I Do Not Understand Mothers Who Take Young Children Shopping On Black Friday

shopping with kidsI have to admit, I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday. Not once. In my early 20s, I had to manage a retail store on the day after Thanksgiving. That experience was traumatic enough that I’ve vowed to stay safely at home every year on the nation’s biggest shopping day. So I don’t have a huge understanding of the joy some people get out of competing for an additional 10% off of something they wouldn’t normally buy.

That being said, I can still understand why some people get such a kick out of waking up super early on a day that they could otherwise spend sleeping in to get $100 flat screen televisions and $50 Nintendo Wiis. I mean, saving money is fun. Some people are competitive about absolutely everything, so it makes sense that they want to turn holiday presents into a situation where they can “win.”

While I have a vague understanding of the reasons that other people go out shopping on Black Friday, I have absolutely no idea why a mom would ever want to take her young kids shopping with her. And yet, I can specifically remember mothers dragging along exhausted toddlers through the mall when I worked retail on Black Friday. I know some moms who consider these shopping trips a “bonding experience” with their 5-year-old daughters. I know more moms who use their 8 or 9-year-olds to push carts and grab extra sizes.

On one hand, I have to admire these mothers dedication and control. There’s no way I could convince my daughter to behave through a marathon of waiting in lines, pushing through aisles, and diligently comparing prices. Unless I was bribing her with a gift at each store, we’d never make it through a day of shopping. If we started at five in the morning, we’d be home in time for a family breakfast around nine a.m.

On the other hand, the craziness of Black Friday is more than some adults can take. Most years, people are trampled while trying to get into stores as quickly as possible. This year, a man threatened to stab those around in him line at a Kmart in Sacramento. Even if you avoid the more violent crowds, there’s still an overwhelming number of people who have completely forgotten any manners they ever knew. I can’t imagine trying to drag a small child into that mess.

Normally, I’m extremely pro-stroller. As in, I am a polite and respectful stroller user so I don’t think people have a right to get cranky with me simply for existing. But Black Friday just has to be one of those times when strollers simply aren’t appropriate. There’s no way to be polite and respectful and avoid people’s toes or ankles with crowds that large. At the same time, a stroller would seem like the only way to keep a kid safe. They’re so little, I would be afraid of them getting sucked away into a crowd.

Black Friday will never be my cup of tea. I’d rather stay home on that day with an actual cup of tea. (Like I am right now.) That being said, adding to that insanity with the presence of a young kid… Well, I can’t decide if it takes superhuman control and disciplinary skills or if it’s just plain super crazy.

(Photo: Aleph Studio/Shutterstock)

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  • Samantha_Escobar

    Oh god, I agree–granted, I hate black Friday/crowds as it is, but I can’t imagine bringing my nephew or young cousins around those crowds, especially. As a kinda tall woman who played a lot of soccer at one time, I can at least push my way through and get air above the masses if necessary, but it’d be so hard to carry a kid the entire time and I’d be so worried they’d get stepped on by all the crazy people who don’t look where they’re walking. :(

  • bumbler

    Why are you writing an article on something you know nothing about? Could I write a story about moving abroad to England with quadruplets and mommyish would publish it? I’ve never been to England and only have one kid, but I “know of” quadruplets and pics of London. Close enough?
    Anyhow, it’s not a 10% discount on black friday and I suspect even you know that. A little hyperbole to stir the pot is fine, but that just comes off as balkingly misinformed. The discounts are huge on most things. So huge people are willing to wake up at 4am to get in on the deals. And it IS fun. I try to go every year with my sister. Where we live, the lines are reasonable and no one is rude. We often don’t even buy anything!
    Also, it’s one day a year. I personally wouldn’t take my tot black friday shopping, but who gives a crap if other people do? You wouldn’t wag your finger at a mother taking her toddler to the airport for a vacation flight at 4am, and that place is also packed with long lines and cranky people.

    • alex

      methinks someone did not get their fourthousand inch plasma this year…

    • Scarlette

      People with your level of aggression and pettiness are exactly why people GREW to hate Black Friday.

    • t-rex

      That’s how I read this article, too. Granted, I can understand the kid issue. Beyond that its snarky judgement on those who choose to spend their money wisely. The line that summed it up for me was: “Save 10% on something they wouldn’t normally buy.”

      I shop Black Fridays, and I see people buying clothing, pots/pans, kitchen appliances, remodeling materials, gifts for their family, how is that stuff they wouldn’t normally buy? This is just another instance where someone who doesn’t understand it balks at it.

    • BigBlue

      Thank you. I think you perfectly summed up why I balked at this article. Not every store has crazies waiting to stab people over laptops, and not every Black Friday shopper is out all night. Seriously.

  • Scarlette

    You and I agree on many a-things, Miss.

    This article is not one of them.

