There are a few techniques I employ to make the experience a little easier:
- Bring Snacks and Drinks - a child that is eating or drinking is more concerned with what they're putting in their mouth than what you are doing.
- Small toys - something that they can distract themselves with or play with in a change room
- Portable Game Players or Cel Phones with games - don't judge me. This is something I whip out when I have exhausted all options and I just need some time.
- Kid Time - malls usually have fountains or kids stores. For the little ones a pit stop to a fountain or a space to run around in is helpful (except when they don't want to leave and you are in a time crunch, play it by ear). Older children can be rewarded by hitting their stores like LEGO. I know that some will say they will keep harping on you to hurry up. I tell my kids if they ask about the store during the shopping part we don't go. Trust me we don't go so they follow the rules.
- Shopping with a another Mom - misery likes company. You can help each other out while shopping.
- ONLY FOR EXPERIENCED SHOPPERS: Skip the Change Room - When you've been shopping certain retailers and labels, there is a standard fit and 99% of the time the item will fit. Buy your items and try them at home. This will save you the time of change rooms etc and return items that don't fit properly when life is more serene or when you have someone to take the children.
Sometimes no matter what you do things are not going to end well. If I am in line to pay for something, and a tantrum is brewing, I stay until I've paid. Then I get the HELL out of Dodge. Or if I need to buy groceries I just ride out the tantrum. That's when strangers stare but I just keep trucking even though I hate every second of it. Other times I can sense that things are only going to get worse and I abandon all my plans and just go home.
If you want to be free of the whole mall experience there is always online shopping. I have ordered the same item in multiple sizes because I was not sure which one would fit me then returned the one that didn't. I still prefer the mall but whatever works!