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No walk in the park shopping with a toddler

Martin and Emma Muriithi have been married for two years and have a son, Liam, who turned two in July. They share their experience shopping with their tot in tow.

On matters shopping, she says, “Shopping with a toddler is unpredictable. You are never sure what to expect. There are good days, and some days straight from hell,” Emma says, laughing. She handles her woes by wearing running shoes and a simple outfit without jewellery.

Emma prepares extra clothes, toys, snacks, a diaper bag and lots of wipes for the toddler and ensures he is fed and has his diaper changed before leaving the house. She says it’s no fun having a hungry and irritable child in the store.

Leaving Liam at home is difficult due to both parents’ tight work schedules. Often, she shops on Saturday, considering it good exercise and baby’s day out. Emma’s preferences are stores that have coupe cars or shopping carts, to free her hands.

Her best days are Liam sitting quietly in his coupe car and letting her shop as he eats his popcorn; the worst days are when he gets out of the coupe car and she has to chase him all round the store. Worse than that, it’s pulling stuff off shelves when she’s not looking or throwing tantrums when he can’t get what he wants.

This, and having to apologise profusely is embarrassing. Emma recalls when the alarm at the exit went off because Liam picked an item on their way out. Interestingly, the boy is always well-behaved when dad tag along, which Emma owes to Martin’s not giving in to his whims.

The great shopping moments are worth it and Emma says of Liam, “He is a charmer, greets other kids and shop attendants, and is a little people person.

He is sweet and when he listens, we get the shopping done with my nerves intact.” She notices that people in shopping malls and supermarkets generally treat her better, even giving way for her to get to the till.

Shopping with a toddler when he is ill is not wise and is a sure recipe for clinginess and crankiness. Keeping a child distracted requires tact and there are times Emma or Martin will take Liam to another section to get his attention off his current demand.

She says, “I have mastered the art of ignoring stares I get when the tantrums start seeing as my son never hurts himself.” Emma does not spank Liam when he is acting-up but believes in reward and punishment for good or bad behaviour, a concept the two-year-old understands.

She says, “Liam also understands nyonyo (the breast), which he loves and which works for him as the ultimate gift.” She recalls how “Baby on board” sign once came in handy when Liam got off his car seat from the back chair, forcing Emma to breastfeed him for comfort but since then, she straps his seat at the front to avoid such surprises.

“Despite the drama, when he curls up and we look at his cute little face, fast asleep in our arms, it’s all worth the while. It makes us realise that we love our son to bits.”

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