I’ll be perfectly honest, having contact email addresses on the sidebar over there means we all get a bunch of PR emails in our boxes. A lot of them are mediocre at best, and find their way to the trash pretty quickly. Some of them are interesting, but not quite right for the GeekDad audience, and they may get a polite "thank you, not this time" email back. And some actually seem worthwhile passing on. I thought this one wasn’t bad. It appears Consumer Reports (always a reference for geeks) has a new magazine out called ShopSmart, and they passed along these good tips for family shopping habits from their May, 2008 issue:
When is the Best Time to…?
…Eat Out with Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers? Sunday through Wednesday before the usual rush (11:30am for lunch, 5:30pm for dinner).
- Why? That’s when restaurants are less crowded and you’ll get faster service, which means there’s less potential meltdown time for your kids. But stick to family-friendly restaurants.
- Hint: They have high chairs and paper and crayons to keep kids busy. Bring your own bag of tricks
(pacifiers, toys, paper and markers) just in case.
…Travel by Plane with a Baby or Toddler?
Naptime or bedtime for long flights.
- Why? Both you and your child can sleep. Be sure to bring along your child’s favorite teddy bear or blanket. And make flying fun with crayons, books and plenty of snacks.
Plan to go from activity to activity. Then, during your child’s regularly scheduled nap or bedtime, stick to the routine; get her cozy in her favorite blanket, give her some milk and sing her favorite lullaby.
- Hint: Just be sure to avoid early-morning flights on weekdays so you and your baby don’t have to compete with harried business travelers.
…Grocery Shop with Your Kids? The day after the supermarket’s ads come out, and right after breakfast or lunch on weekdays.
- Why? This is when you can get good deals and there are plenty of on-sale items left in stock. When the aisles aren’t clogged with after-work and weekend shoppers, you’ll navigate faster with your cart and kids.
- Hint: If your kids have eaten before you leave, you’ll spend less on “gimme” items like fruit roll-ups and crackers. Also, bring snacks for your kids to munch on while you’re shopping.
…Visit the Dentist? Tuesday through Friday, between 10:30am and noon, or 1:30 to 3pm.
- Why? Those are generally the slowest times at the dentist’s office. By scheduling yourself or your kids then, you’ll avoid the morning rush of 9-to-5ers who swing by the dentist on their way to work, during lunch, or on their way home.
- Hint: Always avoid Mondays.
That’s when dental offices fill up with emergency holdovers from the weekend.
…Visit the Doctor? Weekdays around 9:30am.
- Why? By then, the offices of many pediatricians and other doctors are through the morning rush and up and running normally, but aren’t yet buried under the backlog of patients, emergencies and paperwork that accumulates as the day goes on.
For pediatrician appointments, it’s best to avoid after-school hours when offices get crowded with children fresh off the bus.
- Hint: The spring or early fall are the best months for routine appointments like well-child checkups, because you aren’t competing with cold and flue season, when the crowds really begin to swell. And, of course, doctors are less likely to be out of the office on vacation.
…Visit the Mall with Your Kids? Weekdays, midmorning or late afternoon – not during naptime or mealtimes.
· Why? Shopping is nearly impossible when kids are tired or hungry. And if you bypass the food court, you’ll save time and money. Weekdays are also ideal because malls tend to be less crowded.
· Hint: If you have a baby, you can make lots of retail headway while she naps, so be sure to time your outings around her sleep schedule.
…Get Baby Products on Sale? The fall.
- Why? That’s when retailers tend to clear their inventory to make room for new products that arrive in
December or January, so be on the lookout for deals.
- Hint: You might also get a good buy if you shop at small retailers rather than big-box stores. Mom-and-pop stores have more leeway on discounts, especially if you’re a regular customer. But don’t be shy. Ask, “Is that your best price?”
…Shop for Kids’ Clothes? When your kids need them.
· Why? Kids have been known to have sudden growth spurts that can throw off your sizing forecasts. A swimsuit you snag for your baby in March, for example, might be too small by July. A winter coat you buy for your toddler in August might be too snug by December.
· Hint: This summer’s sale items that you buy two sizes too big for next summer might fit, or they might be completely off. That’s a definite log shot.
…Buy Baby’s First Shoes? When your child begins walking, usually at 10 to 14 months.
· Why? That’s when a child really needs shoes. Flexibility helps the foot develop its arch. So when buying your baby’s first pair, try to bend t he shoe in half. If it bends easily, it’s a contender. The best shoes have traction so your baby wont’ slip. You’ll want some room at the toe, but not so much that your baby will trip. And many babies kick off everything, so look for shoes that lace; they’re harder to take off than ones with
· Hint: If you’re going to buy leather footwear, which can run $25 per pair or more and which your baby will outgrow quickly, wait until he’s really on the move. To keep you pre-walker’s feet warm outside on cool days, look for soft, elasticized baby socks or clingy booties.