Friday, April 22, 2011

Thrifting with Kiddos--My Survival Guide.

I am hoping this is one of those blog Posts where the comments are just as interesting (if not more!) as the Post itself. I am curious to know how people with young kids are able to thrift as much as they do. Are your kids in school? With a sitter? Home with Daddy? Or frequently along for the ride, like mine are? I have a few tips and tricks that have worked for me--both to assuage my guilt for dragging my 2 and 4 year old with me and to let them have a little fun, too!
Three essentials in my survival kit are pictured above--a good, crunchy snack, a mini notebook, and a calculator(mine is an el cheapo freebie).
  • A snack is downright mandatory for us. I make sure its semi-healthy and not messy--pretzels, gorp, almonds, dry cereal, rice cakes, etc. We probably make a trail-Hansel and Gretel style---thru the store, but no one has complained yet. Although my kids expect a snack, they know they have to wait for it. We have our regular routine--Shoes, housewares, books, linens----they don't get their snack until we have at least made it to the book section. A nice full snack bag keeps their little (hand-sanitized) hands busy for quite awhile.
  • A mini notebook and clip on pencil or pen has a ton of uses for us. Free form doodling, sketching an item we see, practicing letters and numbers, writing our name...I can even jot a few things down that I am looking for and the kids can cross them off as we find 'em.
  • A simple calculator started out as a phone for my eldest son. He'd have conversations on the calculator as we walked thru the store--me pretending to be whomever he was calling. Now it has morphed into a number learning tool. I tell him what to type in (we are doing double digit numbers) or I will type something in and he has to guess the number. We have started doing very rudimentary adding and subtracting too! My two year old just likes to punch in a bunch of numbers and hit the clear button! Magic!
Another game we have started recently was adapted from trips to Trader Joe's. Before we arrive at the store, we decide on a few things to "search" for. We go from easy (Find something striped, or something green) to more difficult (Find Santa riding a sleigh). Last week, in honor of mid-april snow in the Midwest, we searched for a snowman. We found some ( a candle holder with three snowmen) about 2/3 of the way thru our thrifting trip.

Along with these ideas for some kid fun, I take comfort in the fact that thrifting with my kids has begun to teach them about reuse, repurposing, and the fact that not everything we get has to be brand new.

Now for the best part! Please comment with your tips and tricks for thrifting with kiddos!! I can't wait to read your great ideas!!

*BETH* from fuzzymama


  1. I love this post! Thank you Beth, for sharing your tips and ideas :)

    It is funny that you do the "search" game, because I do that with my 3 1/2 year old too!
    I have actually gone through the whole alphabet, find something that starts with the A sound, etc. (that was at a big new shop that we had not been to before, so a long trip!)
    I always have a bag with me, and it always has in it: cars (an absolute must have with my little guy), a pad of paper and a crayon roll (purchased on Etsy and love it), snacks and a drink.
    Then I add different things each time we go out: small books because he loves to read to me, an old cellphone for play, little plates and cups so he can serve us "lunch", etc., etc.
    When we are lucky, my sister comes along and then I can switch off with her for amusing my little man :)

  2. Love the alphabet game idea! Thanks for sharing, I love hearing what others do.

  3. I always have my kids with me when I go. Sometimes we hit the book section first, and I get them some new books. They are excited to look at them while I shop for other things.

    Other than that I just try to make conversation with them about anything.

    They invariably get worn out before I do, though - so I love some of these new ideas!

  4. What an awesome post! These tips are going to come in handy someday when I have two kids to take to the thrift store! Right now, my only strategy is to bring a snack/drink and to let him play with the toys we find in the store. Luckily for me he doesn't ever think we are taking these toys home. I sometimes drag a toy from the store that he finds interesting around with us and put it down right next to me while I look at a certain section. When he wants a different one we go back to the toys and pick a different one for him to play with. Other then that, I just hope that the snack will last long enough for me to see all I want to see!

  5. I think I have a problem repeating the same word twice in the same sentence. Dang, I just did it again!

  6. one thing i ALWAYS have in my car for thrift trips is the CART COVER! This serves 2 great purposes, i don't have to worry as much about germs or the baby (now toddler) TEETHING on the cart and if the thrift's carts don't have belts (which many do not) he's still strapped in. Harry (almost 2) and i try to thrift when tru's (almost 5) at school but i would say at least once a week i have them both with me. i use the same tricks, iphone music or games, books, toys in the cart and i always make tru stay where i can see him. luckily they usually put the baby clothes by the toys. i hardly ever get a chance to thrift for ME so when i get solo missions, it's a treat!!

  7. this is the cart cover we have:

    it has belts ON it so it's awwwwsome!! ties to the cart.

  8. Great post! Thrifting used to be a lot easier when my little guy was a baby. Now that he's two, we definitely go less often. I also make sure to go during our morning snack time and I purposely bring a snack or two that take a long time to eat, such as goldfish or cereal pieces. Like missshapes, my guy knows that we are going to go to the toy section or book section first and find some entertainment for the cart :).

  9. Did you guys notice over at Modern Kiddo she had a similar post today? Weird!

  10. oh man, it's so great to hear some new ideas. my daughter is 20 months now, and it's getting more and more difficult to go thrifting. she can't say what she wants, and she doesn't always understand when i tell her what i want her to do, which is so hard. unfortunately, several of our thrifting trips lately have been cut short because she just wants to walk all over the store! the biggest problem is that she HATES shopping carts. she refuses to sit in one right now, i don't know why. even if i bring her absolute favorite treat, (yogurt covered pretzels!) she still wants out of the cart.
    so here's a question - do you ever put your child in the "cart" part of the shopping cart? like lynxymama said, a lot of the carts don't have straps in the seat part! so i've been wondering if it's completely horrible to put her in the "cart" part? i feel like she would enjoy it so much more because she can sit and have some room to play, but i also know that it's kind of a dangerous alternative, no matter how close i stay to the cart! i'd love to hear some opinions! (i see other people doing it all the time, but is it completely frowned upon?)

    lately, i've just been going by myself. luckily there are a few stores that are open until nine, so i can go after my husband gets home from work. or i wake up early on his days off and have some alone time! :)

  11. Whitney...I do let my two year old sit in the back part of the cart provided he does not stand up. He tries to stand, but I stop the cart and don't go further until he sits. If I bring enough snacks and things to do, its not a problem. But, yes, he too, refuses to sit in the front portion. I try to pick the cleanest cart and def. hand sanitize b4 any snack and after. I know its not an ideal place to sit, but I try to make it as safe as possible. I figure its cleaner than letting him walk around and touch everything else!

  12. I've tried to let Cohen sit in the back part of the cart a few times and it worked for me only once. The other times he just kept standing up and I ended up getting really frustrated trying to get him to stay down. I think I've let him get out too many times so he knows he can have more fun OUT of the cart. :-)

  13. I was one of those moms that was very "against" letting little ones in that part of the cart until I had two kids and my oldest was what we like to call a "runner!" He just had to be contained somehow and my littlest is usually in the seat part of the cart. He's a little big for it now, but I'm still not above putting him in their if he is not minding me while walking.


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