Loukia Zigoumis: Shop Mummy


How to Shop With Your Children Without Losing Your Sanity

Follow five simple rules for shopping bliss

One of the things I loved the most about taking a winter vacation to south Florida was spending hours in my favourite shopping centre, Aventura Mall. After a day of swimming in the ocean and sipping pina coladas by the pool, I'd get on my serious shopping shoes (read: comforable flats) and make my way to this heavely, beautiful, mall where I'd visit all the stores we didn't have in Ottawa. Thankfully, a lot of my favourite stores are now in my hometown, like BCBG, Banana Republic, Lacoste, Sephora, and the stores that we don't have yet, Toronto has, like Anthropologie, J.Crew, Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn, and more. Hence the reason I'm not giving up my Canadian citizenship any time soon. (Oh, and our free health care, safe streets, amazing maternity leave, quality education, and beautiful cities are keeping me here, too, but I digress...)

This year, I faced a new challenge: a four-year-old and six-year-old. In a mall. Against their free will. Yikes. Gone were the good old days where I could pop the kids in a double stroller and offer them snacks as a peace offering, allowing me more time to shop. No, now, things were different. With two boys, each running off in a different direction, I had a choice to make, and quickly. WHICH ONE STORE COULD I MAKE THE BEST USE OF MY TIME IN?

Don't worry, friends. I have come up with a fail-proof plan to allow you to shop with your children. Here's how you can leave with a few bags in your arms while maintaining your sanity:

Pick one store. I know, it's not an easy thing to do, when there are so many stores calling your name. But trust me. One store. My choice? Nordstrom. Nordstrom is my happy place, my most favourite store on the planet, and a great place to bring the kids, because the sales associates aren't mean, and they have a great children's section. Also, you can get it all in one store. Shoes, bags, (I bought my favourite Marc Jacobs purse from Nordstrom in under five minutes) clothes, make-up, whatever you want, this department store has it. And as much as I love Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom is way more affordable, and still offers a wide variety of brand names you love.

 Give yourself a time limit. My time limit? 15 minutes. I'm not kidding. I ran in with my boys, distracting them with discussions about the LEGO store we were going to hit next, and I did a mad dash. Whatever I saw that called my name, I grabbed and ran to the cash with.

 Don't try anything on. You have to really know yourself and your body if you're going to buy things you can't first try on, but I know, 10 times out of 10, a medium sized shirt will fit me. Same with dresses and skirts. Pants can be more tricky, so don't bother, under these conditions. I bought a few tops, and a dress. All fit perfectly when I tried them on in the hotel room later.

 Bring snacks. I bet no mom has a purse that doesn't contain at least half a granola bar and some Goldfish crackers in it. Bring snacks with you. And water. And ipads/ipods/headphones, books. Seriously. Nordstrom has comfy chairs for kids to sit in while you finish up your shopping!

 Make it fun. Ask your children what you should buy. Don't always take their advice, of course, but ask! They'll have fun telling you what they want you to buy, and what you shouldn't buy. Next time, however, I will not listen to my six year when he tells me I don't need the same shirt in pink, because for the last few weeks now, that one shirt on sale for $24.99 that I did not buy because a six year old told me not to is the only thing I've been thinking about.

And...exhale. You did it! Okay, it's not as fun as it used to be, but mission accomplished, right? A few new outfits, from your favourite store, check! And remember, children will grow, and so will your bank account. Shopping will be fun again, one day soon.