How to Survive Black Friday Shopping With Kids

Black Friday shopping with kids

If you are considering Black Friday shopping with kids, you are one brave soul.

No, I’ve never been Black Friday shopping with kids before, nor am I brave enough ever to attempt something like that. I have four kids; they’re small. They’re 7, 4 and the twins are only 20 months. I love my kids, but I always like them best when they are asleep. Why? Because when they wake up after a good night’s sleep, they are well-rested and much nicer than they are when they are tired and exhausted – which sometimes happens. So, I will never go Black Friday shopping with my kids, because I like for them to sleep and be rational tiny humans the following day rather than sleep-deprived animals (and don’t even pretend your kids are fine when they are sleep deprive, because I’m calling lies right now on that one, people).

However, I do know that some people simply cannot resist the sales, the deals, the fistfights, the anger and the long lines of Black Friday shopping, even with kids. That means there are plenty of people out and about shopping on this day (how? How do you Black Friday shop with your kids right there looking at their gifts being placed in your cart?) with kids in tow. While I personally would not do it, I don’t have any ill will toward those who do. Have at it, brave souls; have at it.

The only concern I have about Black Friday shopping with kids as far as others are concerned is their safety. In all honesty, I’m not a fan of Black Friday shopping in general because it seems so unsafe to me. Why? I’ll tell you what I think about when I think of Black Friday shopping:

  • Drunk Drivers shopping after a long day of throwing back bottle after bottle of wine with the extended family
  • Overly exhausted drivers falling asleep at the wheel
  • Creepy people out prowling dark parking lots looking for women they can shove into open van doors and assault
  • Thieves looking for unsuspecting, distracted shoppers they can rob
  • Crazies
  • That one lady that will tackle you to the ground if you pick up that last $3 DVD because she’s not paying the full $4 for it the following day
  • Long lines
  • Longer lines

If you want to go Black Friday shopping with kids, go for it; but please learn that you have to keep them safe, protected and you have to be able to focus on the kids and the sales at the same time. If you are going to go Black Friday shopping with kids, take our advice and learn who you can best survive this night and the following day so that everyone remains safe and sound, and you don’t lose your patience (or, you know, a kid).

Leave them Home

Ha ha, funny, right? No, seriously; if you want to survive Black Friday shopping with kids, leave their little behinds home with someone else. Leave them home with your spouse so that they can all sleep. Ask a sitter to come for the night. Ask a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, someone you trust completely, to stay the night so you can shop and come home in the morning. Sure, you’ll be tired; but at least you will be the only one tired. I cannot image what life might be like when you are sleep deprived and your kids are sleep deprived. They’re enough work when they’re well-rested, right? Leave them home; and that’s how you survive Black Friday shopping with kids.

Lower your Expectations

All right, I’m not a big fan of lowered expectations. However, I am a fan of creating realistic expectations for things like Black Friday shopping with kids. Let’s be honest here; you are not about to take a kid shopping and have 100% pure bliss. There will be some sort of forgotten item, some sort of inconvenient bathroom moment, and there is always the fact that small kids mean you have to push a stroller and not a cart.

Go into Black Friday shopping with kids with an open mind; anything could happen. You could have a great experience, or a terrible experience. Just lower your expectations so that you have none, and you will probably leave with a much better feeling than you imagined.

Prep Your Kids

If there is one thing that I have learned in the 7 years I’ve been a parent, it’s that my own kids are much more predictable and much more likely to behave if they are prepared for things they are not familiar with. If I were to go Black Friday shopping with kids of my own, I’d work on prepping them for a while. I’d talk to them about it. I’d let them ask me questions about it. I’d make it sound fun, ask them how they want to be involved, and I’d allow them to prep themselves for this evening of shopping and (no-so) fun. I don’t know about your kids, of course. However, if you plan on Black Friday shopping with kids this year, go ahead and prepare them for it in the next week leading up to the big day and/or night.

Shop Later

Black Friday shopping with kids does not have to happen at 2 am. You can wait, you know. Why not wait until later in the day when the crazies are back home and the stores are a bit emptier? You’re going to miss some of the deals, but you’re still going to find that the bulk of the sales are going on and you’re going to see that you can shop, and shop effectively, later in the day. It’s not a bad idea, so give it a try and see if you can do it.

Bring a Friend

Do you have a friend or relative you can bring with, if your spouse is not an option? For example, my husband is a banker and usually works the day after Thanksgiving, so he’s never been an option for me. However, this year he’s taken the week off so we can go Black Friday shopping together (without our kids). However, if you are Black Friday shopping with kids, why not bring someone along so that when you are looking at a deal for them, you can put them in the car with the other person, send them to the food court, or just distract them someway, somewhere else. Also, it is nice to have some help with the kids when you are trying to shop, trying to be a mom and trying to be everything for everyone at the same time. A partner in crime is a good one; especially if it is your spouse.

Model Appropriate Behavior

So, here’s the deal; kids learn from example. How you behave, they will behave. That means Black Friday shopping with kids turns into a model of good behavior. Share, be kind and don’t be a jerk. Don’t yell at people who get in your way, ram into the back of someone else because they did not move fast enough for you (no matter how much you want to run into that person who stops her cart in the dead center of the aisle, preventing everyone from being able to pass), and do not snatch things from people. Also, please do not stick your tongue out at anyone – yes, it happens. Your kids are watching, so try to keep it classy and mature, all right?

