Teaching a Toddler to Window Shop

Somewhere along the way, in his short 2 1/2 years, my son has learned that a trip to Target usually means a new toy, a trip to Starbucks means a grande iced water for him (thankfully that’s all!), and a trip to Costco means lots of samples and a prolonged stop in the book aisle. 

Our trips to Target are really the problem. In the beginning, when he was old enough to sit up in a cart, I would start in the toy aisle first, hand him a toy that made noise or flashed lights, and hoped it would keep him busy while I did my shopping. Except then I started buying him a toy. We’re not talking big ticket items, but $3 or $4 spent on every trip to Target can add up. And when I think about it, it’s not just Target. It’s TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Ross, and more. And the madness has to stop. 

A friend of mine said she noticed the same thing was happening with her daughter. A trip to Fred Meyer or Target always resulted in a small toy. She decided to find other alternatives. At Fred Meyer, it’s the free cookie for kids from the bakery, or a cheese sample from the deli. At Target, if my friend has a coupon for something free or deeply discounted at the Target cafe, her daughter might get a bag of popcorn or something similar. 

Another friend just doesn’t take her kids shopping with her, ever, or avoids it as much as humanly possible. If she’s in a grocery store, she steers clear of the toys, so there’s no temptation and no tantrums about toys. 

It’s all my fault, I realize, that my son thinks Target is the land of Disney’s Cars, where a new diecast car comes down from heaven and multiplies like manna. So what’s the solution? I love my friend’s idea about the free cookie at Fred Meyer. It’s a treat, and it’s free. I don’t see how I can avoid shopping at all with Future President, but that leads me to another idea. If it’s not food, maybe I need to be a better window shopper. I have a friend that is spending an entire year avoiding retail therapy. She’s about six months into her experiment and says it’s absolutely doable. I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a similar experiment, maybe as a New Year’s resolution, but regardless, something less drastic has to happen. Because Disney’s Cars are not manna, nor is the money in my pocket.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching a Toddler to Window Shop

  1. I do it everytime, too. Though at Target, I stop by the dollar section first thing, let her pick out whatever cheap crap will keep her entertained and hope to leave it in the check out line. If she’s not distracted enough to leave it – well, it was only $1! Once, I handed Mia a coloring book at Michael’s without realizing there were stickers in the center. Once I saw that about 40% of the stickers were gone… well, that overpriced coloring book had to come home with us.

    • Oh, the $1 section is a great idea! Thanks for telling me I’m not the only mom that does this…it makes me feel a little better for creating a little consumer. 🙂

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