Keep your kids safe while last minute shopping this Christmas – and your sanity in check!

I like to be more organised but Christmas crept up on me this year – I haven’t even half finished shopping and I only have a couple of more days to go!  This will mean trips to the shops to buy last minute gifts with both of my angels in tow now that school holidays are on… The question is how do I keep my angels safe from potential shopping centre chaos and my sanity in check?

The reason for my pondering is the other day I saw a toddler topple a Christmas stand over – glasses smashed, gourmet food flew up in the air, went all over the floor and somehow plastered the wall and ceiling.  The poor mum had that look of pure horror.  I immediately felt empathy and thought, “that could have been me”.  I went over, helped clean up the mess, gave mum a hug then offered to take her for a double espresso (it was 9:05am after all).

Ladies, whether your angel has pulled down a display stand of food or drinks, or has one of those tantrums that makes scenes from The Exorcist look normal, we have all been there and feel your pain.

This experience made me think about my upcoming shopping adventure with my own two… How do I keep them safe and my sanity in check while navigating the shopping centre chaos?  Here are a few tips to help keep your kids safe as you make the last minute marathon Christmas present shop.

Mannequins, stands and display tables

I think mannequins are functional displays but don’t get me wrong, they look like weird adult sized Barbies and it is no wonder they fascinate our kids! The reality is mannequins, stands and display tables are a risk for children as they are tall, unsecured and can fall causing harm and/or intense embarrassment!  Kids love to explore around and between these fascinating things and while fun if you are pint sized it is not safe.  And let’s face it, there is nothing worse than when your child comes over and asks, “Mum…… What is THIS?” as they pass you a perfectly sculptured plastic hand.


Don’t let your child play around stands, mannequins and display tables in stores to avoid injury and mum embarrassment (have you ever tried to discreetly put one of those hands back on the mannequin? Then your angel asks accusingly “What are you doing with that hand Mum” loudly, like you were the culprit that pulled it off!).


Helping your child learn how to use an escalator safely is important and a milestone for many children. Unfortunately escalators have a number of moving parts that can trap clothes, shoelaces, small fingers and toes.  Luckily some incidents are minor and result in small cuts and scratches, others are more serious and require amputations of limbs.


  • Check shoelaces are firmly tied.
  • Hold your child’s hand as you get on and off the escalator.
  • Make sure your child’s hand is free of the handrail and that unsecured clothing isn’t caught
  • Ask your child to stand still, face forward and not sit on the steps.
  • If your child’s clothing, shoe laces etc. get stuck in the escalator hit the emergency button immediately and call for help.
  • When you return home with all children in tow and all limbs intact, eat copious amounts of chocolate and have a glass of wine after the adrenaline wears off!

The wandering, exploring and tear away child

It is every parent’s worst nightmare to loose his or her child. Unfortunately shopping centres enhance young exploring tear away children due to the sights, smells and endless distractions.  How many times have you been in a shopping centre and heard “Luke, can you please come to the front of the shop please.  Your mum is looking for you”. Or have you ever come across a screaming child frantically searching for their mum?


  • Talk to your child about never going anywhere without asking permission first.
  • Discuss with your child about what they can do if they become separated from you.  Where can they go? Who can they ask for help?  (This may be tricky if your child is overly anxious but essential – balance the line between fact and reassurance.)
  • Write your mobile number on the inside of their t-shirt (unless they are old enough to memorise it) and explain that they can give your number to store staff, security or police if you become separated.
  • Don’t panic!  Keep calm so you can think clearly.  Look where you last were and call out your child’s name. Speak to the shopping personnel making sure you describe their age, gender and what they were wearing.
  • Take a photo on your phone so you remember what your child was wearing.
  • On reunion, cuddle, reassure and cuddle some more. This will help calm you both and reduce the adrenaline experienced by you both.
  • Consider using one of those leads that attach to your child and you (I have never used one and interested to hear of anyone who has or does about how good a strategy it is and when you can wean off?).


I will never forget when my sister got her arm stuck in a life door.  There was a high pitched scream, many tears and pure panic and it was terrifying for her, our poor mum, nanna and me.   Luckily she was ok but I honestly can’t remember how the building services staff opened the doors to pry her arm out.  These days, most lifts have safety overrides that prevent this from happening, however the safety device sometimes misses little fingers.


  • Make sure your children are well clear of lift doors.

So ladies, Christmas shopping for last minute gifts with kids is safe and achievable!  You can do it – you are a supermum! Take a deep breath, check that fridge is well stocked with chocolate and wine for your return home (or add to your shopping list!) and hit the shops!

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