We’ve all seen it: the exasperated mother in the checkout line with a shopping cart piled to the brim, trying to calm her crying baby (who’s teething) and hungry preschooler (who’s reaching for candy) while attempting to keep her cool all at the same time. Maybe if you’re like me you’ve been a part of said scenario and pondered a solution to the problem of grocery shopping with your kids.
I really believe it is possible to have a successful trip to the store without caving in to your child’s requests or completely going crazy! Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way as a mom of three about grocery shopping with children.
Feed Them First
Bringing hungry children to a store with aisles and aisles of food is a recipe for disaster! Keep some healthy snacks stashed in your car for such an occasion. This is especially helpful if you are picking your children up from daycare or school right before your grocery run. If it’s not too messy, I bring the snack in for my kids to eat while they shop. Sometimes, I’ll also reward them with a special treat that we can pay for with a coupon at checkout time.
Before you even go into the store, let your children know what shopping rules you’ve established. You may want your kids to keep one hand on the cart at all times or hold hands with each other as they cross the street. Make it clear whether or not you will be allowing them to pick out a treat and hold firm. If we are in the store and my kids mention they want a certain toy, I tell them to keep it in mind for Christmas or their birthday. Sometimes they will remember what it was and have me write it down, but often they decide they didn’t want it that much anyway!
Give Them a Grocery List
I find it helpful to give my children a list of items that we need in picture form so they can be a part of the shopping experience. My 3 year old daughter loves her clip-art photos of bananas, carrots, cereal and other foods. She points to them on the shelf excitedly and calls them by name. Having identifying words next to the pictures is fun for my five year old son who reads them off to me as we shop. For toddlers, you could use a spiral notebook and a sheet of stickers to keep little fingers busy!
Make Your Child an Active Participant in the Shopping Experience
If we forget our kid lists at home, I try to make it fun for my children by asking them questions as we stroll the aisles. “Do you see any yellow fruits?” “Can you find the letter B?” “Can you find the aisle sign with the word ‘bread’ on it?” are some of the things I ask my kids to keep them occupied. My kids also like to help put the groceries on the conveyor belt during checkout.
Leave the Kids at Home
This obviously isn’t a tip about shopping with kids but rather shopping without them. Now that I have three children (including a baby), I have found that it is much easier to match up coupons and shop sales when I am alone! Swap babysitting duties with another mom or go on your spouse’s day off if you can.
Shopping can be a less-stressful experience for you and your family. Stay positive and stay strong!