How to Have a Pleasant Trip to the Mall with a Toddler

Bear and I go to the mall about once a week, and stay 2-3 hours. When I tell other mom friends this, I get looks of disbelief and questions like "What?! Aren't you pulling your hair out the whole time?". The truth is, we both love it. It's relaxing for me & there are tons of fun things for toddlers in most malls if you take advantage of them! Here are a few of our tips for making your mall trips an enjoyable experience (for everyone involved!).
1. If there's a carousel, ride it! This is an obvious one, as most toddlers will beg to ride a carousel upon seeing it. I also realize that not all malls have carousels and we're lucky enough to live by a fantastic mall. This also doubles as a great distraction if you choose to eat in the food court; sitting beside the carousel mesmerizes Bear and he eats his food without a peep.
2. Buy a treat (or bring your own). There are always cookie, pretzel, and ice cream stands in the mall. I'll often grab Bear one cookie and he's perfectly happy in the stroller devouring it.
3. Bring favorite toys and/or a busy bag. If you have a toddler and are not familiar with busy bags, you've got to hop over to Pinterest and see the life-saver that you're missing out on! We went to a busy bag swap recently and came home with lots of great bags, but you can also make your own. This popsicle color match is one of Bear's favorites, and is great for keeping him busy while I'm looking in stores. 
4. Go in a few fun stores. Disney, Build a Bear, and even Gymboree (they have TVs with cartoons!) always make a shopping trip more fun for little ones.
5. Let them play. Mall playgrounds are not always the most sanitary places, but we bite the bullet and let Bear go crazy anyway. He loves our mall playground and I usually try to give him 20-30 minutes of playtime in the middle of our shopping trip to give him a break from the stroller. He often makes new friends, too! AND Mommy gets to sit down, which is nice.
6. Visit the book store. Almost every mall has a book store, and these are the perfect places for toddlers to explore. They usually have stuffed animals, lots of visual stimulation, and of course books! Bear could stay in Barnes & Noble for hours (so could Mommy). This also turns an ordinary shopping trip into a learning experience.

7. If your child gets tired and fussy, it's time to go. This is a big one. I'm guilty of doing it a time or two, and I see it all the time. While it'd be nice to go in just one more store in search of the perfect nude heels, if your little one is crying and rubbing his eyes it's probably time to go. The shoes can wait, but nap-time makes everyone happy.
8. Bring plenty to drink. Walking up and down the mall makes everyone thirsty (even the stroller rider), so it's always good to bring your own water rather than have to buy it from an expensive stand or vending machine.

I had to include this picture because Bear's expression cracks me up. "Tell the lady to get this thing runnin', Mama".
I'm sure Bear would add a few things to the list, such as "bring Dum Dums", "spend an hour in the pet store", and "avoid the loud music in Forever 21", which are all valid points as well. :)
Hope a few of you find this helpful and your next mall experience is a pleasant one!
Also, TGIF! Cheers to the holiday weekend; have fun and be safe!