I’ve developed certain tactics over the years to cope with
fucking torturous , challenging situations with my little demons.
Obviously these vary from child to child and I’ve had to adjust them as such. For example the boy is fairly chilled out when it comes to food, the kraken will murder you with her fork if baked bean juice touches any other food on her plate. I have to make adjustments in my plans for her ridiculousness. Sometimes though, the same thing works for both of them.
Just for you, every so often I’ll write up some tricky situations, and give you my secret tactics on how we cope with them. Fingers crossed it helps someone.
With it being half term, I thought I’d start with a situation everyone will probably encounter at some point this week…
Museum or attraction gift shops
These are a huge pet hate of mine. Normally you’ve paid a small fortune to go in somewhere. You’ve spent the entire day saying “don’t touch that” “don’t climb on that” “put your clothes on” (is that last one just me?) After all that you’re ready to just collapse into the car and pray they go to sleep on the way home. Before you can do that, you have to run the gift shop gauntlet 😱
I have a particular brand of hatred reserved for places that make it impossible for you to leave without going through their own array of tat and crap that you don’t want in your house.
I’ve tried saying “you’ve got £5 each, spend it wisely” but in the same way the smallest idiot can’t tell the time, or know what day it is, she also doesn’t know what £5 is or what it can buy. That leads to “can I get this?” “No” “this?” “No” “this?” “No” Boring and time consuming, and also will inevitably lead to a meltdown. Me or her, whichever one breaks first.
The boy knows exactly what £5 is, and what he can get for £5. But he’s crafty, he’ll pick something for £7.50 and then try to bargain with me…”next time we go out I’ll only spend £2.50″ nice try. He knows I’ll never remember that. He also relies heavily on the fact that his sister is a massive arsehole and I’m normally too busy prising her sticky hands off some shit or other to notice what he’s buying.
That tactic just isn’t an option anymore, it was still way too stressful. So here’s what to do…
When they’re little and you start having days out that they’re aware of, pick something that is just theirs to collect, that you know they sell in every gift shop. For us, the boy has magnets, the kraken has key rings. It could be pencils, notepads, rubbers. Anything fairly cheap will do. DO NOT PICK SOFT TOYS, YOU WILL FILL YOUR HOUSE WITH THEM WITHOUT EVEN REALISING. It also needs to be something small, that can be easily
hidden out of sight stored neatly. Before you get in the gift shop you prep them and get them all excited. “Ooh, it’s nearly time to pick your magnet/key ring/pencil/rubber/whatever.” (You don’t have to say ooh, that might make you sound a bit like a knob.)
Then, on entry, direct them straight to their objects. This might take a few goes. You have to condition them, it’s a bit like training a dog. If they go where you want them to, they get a reward 😂. Mine now realise, they aren’t getting anything else, there’s no point asking, so they might as well spend their time picking exactly the magnet and keyring they want, because there’s a real chance they could end up with nothing.
It’s also important that this exercise happens quickly. You need to be at the till paying within a couple of minutes. Too long and they start getting distracted, and wandering over to the books, board games, and even worse, the cuddly toys. In and out. That’s the secret.
I have one exception to this rule, and that’s the Natural History Museum. Their gift shop is really cool and has loads of stuff in it that I want, so we’re allowed to spend hours in there 😂😂 I make the rules, so I can break the rules.
Good luck with all your gift shop excursions!!