When you have children you don’t always want to be stuck at home. You don’t want to spend a fortune entertaining children either. I get cabin fever after a while and I’m sure children do too.
Going out doesn’t have to be expensive and there are options when it’s raining or the park isn’t doing it for you. Yes, I know getting outside just needs the right clothes, but I still don’t wan to spend time standing around or walking in the wet.
The classic toddler trip
If you’re at a retail park with a toddler having a moan, get to the pet shop. Very few customers look like they’re actually there to buy, but the couple of times we dropped in to entertain N while out shopping, there were always plenty of parents or grandparents with children.
Nowadays the choice of animals is usually limited. But guinea pigs, rabbits and lots of fish are always on show. I’d love to know the number of young children who are so big a fan after visiting pet shops in their younger years, who end up pestering parents who buy them the animal they’ve spotted.
Luckily N was never bothered although he did like watching the fish.
Pre-schooler and infant primary school age
My child is a bit strange. Take him to the library and he’ll spend ages choosing books, but then won’t read them once he’s taken them home. But take him to a DIY shop and he loves it.
In particular we have a local independent shop in a nearly small town. It’s a never-ending shop – it just goes back and back with everything homewares in the front, moving to DIY in the back. Hoses, paint mixing, fly swatters and his favourite area, the lengths of wood. N enjoys pulling them out of their slots to check the length, and back in again. As I said, strange!
Older primary age children
The recent favourite is stationery, Smiggle of course. Although the more ‘boyish’ or unisex options are quite limited and overshadowed by the more girly choices. But really any stationery aisle or shop would do it.
I can understand where his love of stationery comes from. Yes, that would be me. I have notebooks on notebooks, and an overflowing ‘pen’ drawer in the kitchen, but N is always stealing my things.
The alternative for those so inclined is a sports shop. The ‘jumble sale’ that is Sports Direct, or the more organised spaciousness of Decathlon.
We usually go in looking for new trainers, or possibly tennis or swimming things, but we can get caught up all over the shops, looking at camping sections, flip flops or more latterly archery.
It seems it’s not just N, but meeting up with an old uni friend and her similar age boys, we headed to Sports Direct after lunch. Hers are as much fans as N is (although their preference is football).
We did end up on that occasion with new trainers (needed), tennis balls (on offer, you can never have too many), and a cycling helmet (a bargain Muddy Fox one, he needed to move up a size). Usually N is safe to take out ‘window shopping’. He doesn’t pester if I say no, and he knows when there items he’ll have to save for, or will have to put on birthday or Christmas lists.
If you have a child you can’t say no to, then maybe those cheeky shop visits don’t end up being worth the hassle. But they certainly prevent some moans and help with negotiation over also visiting places he doesn’t want to go to. Or only take children when you need to buy, then they get to have a browse as well. And of course if you’re buying, it’s a maths lesson if you get them to add up the shopping and get them to go and pay.
What shops do your children like to visit for window shopping?