I am about to tell those of you with toddlers something you already know–and for those of you with sweet, quiet, drowsy newborns, who will sleep through an entire shopping trip, this is something you will find out next year at this time: Shopping with babies, toddlers and kids can be hard–so hard you’d rather push a cart of hungry goats around the store than your own children.

Cooper is two and a half–and not in any sort of daycare or preschool–and we hardly have a babysitter. I do all the grocery shopping with him either running ahead of me or behind me, narrowly being hit by other distracted shoppers, or sitting in the cart, which means I am constantly trying to find different distractions (bribes) to keep him from climbing out–snacks, toys, my cell phone OR he’s trying to climb out anyway. The safety straps on shopping carts have never made my children any safer. If they want out, they wiggle out, no matter how hard I try to stuff them back in.

This brings me to my next dilemma: how to do holiday shopping with Cooper? Sure I can do some on the weekends when my husband is home…but often I’d rather use that time to do something else, like go for a long walk all by myself. Cooper is still young enough that I could manage to buy things without him noticing, stuffing them under my jacket in the bottom of the cart…but just taking him into the toy aisle is a recipe for disaster. His initial gasp of surprise and delight when he sees the perfect Monster Truck is adorable, “Oh! See DAT, mom. See dat Monster Truck?” The screaming and flailing that ensue after we keeping going without stopping to pick one up are not so cute.

To avoid this, I’ve started doing most of my holiday shopping on-line. This means that I can read reviews while sitting in peace after the kids are in bed and browse for as long as I want. I’ve also discovered a website called Ebates that gives me cash back for my online shopping which is an added bonus. There is no catch. I simply go to the Ebates site first, click on the store at which I want to shop and it takes me directly to their site. I can even get up to five percent cash back on plane tickets which is great because air travel for a family of five is no small cost.

So, as this holiday season is about to start, whether you are shopping for Hanukkah, Christmas or another holiday, let’s all remember to be extra kind to that mommy with her cart of shrieking children, frantically trying to hide gifts under her jacket. She needs an understanding smile from her Mommrades (aka Mommy Commrades) to give her the courage to shop on.

How do you manage to do your holiday shopping each year despite your little tag-alongs? Do you ever shop online? Please share your funny stories of toddler-wrangling, shopping tips, or clever ways to save money. Happy Holidays!

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