    • LindsayCross

      Yay! I like agreeing.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Y43G2GBLYWFPOIKU76DGRXPOSQ Parvati Lynn

    I don’t get it either. I went last night – not at 4am, because my Target was open at 9pm on Thursday, but the line to check out was ridiculous. I was in line for literally two and a half hours. I would have just left, but you couldn’t see how bad the line really was until you had already stood there for over an hour. There were little kids crying and passing out in their carts or on shoulders. It was about 1am when I finally got to the front and there were still kids in line far behind me. Sad. Some of them were there with both parents – why couldn’t one of them stay home?

    • http://avatarsankh.blogspot.com/ Xyzzy

      The miserable infants/kids are why, after one experience a couple of years ago, I vowed to never go near Target on Black Friday again. If it wasn’t illegal for them to do so, I’d say stores should have “family hours” run from 6:30am-9:30pm so the younger ones have some chance of a sane bedtime and other adults (whether parents or not) could escape the sound of 3-5 little ones crying/tantrumming simultaneously. (What would their poor parents do? Either wait for family time, hire a sitter/family friend/relative, or mimic the folks avoiding the din and wait for Cyber Monday/Week…)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000114206076 Laura Klotz

    I opened the store where I work at midnight on Black Friday. While taking out the trash, I heard the cry of an infant. Someone was out shopping with a baby so small they had to carry him/her, and the child was wailing. Why would you torment your baby like that?

  • keldam

    I’m sorry but there is no reason to be standing outside of toys r us in line with your baby on Black Friday. I know some people are single parents but when you are standing with your husband while your kid is crying shame on you. How about 1 of you goes shopping and the other person stays home with the kids? I stood next to 3 adults who had a child that was sobbing (for hours) that looked to be 1 year old. His mother kept handing him cheerios and saying “there is nothing I can do.” Uh yeah there is- go home. I’m all for getting good bargains, but not at the expense of my kids. Apparently Mom wanted the little man to suck it up, stay up past his bedtime so she can get his gifts from santa. She also commented on how she liked to use a stroller as a cart.

  • Me

    even with a stroller, i’d be afraid someone would fall on top of it. I would never take my small child with me into that mess. it just isn’t worth it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/helen.donovan.31 Helen Donovan

    In addition to being a horrible (and possibly dangerous) thing to do to a child, why would one do this to themselves? Perhaps this they are doing penance and this is the modern version of the hair shirt?

  • Maegan Bledsoe

    I think people bringing infants are not doing it to piss everyone off…A lot of people still have to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, even if they had Thanksgiving off (and even if they’re not in retail). Childcare for older kids is gone (no school on that Friday)…and if the other parent is at work…then there’s no one at home to care for the kids. With infants…I breastfed. My kids went with me b/c I was the one feeding them. I only tried Black Friday once…but both of my kids were older by then & sleeping when I went. They didn’t even realize I was gone. (Though they were not home alone – just in case anyone thought they might be.) It happens. It’s inconvenient or unpleasant for a lot of people…but it’s Black Friday shopping – is it every really FUN?

  • Renee J

    I’ve brought my kids before. But, I shop on Black Friday after most of the crowds are gone. Sleeping in until 7:00 is great. And you still get the door buster deals.

  • Justme

    I don’t understand people at Black Friday sales in general, much less people who take their children or very elderly grandparents. My husband went out Friday morning for a 1/2 price basketball goal and a $10 copy of Brave. My daughter and I stay snuggled in our warm house playing dolls and cleaning up after Thanksgiving.

  • LiteBrite

    Having worked retail for more years than I care to remember, I agree. I never worked the overnight shift, but even in the afternoons or evenings I’d see people dragging their whiny, clearly exhausted kids through the store, and I’d think, “Is that discounted sweater really worth it?”

    My kid hates shopping with me on a normal day, so I can’t imagine hauling him around on Black Friday.

  • bridgetarlene

    okay, while I don’t condone most of the Black Friday pointless consumerism (and also don’t go myself), this article still struck me the wrong way. I feel like it could have been titled, “I Don’t Understand Moms Who Take Kids Shopping On Black Friday Because I Am So Privileged I Am Unaware of Single Mothers, Parents Who Cannot Afford Babysitters, or Mothers Who Work Every Day But Have 2 Days Off For Thanksgiving.” A lot of my poor and working class families have a tradition of buying all their socks, underwear, jeans, etc on Black Friday. Once a year, they go shopping for clothes FOR THE WHOLE YEAR because taking advantage of the 30, 40 and sometimes 50% savings (more with coupons) is something they have grown to depend on to clothe their families all year. So yes, they (or she, if it is a single mom) do head to the stores, little kids in tow, to stock up on affordable necessities for the whole year. I am actually a little baffled the poster does not know about the many families who wait all year to do this.

