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.