With half term fast approaching you may be planning all your fun days out with the children, the parks, zoo trips or maybe even the circus or perhaps you are planning for a week away on holiday.
The last thing on your mind is taking them on a shopping trip with you – lets face it shopping with kids in tow can be both stressful and costly however sometimes it’s just unavoidable.
I recently took both my children shopping with me to The Meadows Shopping Centre in Chelmsford and not only did we have a great we also managed to keep to a strict budget too.
I knew I wanted to get my holiday clothes picked out while I was there and of course this is boring for children so I went straight to a shop for them first so they were able to spend their pocket money.
My children get £5 pocket money each a week which they usually spend on a magazine and a few sweets, I try to encourage them to save a little but of course it always burns a hole in their pockets and it’s gone as soon as they hear the ice-cream van in the evenings.
I do buy my children a lot of things but try to teach them the value of money at the same time, so if Emmy does want the newest LOL doll which costs £11 she has to save up for it herself.
Our first shop we visited was The Works, it is somewhere I know they can easily spend their £5 pocket money and come out with a few items…..although in Emmy’s case she could happily spend half an hour dithering between two different squashies!
The often have deals on such as 2 for £5 or buy 2 get one free.
While here I also stocked up on things to help amuse the children on our long car journeys – we are off to Cornwall again soon and this is a 6 hour drive. I like to stock up on new colouring books, stickers, work books and mini toys to put into a box in the back of the car between the kids – I also wrap a few of the new toys up giving them something new every hour or so – wind up toys, puzzles etc, all purchased cheaply for the in-store deals. My favourite purchase was the Early Years workbooks which were on offer for £1 each, they also had some Stage 2 workbooks for Emmy for £1 too so I stocked up on the Maths and English ones for her.
Having a few toys to distract them meant I was able to whizz around the clothes shops and get my holiday shopping done and they didn’t complain once!
A pit-stop was needed after as they had been so good, completely spoilt for choice on which flavour Ice-cream they of course wanted to try a few different ones but we compromised on 2 scoops.
Do you have a favourite ice-cream flavour? Harry’s is vanilla which Emmy is far too much like me and opted for chocolate. Not fancying an ice-cream myself I headed for a cake from BB’s instead.
Next up was a trip to Hawkins Bazaar, a favourite with us all. Paul was eying up the drones and remote control cars while Emmy was rather taken with the idea of a bug pizza….until I told her she would have to eat the bugs too and she soon changed her mind – apparently these were selling really fast that weekend due to the price, being snapped up just for the pizza dough and sauce, I would like to think no-one was eating the mealworms but you never know!
Harry picked up a whoopie cushion while Emmy treated herself to some more slime with her left over money.
After all that shopping it was time to stop for lunch, we decided to head to Preto, which is a Brazilian Steak house. It was our first visit and it certainly won’t be our last – the kids loved it as much as we did, Harry perhaps a little too much. In Preto, you choose your salad and sides from the salad bar and then the meat is brought over to your table and carved onto your plate directly, use can try all the different types of meat and ate as much as you would like. You can read our review here.
We then decided to finish our day with a trip to the cinema, there is an Odeon at The Meadows so we headed off to see Sherlock Gnomes.
I had planned this cinema trip in advance so to save money I exchanged my Tesco Clubcard vouchers for Odeon cinema tickets – you can get an Adult ticket for £4.50 in clubcard vouchers and a Child’s ticket for £3.50 in vouchers, this meant our cinema trip cost £16 in clubcard vouchers instead of the £42.50 it should have cost (or essentially was free!).
Of course, no cinema trip is complete without pick & mix so we headed into Wilko’s before to take advantage of their 1/2 price pick & mix counter.
This was a shopping trip which we really all did enjoy and with no arguments – perhaps our first shopping trip with the kids where they didn’t moan about shopping with us! I’m calling that a huge win.
***Posted in collaboration with The Meadows Shopping Centre**