What? You don’t have kids that just sit there nicely while you shop?!! HA!
Stink eye at the fabric store. We’ve all been there. You know, when you *gasp* scrounge up the courage and dare to bring your kids with you to the fabric store for the much needed supplies. Sometimes you get lucky and are able to make it out without incident. But more often than not, especially if you have young ones, you end up chasing after one through the fabric aisles as they ‘hide’, while the other wails uncontrollably that they want to get out of the cart. We sympathize, we really do, it happens to us all. For some reason the fabric store turns our kids into lunatics. This kid transforming phenomenon seems to be exclusive to fabric stores, adult clothing stores, and banks or post offices. Basically, any place where your attention wanders from your child.
And then the stink eye sets it.
You may get the occasional sympathetic glance, but more often than not – it’s stink eye. Employees are mad they have to put up with your kids, and perhaps their mess. Fellow shoppers don’t want to hear it (not that I blame them – I don’t want to hear it either). And heaven forbid there is a fabric cutting line. Oy vey.
As much as everyone would prefer you to leave the kids at home while you shop, it is quite simply not a reality for most of us. Some day, some where, fabric stores will wise up and put in a TOY SECTION for playing kids, (ahem – giving the parents more time to shop and spend money)…but until that day – here are some tips to help get you through.
How to Shop for Fabric with Kids Successfully.
1. Go First Thing in the Morning.
I am talking, when the store first opens up. For some reason unbeknownst to me – my kids are on their best behavior early in the day. Perhaps they are more rested after a long night’s sleep. I have found that by going at 9am – I have my highest success rate of getting through the fabric store without incident. My kids are well fed, store workers haven’t yet had a long work day, and my kids are on their best behavior. I swear by this method.
2. Bring a Pad & Paper.
You see this post by Melly Sews (see image below)? That is a genius Mom move right there. I keep about 4 different color pens in my purse at all times, and usually can scrounge up some paper. By asking the kids to draw what they want me to make them, or draw whatever they want, I can usually buy myself about 5 – 10 minutes of browse time. It’s not much, but it is just enough to make it through the button aisle without them grabbing everything inside of the cart.
3. Task Them.
For the older ones, say 4 yrs. and up, I task them out. They will ‘help’ me find the thread, or the color fabric I am looking for, or zippers…whatever it is I need. I give them my list as we go, by occupying their minds it seems to help them stay focused and with me, for most of the time. The hardest part with this one is keeping them from arguing over who gets to put it in the cart (it’s always something, isn’t it?).
4. Have a list.
If you are at the fabric store for browsing, or with no real need in mind, good luck. I don’t find I am ever successful with this method. My kids are quite simply not equipped with the ‘let’s let our Mom just enjoy herself while she browses through all of the fabric aisles’ gene. But if I go into the fabric store with a list of what I need, as I would with a grocery store, I find I am personally more focused and can get us in and out faster – keeping my kids happier.
5. Make it Fun.
I know, you are tired. The last thing you want to do is work harder when trying to just get through the fabric store. It stinks sometimes, especially when you are going on little to no sleep. But it’s called being a Mom. And by putting on your cruise ship coordinator hat and entertaining your kids while fabric shopping, you will find less and less stink eye being thrown your way. Entertain them with Simon Says (simon says touch you knees, simon says touch your ear, simon says be a statue, touch the pink fabric! ooh, I didn’t say Simon says!). Entertain them with finding their favorite character fabric fleece, play eye spy, or when all else fails – hand over the elusive smart phone. Just make sure it has a kid-friendly protective case!!! Trust me, I know from first-hand experience that fabric store floors do not go well with glass phone screens.
6. Bring your Husband Along.
HA! Have him bring the kids outside while you shop. Then he’ll be the one giving you the stink eye as he eyes his watch when you say ‘just 5 more minutes’, versus your fellow customers. But beware, try this one too many times and you will find an unwilling shopping partner in the future.
I am lucky enough that a Trader Joes happens to be next door to our local fabric shop. My bribe? We can go into Traders Joe’s if they are good and find the turtle for a lollipop. Or we just might go to the bouncy house afterwards, the library, or whatever works for your child! I know, I am an awful parent – bribery – yuk. I never thought I would resort to this method pre-kids. But sometimes – a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. PS – bribery works for the aforementioned #6 as well – Lol.
8. Involve them in your Purchasing Decisions.
This goes hand in hand with tasking, but is geared a bit more for older kids. Let them have a say in what you make, especially if it is for them! You will find way less ‘do I have to’ groans, if they feel like have a say in what you make. Let them browse the pattern books, pick out a favorite fabric, or even choose your thread color. This will not only help you get through the fabric store, but will also encourage a love for the art of sewing so that someday soon you will be hearing the blessed words, ‘Mom, can you teach me how to make this?!’. My heart just melted.
9. Shop on-line.
It may require some planning ahead, but my goodness – there is a reason on-line shops are thriving! We can shop at our leisure, make nice impulse buys, and even search for coupon codes before hitting the ‘buy now’ button. What’s best? We can do it during nap time. I love you on-line fabric store. You are every sewing mom’s best friend.
10. Have courage.
You CAN do this! If all else fails and your kids are just miserable. That is OK too. It is OK to have a kid misbehave, it is OK to go fabric shopping, it is OK to look like a hot mess some of the time. You are a Mom, you are a superhero to your little one, and you are human.
And to the many store clerks who gave me stink eye throughout the years…
I know, you are just doing your job. And nobody likes it when a 3 year old comes into your haven and starts screaming. But please, try to remember that you were young once too with small kids of your own (or will have kids someday), and that just because we are Mothers of young children, doesn’t mean we have to forfeit our right to sew. Or shop. We don’t want our kids to misbehave as much as you don’t want them too. We are trying our best. Aaaaaaand have I mentioned that you need to set up a toy area play section yet? Yeah, can you get on that? Like stat.