    • Scarlette

      Right, because Dollar Stores etc do not exist.

      There are several stories that come out every year about this day which should make anyone with a small child think twice about the safety of the event.

    • bridgetarlene

      You did not understand my comment. Dollar stores do not sell jeans and the underwear they sell does not last a whole year! You need to go to a department store to stock up on clothing. And please don’t tell me they should just go to goodwill or wait for donations or something because I’m talking about families who work for a living and would see that as taking handouts or not the same thing as buying a new pair. I’m not talking about taking your brood to Best Buy or Toys’R'Us – I’m talking about taking them to JCPenny or Kohl’s or whatever. You either clearly did not read my comment, or you are one of those people who assumes every single store or mall is unsafe when there are reports of macing/trampling mostly taking place at Best Buys and Walmarts…no one is rushing the doors of the kids department at Sears, although the lines are still probably pretty long.

    • Scarlette

      See that as taking handouts… so it’s about your pride…?

      Also I believe the article is addressing how selfish it is to put your children and other shoppers in an uncomfortable situation as you and your kids wait 4 hours in line.

    • bridgetarlene

      Nope – not about pride. Just about managing your family’s finances responsibly, according to living within your means. This means budgeting, planning out what you can afford for a year, and, for some families, taking advantage of annual sales. I suppose you believe all working class families should live off of goodwill and donations until they make it to the middle class tax bracket – even though this is often not achieved for 2 – 3 generations. Please, you cannot expect hardworking people with jobs to live like they are poor. They are trying to do the best that they can with a lower income budget than middle class families and if they do splurge on those Jordan’s so their kids stop getting made fun of, they are criticized for living within their means. If they decide to budget and take advantage of annual sales, they are criticized for having too much pride to shop at goodwill or the dollar store? I’m really confused by what America you live in and how many working class people you know. Or maybe I’m feeding a troll.

    • t-rex

      When was the last time you were in the dollar store? What clothing they sell is limited and looks like it was bought 10 years ago. So people with limited means are supposed to miss out and just shop at a dollar store? Take your gold-plated broom handle out of your ass.

    • Scarlette

      Why yes. Telling people to live within their means apparently means I have a stick up my ass. Sorry, if you can barely afford gas for your car maybe you should pass up on the 7 for all mankind jeans a 85% off.

      The safety of your child should come first.

    • Vikky

      Buying good quality clothes at a 50% discount IS living within their means! It sucks that the only time of year a poor single mom can do that is on Black Friday during all the craziness. What is she supposed to do? Send her children to school in bad shoes and cheap rags that will wear out and not keep them warm? I hate Black Friday, and I’m a judge-y mom, but I just can’t blame them for doing what they have to do.

    • Venessa

      Wow..just..wow. I am trying to frame a response for the first sentence, but I just can’t.

      As for the second, there are several stories that come out each year about kids being mauled/killed at zoos. Should every parent think twice before taking their kid to the zoo?

      Not that I am a big fan of taking kids shopping late at night or way too early in the morning, but talking about Black Friday like it is a dangerous situation is a completely new level of paranoia.

  • t-rex

    Yo, I shop Black Friday. I get everything that I would normally buy during the year, except for closer to the true value of the product. Parents who buy clothing this way for their children have figured out how to save $1000 over the course of a year in clothing. It’s math, not silliness.

    • BigBlue

      This article smacked of privilege to me. Not everyone is out to save five bucks on a 60 inch plasma screen TV for the bathroom…

  • Nic

    I took my toddler black Friday shopping this year, I got so many glares for it. Someone I know even made a passive-aggressive facebook status about it. I really find this reaction to be pretentious. People hear a few (often sensationalized) stories in the news every year of someone getting stepped on or punched in the face over a black Friday deal and suddenly black Friday shopping is the most lowly barbaric tradition someone could take part in. I live in a small town. I waited in line for 10 minutes. No one pushed us. When we would accidentally bump carts with someone, everyone involved said sorry and smiled. It was a very pleasant experience. There were no brawls over products. I was able to buy every single gift I needed for my daughter this Christmas and I saved a lot of money. I couldn’t get a babysitter, as her father had to work all night. We don’t have a lot of money but we were able to get our daughter some really nice things because of black Friday. We went home and went to bed and slept well. She’ll get some great stuff Christmas morning under the tree. My kid is fine. I think this is totally FAKE concern for children, and more about demeaning people for doing bargain shopping.

  • BigBlue

    My Black Friday shopping experience was nothing like you described. It was no different than a regular day at the mall. Why shouldn’t I bring my son? I normally like Lindsay’s posts but this one seemed way off the mark.

  • C.J.

    I go every year with the same friend. It is something we find fun to do together. We don’t go for the big ticket items, those lines are crazy! This year we went at about 2am. I felt sorry for the little kids. They obviously didn’t want to be there.