I have a problem. Or to be more accurate: My whole family has a problem. Me, Ty, and even our daughter Abby.
There exists a place that when we cross the threshold, we lose all our common sense. We wear goofy, excited grins. Visions of “what if” dance behind our eyes. And we can’t keep our hands to ourselves.
This place is Target.
I’m certainly not the first to lament the phenomenon that is Target. You walk in to pick up deodorant and a bag of cat food, and you walk out with that, plus apple pie-flavored coffee, washi tape, and a case of blue mason jars. You have no idea what you’ll do with a case of blue mason jars, but A CASE! FOR TEN DOLLARS! You’d be silly to pass up that kind of a deal, really.
My particular weakness right now is all the super cute Christmas home decor—glittery reindeer and a patchwork quilt fox and this scene† in a snow globe? YES, PLEASE. Ty’s got it bad for Dove chocolates and string lights. And Abby’s drawn to…everything, actually. By the end of a Target shopping trip after she’s heard “no” approximately 427 times, she’s pouting, whining, even out-and-out defiant—or on a good day, all three at once.
Something Has to Change
We tried logic first.
“If we spend all our money on stuff we don’t need, we wouldn’t be able to pay for our house or cars or electricity or food.”
But it didn’t stop her wanting.
Our next try was a little more effective.
I created a note in Evernote called “Abby’s Wish List.”
Anytime she asks for something in the store, I say: “We can’t get that today, but I can add it to your wish list.” Then I pull up the note on my phone, type the name of the item, and show her the list.
She likes this a lot. And it works most of the time.
But Here’s the Root of the Problem
She sees us succumb to temptation. Every. Single. Time.
We ask her to practice restraint and keep a running wish list, while we impulse buy.
I cannot think of a single trip to Target (or the grocery store, for that matter) where we haven’t walked out with something extra not on the original shopping list.
As giddy as our little Target treats make me, I had to admit we would all benefit from shopping with a little more intention. Even 5 dollars here and there adds up. Not to mention we were setting a bad example.
What Happens When You Parent by the Seat of Your Pants
Our last weekend with Abby, we all piled into the car for a trip to our favorite temptress.
On the list: a couple strands of Christmas lights and baby shoes—to keep Bailey’s socks on her feet in the cold weather.
Ty pulled into a parking spot, and I had an idea.
I turned in my seat to face everyone. “Okay, now let’s remember before we go in. Target has a magic spell over us.”
At the word “magic,” Abby’s eyes got big.
I continued. “Every time we go in there, we see all this stuff we want. And it’s like we can’t control ourselves, we just want, want, want! We need to be strong and not let the magic spell be the boss of us.”
Ty smiled. Abby nodded. Bailey chewed on her socks.
The Real Test
Inside the store, the first section we passed was girls’ clothes. Of course. Target ain’t no dummy.
Abby pointed to a purse shaped like a puppy. “Look at! That’s so cute.”
“Oh man,” I said. “Their magic spell is already getting us!”
“Yeah.” Her arm dropped. “It’s like, they have so much cute stuff, we just want it all.”
“It’s EXACTLY like that,” I agreed.
We moved on. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
A couple minutes later, Abby ran ahead to the kids’ movie display and picked up a DVD light on plot and heavy on princesses.
When we caught up to her, she said, “I wish I could watch this movie.”
“I know!” I said. “It’s like magic, right? We can hardly control ourselves.”
Abby put the movie down and kept walking with us.
Huh, I thought. Could this actually work?
We got to the baby shoes, picked out a pair that looked 100% Bailey-proof (spoiler: they weren’t), and headed to the Christmas area.
The owls. The glitter. The prepackaged Christmas cheer at a perfectly reasonable price.
I picked up a teal mercury glass owl. Swoon.
“Isn’t this adorable?” I held it up to Ty and Abby.
“Aww,” Abby said.
To Ty, I said, “It’s only twelve bucks.”
“No, Mommy. You have to put it back.”
I laughed. “You’re right! I let the magic spell get me.”
I put the owl back and smiled at Ty. “She catches on fast.”
Then we came to a white reindeer figurine.
I pointed. “Look! That would go perfect with our glittery reindeer we picked up last year.”
“How much is it?” Ty asked.
“Not bad,” he said.
I reached a hand out to the poor little homeless reindeer.
“Mommy, no! It’s getting you again.”
“Oh,” I said. Pulled my hand back.
I turned to Ty. “Whose idea was this, anyway?”
Did It Really Work?
Abby didn’t whine or pout once. We didn’t even have to whip out the wish list.
Then on our way out, we passed by the coffee aisle and remembered we were low in that department.
We spent a couple minutes standing in front of the sea of flavors and settled on one.
“But Mommy,” Abby said. “That wasn’t on our list.”
“I know,” I said. “But trust me, you won’t like it if we run out of coffee. We’ll be like hangry, only a million times grumpier.”
She was quiet for a few seconds. Then: “Okay, you can get coffee.”
So yeah, it worked. A little too well.
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How do you take your kids shopping and escape with minimal whining? Share in a comment below!