Keeping a toddler happy at the home improvement warehouse

Say "Home Depot" to my kids and you'll hear immediate groans of disapproval. I can't say as I blame them — I get tired of trudging through aisle upon aisle of hardware myself. Here's Mike's suggestion (for the kid at least):

Like many parents, we spend a lot of time in the big box home improvement stores.  How do you keep a toddler calm during hours of shopping for things like window shades and hardware?  When you walk in, go to the paint section.  Usually there's some child-oriented color lines, and they have color chips or other things with various characters on it.  We let the kid take one color chip (he picks) and he's usually happy for the entire trip.

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  1. Michael G says

    Take them the first Saturday of the Month to HD. They have a kids workshop and they can build something.

    After building you can walk them around around while they carry their creation.

  2. Sara in Austin says

    I do a similar trick while waiting for take-out food — I had my toddler one of the business cards most restaurants have sitting on the host stand. Works for a while, sometimes long enough to actually get our food. :)

  3. Brian says

    Home Depot is one of our usual stops that my two-year-old son just loves. Bring him through the ceiling fan aile on the way to the tractors, and you’ll be lucky to get him to leave when you’re ready.

  4. Scott Severtson says

    My kids have been forcing this hack on me without knowing it – we grabbed cards just one time, and now we can’t make it past the paint isle without stopping. Works all the way through age 6, and even reduces some sibling spats (harder to fight with something in your hands).

  5. Chris says

    My son loves the home improvement stores, and has for years.

    The paint chips, tools (drills and cirky-saws in particular), ceiling fans, lamps, lawnmowers, trimmers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, toilets, tubs, faucets, just about everything.

    Mostly, we just needed to show him something he’s remotely interested in, and then it’s almost impossible to get him out of the store so we can continue working on whatever project has brought us to the hardware store.

  6. Mary says

    My daughter always go and gets her mickey mouse head paint chip at the beginning of every home depot trip…..

  7. Jill says

    All mine needs is a trip past the “motor cut-cuts”. Anything with a motor thrills both my boys. They love home improvement stores. In fact, they’ll accept home repair books for bedtime stories as long as the pictures are good. What I need is some tips for keeping them entertained while I try on sports bras at Target!

  8. oddharmonic says

    You may be able to find ~4×6″ samples of chalkboard and whiteboard back with the paneling, wainscoting, etc.. With your own chalk or dry-erase marker, it could be a hit!

    Lowe’s carries both for 50c per sample, but I scored whiteboard samples for 22c apiece on sale this summer.

    For less than $5, a dozen whiteboard samples and a generic pack of dry-erase markers from my local office supply chain made a nice addition to my Cub Scout den travel box.