HOW TO SURVIVE SHOPPING WITH THE KIDS
By Kerry Dolan
Very few women refuse the opportunity to go shopping.
Be it hardcore holiday spending, wedding outfit planning or just browsing – hitting the stores can sometimes be as therapeutic as an afternoon at the spa.
Shopping with the kids however is never quite as appealing. Kids and shops are not a match made in heaven. There isn’t a Mum out there that hasn’t endured a nightmarish shopping trip with her kids.
But what’s a girl to do on a sunny Saturday when the kids are bored and the other half has escaped to the footie?
We have good news. There is a way you can get your shopping fix and keep the kids happy without resorting to sugar based bribes or experiencing tantrums from the underworld.
London has a plethora of shopping areas, ensuring the kids can be entertained while you bag yourself a treat meaning you can return home without any extra grey hairs.
The perfect place to start is Covent Garden. A glorious haven of street entertainers, individual market stalls and live music all mixed with high street shopping for Mum - what’s not to like?
The buzzing piazza is a regular host to street performers that will keep the kids fascinated and a visit to Benjamin Pollocks Toy Shop will keep them happy. If that’s not enough, you can pop them into the London Transport museum before stopping off in one of the many eateries for an emergency milkshake.
Westfield Stratford City
Not for the fainthearted. Most kid’s faces will involuntarily fall once they see you heading for a shop filled mall, but the introduction of Kidzania may change their minds. Kidzania is an indoor city run entirely by kids and if there's space you can buy tickets on the door (although we recommend buying online in advance).
There is also a multitude of child-friendly restaurants and just across the road lies the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. We did say that bribes were not required, but a miniscule one could be applied here. They can let off some steam in the gardens and play area if they promise you half an hour’s moan-free shopping, plus there’s a café there for that all-important cappuccino.
A good range of high street stores perfect for browsing and once the kids are bored you can surprise them with a trip to Mudchute Farm. A couple of stops on the DLR will take you to Crossharbour station and after a brief 10-minute walk, you're face to face with over 30 acres of countryside without having to leave East London. While you're there, take a visit to Mudchute Farm which is open every day and free of charge to enter. It's a working farm with stables and educational activities so there’s plenty for the little ones to enjoy here.
If you’re drawn to the hub of central London’s big stores then why not stop off at St James’ Park and let the kids enjoy watching the much-loved resident pelicans. Louis, Vaclav and Gargi’s feeding time is every day between 2.30 and 3.00 pm, where they are treated to fresh fish. Stop off next to Duck Island Cottage for the free show.
Knightsbridge + Kensington
Up-market Knightsbridge and Kensington High Street have plenty to dazzle Mum, but very little to occupy the little people. But we have a plan. After a visit to Harrods, take a trip to the easily accessible Kensington Gardens to find the Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground.
Dedicated to the late princess, the huge wooden pirate ship provides enough climbing and role play practise they could ever want. Dig your toes into the sand and channel your inner pirate.
If you have Harry Potter fans, you have the extraordinary chance to indulge in some retail therapy and impress the kids. Kings Cross is home to Platform 9 ¾, located within the beautifully restored station offering some excellent selfie opportunities.
Spread further magic by visiting the Harry Potter store for this kids. You can then sample the shops with names such as Jigsaw and Cath Kidston located there. On the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month you can also explore Canopy Market with its array of stalls and street food.
If we haven’t covered your favourite shopping heaven that keeps the kids entertained while you shop, then please let us know in the comments.