It is my reality that I end up doing a lot of shopping with kids, grocery shopping, swimsuit shopping, car shopping, you name it--I've done it. I use Amazon Prime and Instacart when I can, but sometimes you need to be out there. Do I wish that all stores had a drive-through? Yes, yes, I do.
Snacks--An absolute must. Save these for the MAJOR meltdown (or when hunger calls). This isn't amateur hour--don't give these out easily or early.
Nordstrom--Why do I mess with other stores? They have the best customer service, the best shoes, clothes, etc. (for a price, I know). But when you need a new swimsuit and they give you a dressing room as large your living room with a podium for your kids to dance on, you really can't go wrong. I'm pretty sure swimsuit shopping (bleh) + kids is a form of torture. I have found that I'm always treated like royalty (it doesn't take much)…especially with three kids in tow. Worth the extra $$, trust me. (on the extra cash…I bought an expensive suit for summer, a black one-piece miracle, in hopes that people assume I bought four of the same one).
Kid carts--Go to the stores that have the little carts or the car carts. If they just have the basic carts, I have little ones help push and older ones ride the front.
Bathrooms--Know where they are.
Baby carrier--Always bring a baby carrier, sometimes it's best to have the extra cart space and the kid strapped on. (re: groc shopping)
Single/Double Stroller-- For kids that are just learning to listen and like to run away: strap. them. in. (re: mall shopping, city shopping)
Costumes--No explanation needed.
Accept the crazy--Ignore the comments & accept help…"yes, you can help me out to the car!"
Phone--When all else fails, call Elmo.