Shopping sometimes serves as people’s reprieve from their stressful life and work at home. But for parents, that may not always be true. After all, going to the mall with your children is rarely a walk in the park.
Many parents might even describe mall-going with kids as a rollercoaster ride – one moment you’re enjoying a quiet stroll, then before you know it you’re already yelling (or being yelled at).
Still, this shouldn’t keep you from enjoying shopping, especially when you’re in the UAE’s famous City of Gold.
Fortunately, there is plenty of good advice online to help you overcome that. To get you started, this article compiles the six best tips of all time for stress-free shopping in Dubai:
Start with a detailed plan.
The first thing you must do before heading out is to come up with a detailed plan – with strong emphasis on the word “detailed.”
You see, children require a significant amount of attention – sometimes to the point of distracting you from what you initially set out to do. This is where a plan comes in handy.
To make sure you don’t steer away from your initial purpose for going to the mall, you need a good shopping plan that includes the following:
- An organised shopping list based on the store’s layout.
- A list of priority stores to visit and/or items to buy.
- A map of other important areas in the mall, including bathrooms, rest areas, and entertainment centres.
- A packing checklist with all your kids’ essentials, like snacks and toys.
- A well-thought-out timing for the trip (more on this later).
- Activities to keep your children entertained and give them something to look forward to on the trip.
Keep your children’s temperament in mind.
Malls have a huge amount of space that is impossible to completely cover on a single trip, especially with children in tow. Consider the endurance and patience of your kids before you decide to bring them to the mall.
If you do decide to shop with them, make sure that your children are already at an age when they can enjoy such a trip. This means babies, toddlers, and even preschoolers may not be the best company for a shopping trip.
Sometimes, even teenagers get bored during an extended trip. That means you either have to keep the visit short or split it into several trips.
If it’s the first time you go shopping with your kids, it also helps to visit a nearby establishment. For example, if you rent a flat in Dubai Festival City with your family, you can head straight to the closest mall with the same name. This will allow you to have more time for shopping before your kids reach their limit.
Never shop hungry and during peak hours.
Never forget to feed yourself and the kids before going to the mall (unless you plan to have lunch or snacks the moment you arrive there). If you’ve gone shopping on an empty stomach, then you already know why this is good advice.
Shopping hungry tends to increase the chances of impulsive buying. For kids, this can lead to impatience and a crabby attitude throughout the entire trip.
Unless you’re ready for big crowds and a long wait, try to avoid going there after work and before dinner as it is a time when most people are tired and hungry. As much as possible, schedule your trip after eating.
After breakfast or lunch is the perfect time to go grocery shopping. You may also have an early dinner if you plan to shop during the evening.
If you cannot help or absolutely need to head there outside those times, be sure to bring snacks for every person you’re bringing with you. Biscuits and trail mixes are suitable for bigger kids, but little ones may want their milk and packed soft foods.
Save the browsing for when you’re alone.
No matter how much you enjoy browsing shelves of products, it is not recommended that you do it with children. Such a hobby could lead to utter chaos and a failed attempt at retail therapy as kids tend to have an uncontrollable curiosity and urge to touch and tinker with everything.
Instead, save it for when you’re at the mall alone (or, at least, without the little ones). This will save you a significant amount of time in the mall and a whole lot of headache because of a bored and cranky child.
If you need to buy something for yourself during a family mall trip, it would be best to research the products before your trip. This will help you narrow down the choices, know the item’s average cost, and spend less time making the decision.
Entertain your kids.
There are ways to satisfy your children’s curiosity without the need to buy every toy they want or pay for the mall displays they break.
You can bring their favourite toys along on your trip. This could be considered one of the essentials to include in your packing list.
If they are old enough, you can also try letting them help you with the shopping while fulfilling their need to explore. For example, you can play an i-Spy or scavenger hunt type of game involving your shopping list.
If they feel the urge to touch something you think they could break, you may tell them that that object is for looking only. If it can be picked up, offer to do it together. Even if you don’t plan to buy it, indulging your kids in exploring new scents, sights, and sounds during their formative years would benefit their development.
Know when and how to say “no.”
Parents want their children to be happy. However, they also need to say “no” during certain situations, like when they ask to buy an item that is costly, impractical, or inappropriate.
Of course, simply uttering the word won’t be enough. You also have to mean it. Otherwise, your child won’t accept your stance and will end up throwing a tantrum.
You can start by explaining to them the reason for your decision calmly.
If it’s age-inappropriate, you can point that out as a good reason not to make the purchase.
If it’s too expensive, explain how they can earn and save money by doing chores and coming back to the mall later to make the purchase.
If the item is really nice, you may agree with them while still reaching a compromise. You can either mention the chores thing or tell them to add it to their birthday wish list.
Preparation Is Key
Planning your shopping trip with your children in detail will make it easier to deal with potential issues that may arise. Like most things, preparation is the key to a stress-free trip to the mall with the family.