Step 1: Have a slight hangover.
You JUST hosted a huge family gathering for your in-laws. Having a few beers kept you sane, right? Let the fun keep on rolling the next morning when your 4-year-old jumps on your pounding head to wake you up because you promised him you would go to the toy store today if he would eat his vegetables at dinner last night. An extra cup of coffee is exactly what your slightly nauseated stomach needs.
Step 2: Be open to the possibilities.
If you really want to have a blast, then you should go to the toy store without having any real purpose other than using the gift card that has been burning a hole in your son’s dirt-covered shorts since the moment he got it from a well-intentioned relative. When your child has no idea what he wants, you get to spend hours – HOURS – walking up and down aisles filled with toys he doesn’t need for a price that outweighs the balance on that gift card.
Step 3: Don’t feed the kids before you go.
A trip perfectly timed trip right before lunch is ideal because then the kids are a little hungry. Nothing spells “success” quite like two starving little monsters drooling at the sight of brightly colored plastic you can’t afford. When their tummies start rumbling so loud it sets off the motion-activated dinosaurs, remember that some super unhealthy snacks are right by the checkout. You’ll need to fill the kids up with sugar if you want to get the most out of your time at the toy store, anyway.
Step 4: Let the kids out of the cart.
Children are meant to explore! Never mind that you forgot the 2-year-old’s shoes at home. That little girl’s feet smacking against the hard floor gives you audible clues as to where she is when she runs away from you. As a bonus, the “girl” toys are on one side of the store and the “boy” toys are on the other, so the kids will split up and give your heart an AMAZING workout. “Where are they? I’ve lost them both!” you’ll fret, sprinting from aisle to aisle while pushing an empty cart. Who needs the gym when you can do this?
Step 5: Teach your child math in one of the aisles.
The child thinks “eleventy” is a number, but I’m sure he’ll grasp that his $40 gift card can’t afford the $42.99 toy. You’ll have plenty of teachable moments as he points from shelf to shelf, asking, “Is this one $40? Is this one $40? Which one is $40?” Watch as his head almost explodes when you tell him he can afford to get the toy for $9.99 AND the one for $14.99. Because 4-year-olds are super logical, he’ll probably scream that he only wants one toy for $40 and nothing else. What a fun scavenger hunt that will be!
Step 6: Give in to whatever your kid wants.
The toy is too scary? Too expensive? Too loud? Oh well! Kids run the show, you’re just lucky if they do what you ask them to. Your children will still grow up to be responsible, ethical adults if you give into their every demand. Just say “yes” instead of having those awful conversations where you have to tell your child “no” and list all the reasons why he can’t have the Jurassic World Lego set that costs more than your weekly grocery bill.
Step 7: Get all the way to checkout before realizing you forgot the damn gift card.
Look, leaving the house is hard enough when all you have to remember is the car keys. Don’t worry about double-checking to make sure that you brought the ONE THING you really needed, the reason you drove 25 minutes to this particular store. When you get to the checkout and discover that you left the gift card on the counter, you can just laugh it off. You just got to spend two glorious hours sweating off last night’s pizza and beer. And when you drag your screaming, toyless children out of the store, don’t fret; all the parents watching you are definitely not judging you.