Monday, 29 November 2010

Christmas Shopping with 'Tots in Tow'

If you're like me you have very little tot free time and so most of my shopping expeditions include our young chap. At 19 months Freddie is enjoying more and more time out of his pushchair but that means less actual shopping and more a chasing Freddie! Here are a few tips on how I survive our outings...

I vary our trips to the supermarket and so he doesn't yet associate them as a boring chore... We are fortunate enough to live just a four minute walk from our major supermarket (15 mins) when Freddie walks! Depending on time and size of shop needed we sometimes walk with pushchair, without (then he gets to fill the basket himself) or for the large shop we have to use the car (which means he can go in a trolley!) he always helps with the selection of goodies and loves popping them in the trolley himself.

If I need to shop for clothes, pressies etc I make sure we take the dog for a nice long walk or have a good play in the park before hand which then buys me a couple of hours, so long as he has a couple of books, nibbles and drink to hand. Sling or pushchair works :)

Many of the shopping centres and shops themselves have special events and things to keep the little ones amused especially at this time of year.

Oxford Street
If I am honest, as Christmas approaches I would give Oxford Street etc a bit if a wide birth, unless you have the urge to take your little ones to Hamleys, Harrods or Selfridges, as the crowds can be pretty daunting when you are only a few feet tall! If visiting the best time would be midweek...

Westfield Shopping Centre in west London has a soft play area for under 5s to let off steam which is located next to Debenhams. There is also a great kids club where you will benefit from a variety of exclusive shop discounts and free kids meals throughout the shopping centre. There are family rooms, lots of car parking spaces and kiddy cars to keep the litlies entertained. Santa will be in his grotto and the award winning santa's ice kingdom is a must!

Canary Wharf Shops & Restaurants
Lots of free activitites for children throughout the shopping malls at weekends in December including art & craft workshops and festive face painting. And make sure you don’t forget to pay a visit to Santa and his helpers in his dazzling festive grotto.

The Riverside Hemel Hempstead
The Riverside shopping centre often have family events to break up the monotony of shopping for the kids. This Christmas they have some very special visitors, real penguins on Saturday 11th December.

Some of the garden centres are a good choice for a little festive fun... Our nearest is

Fantastic range of decorations, kitchen bits, clothes, books, toys, pet accessories, pots and of course plants! Father Christmas and ice rink add to the festivities and the resident animals in the petting area, including giant rabbits, goats, chickens, meerkats always delight our little chap, although the resident Turkey is always greeted with a worrying look, poor thing is not too attractive! Oh and almost forgot if that is not enough there is always the miniature railway to ride after a bite to eat at the child-friendly cafe.

and last but not least if you are looking for a Christmas market why not head down to Cologne Christmas market on the South Bank where you will also find Santas Secret Village or the fantastic Winter Wonderland in Hyde park with its selection of rides, lights and again Father Christmas and his friendly elves to keep the tots amused - oh and of course a market...

Basically make sure where ever you are going your tots are relaxed, not hungry, you are prepared with favourite treats and your destination has something to offer the little ones. Also a good idea to keep an eye on their moods, once the boredom level sets in, just as well to go home and start again another day!

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