Any shopping is hard with kids, am I right? But Op Shopping can actually be harder, and it’s for a few reasons. Firstly, the toys aren’t in packaging, they’re just waiting to be picked up and played with! It’s very hard to tell a child not to play with a toy that is not in packaging. Kids see a box of toys and they think ‘toy box’ – a place to play. Some Op Shops are very accommodating and accept that this area does become a place for kids to explore and play (while mum gets to shop!) … others not so much.
Secondly, no Op Shop I have ever been in, has a trolley … so it’s a pram or nothing. And if you have ever had to take a pram into an Op Shop that wasn’t designed to have a pram in it (I’m going to say most of them) … it isn’t much fun! Plus, let’s face it … the child in said pram, will most likely start screaming that they want to get out anyway.
And thirdly, there’s the battle to not bring home half the ‘toy box’ home when you leave! “But mum … they’re only one dollar!” And if we say no … can we actually handle the tantrum that follows? Perhaps that’s worth a dollar, and the money does go to charity.
In a nutshell, Op Shopping with kids in toe, isn’t always easy! But, it should be. Of all the shops and places we drag our kids and tell them “don’t touch” and “put it back”, I don’t think the Op Shop should be one of them. Taking my three girls Op Shopping has become one of our favourite school holiday activities, and I hope it becomes one of yours too!
Here are my 5 tips for making OP Shopping with the Kids a more enjoyable experience;
- Before entering the store, explain to your Kids, the importance of putting toys away after looking / playing with them. Volunteers work hard to keep stores organised and tidy, let’s support them in that. It’s also about the safety of other customers, usually space is limited and leaving toys out of place … can be a potential tripping hazard!
- Set boundaries on if, or what they can buy. Perhaps they have pocket money to spend, or maybe they may choose one item, maybe it’s a book or maybe it’s one toy. If it’s a toy, I use strict guidelines, it must not be missing any pieces or be broken in any way. It also must not be something similar to what they already have. I want to ensure they are not buying just for the sake of it. It’s important to encourage intentional purchases, and not just consumerism.
- On entering the store, I approach the Volunteer at the counter, I explain that my children will be looking and playing with the toys. But I assure the Volunteer that we will pick up everything before we leave, and leave the space as we found it. This relieves my anxiety, and allows me to enjoy my browsing without worrying that they will be ‘told off’. In my experience, the Volunteers respond very well to this and I haven’t had an issue since.
- When it’s time to leave, take the time to chat to your kids, ask them what they have found and why they want to buy it? Inspect the items with them, check they are in good condition and not broken or damaged. Talk about where the item is going to ‘live’ in your home? Will it have a spot on the bookcase? Or in their bedroom? Importantly, ensure the boundaries that you set before entering the Op Shop (Tip 2) are followed through at this point.
- Ensure the toy area is tidy, and left as you found it. Encourage your kids to thank the volunteers upon leaving.
Try these simple 5 tips next time you go Op Shopping with your kids. Hopefully it will lead to a fun and enjoyable visit!
Thanks for reading,