Pack Snacks

Here’s a thought; you are dragging your kids out in the middle of the night to shop, and not many places are open to feed you at this time of night. You’re going to need to make sure you have a diaper bag or something filled with snacks your kids can eat when they are starving at 3 am. Id’ also recommend you pack some entertainment since you cannot guarantee that your littles will sleep all night long in their stroller, especially if you are in and out of the car.

Dress the Part

This has less to do with Black Friday shopping with kids and more to do with being with kids in general; please dress them appropriately for the weather. Nothing bothers me (and most people) more than seeing children not dressed for the weather. I know that some kids are difficult (I have one of those myself). However, no matter how much my 4-year-old fights, screams, yells and has a throw down fit about wearing weather-appropriate clothing, she does not win that one. She does not get to choose her own clothes if they are not weather appropriate. She can wear whatever she wants as long as she’s warm, but that’s about it. Dress the kids the right way; I don’t want to see anyone’s kids out in short sleeves, shorts, dresses or flip flops when it is only 30 degrees outside at 4 am even if it’s going to be 80 by noon.

Engage your Kids

I am not Black Friday shopping with kids, but I do shop with my kids regularly, and I am pretty good at it. Remember when I said I have four of them? Well, my husband and I usually allow our kids to help with the shopping so that they are not given any free time to whine, annoy us or become bored. The babies are still at the age where a snack and a cup and their stroller is all they need to keep them happy and content, but our older girls want to do something else – anything else, really. Here’s how we engage them to keep them occupied when we shop regularly, and this will work for anyone Black Friday shopping with kids, too:

  • Let them cross things off the list
  • Let them help choose gifts
  • Let them make their own list and give them a small budget to shop for their loved ones
  • Let them find products and items for you
  • Let them help you choose the items for special people, such as purple or pink mittens for sister or whatever


Listen, I am not above bribery. I don’t trust parents who do not bribe their kids. Actually, I do not believe parents who say they do not bribe their kids. Kids are masterminds; tiny geniuses that know how to work us like we don’t even know. In fact, they work us in ways we probably haven’t even caught on to yet, and that’s their power. If I were Black Friday shopping with kids, I’d bribe them. I would bribe them like no one’s business. I’d bribe them with a treat (cookies? M&MS? Whatever) or with a new toy. I’d bribe them with a trip somewhere awesome at the end of the day. I’d bribe my kids, and I would not feel bad about bribing my kids if I were Black Friday shopping with kids.

Put Safety First

Black Friday shopping, with kids or without, is dangerous. There are so many things you have to be careful for, and we have a long list of things to keep in mind when it comes to Black Friday shopping with kids.

  1. Never leave kids unattended – It’s not that we think you’re going to leave your kids in the parking lot, but we do want you to know that you need to keep your kids with you at all times. Do not leave a child sitting in a stroller behind your car while you load up – put the kids in the car first, lock the doors and then worry about your shopping.
  2. Have your Keys Ready – Never exit a store without your keys in your hand and ready to go. Dangerous people are looking for those who are isolated and distracted looking through their bags for keys and whatnot.
  3. Do Not be Distracted – This is especially true when you are leaving a store to walk to your car. Be prepared. If the kids are melting down in their stroller, now is the time to ignore them completely. Now is not the time to stop outside and look for toys or snacks. Now is the time to have your stuff in order. The diaper bag already needs to be repacked by the time you get outside. Everything needs to be put together and ready to go into the car, and you cannot be distracted.
  4. Ask for Assistance Going Outisde – If you are alone Black Friday shopping with kids, ask a store employee to please help you outside. If you are worried or nervous in the dark, ask someone to go outside with you so that you feel more comfortable, safer and much more at ease. This is a great way to deter those with less than honorable intentions from wanting to bother with you. Most predators are looking for women who are alone, who are distracted by their kids and who are not paying attention to what is around them. Do not allow yourself to be one of those women.
  5. Do Not Carry a Large bag – Black Friday shopping with kids seems almost impossible without a large bag, right? Well, you want to keep your haul as small as possible. Get a small bag that can be kept very close to your body. Do not carry much cash, either. Try very hard to use your credit cards on Black Friday so that you are protected in case anyone does manage to get your bag from you. Cash is gone the moment someone takes it. However, you can keep your credit cards safe by cancelling them immediately. This is not really something that is specific to Black Friday shopping with kids, but it’s something that’s going to keep you and your kids safe.

Always trust your gut, go with your instincts and work hard to protect yourself and your family. Black Friday shopping with  kids might not be something that I would do myself, but I know my kids and their limits just like you know yours. I know mine would make me miserable and the day would not be worth it, so I choose to forgo Black Friday shopping with kids. However, those who are fine with it only need to be prepared, be vigilant and be on the lookout for great deals and sales as well as anything that is not quite right in the day. Good luck, happy shopping, and please remember that when you are Black Friday shopping with kids or without kids that you need to keep the drinking to a minimum if you’re not leaving much time to sober up between dinner and shopping. There are other people on the road, and some of them are people I happen to love; please don’t put anyone else’s lives at risk.

Photos by Getting Images


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