellar parenting? Um, says who? The Mom (or Dad) who is Black Friday shopping with their kid? I hated shopping with my mom when I was a kid, so I really tried to look at this from my daughter's perspective: she was being a real trooper going along with me. The very least she deserved was a small token of my appreciation (and when I say small, I mean I probably spent all of $4 on her, but it was the thought that counted).
What do you do with the kids on Black Friday?
Image via R.Niall.Bradshaw/Flickr