Grocery Shopping with kids – [sigh], right?. It’s gotta happen, and I’m excited to say that it doesn’t have to evoke a sigh.
One week after having my first child I came to the sad realization that a quick little trip to the grocery store was no longer going to happen. There’s so much planning that has to go into it now…
Diaper bag packed, nap times, feedings, potty training and so on.
Once you finally get to the store, low-and-behold, your child starts having a major meltdown… and you’re on the verge of your own.
I remember before having children, being in the store and hearing a child crying/throwing a fit, and I would think to myself, “Why isn’t the mother handling that?!” Well, since having kids, I have been in that woman’s shoes many times. I started thinking there’s got to be a way to make this easier.
I wish I could tell you that I’ve finally found a way to make every shopping trip a wonderful experience. Not quite. Shopping with kids is unpredictable and that’s likely not going to change.
I came up with a few things that have made the “adventure” a little better. Hopefully they can help you as well!
First, a fun graphic for you to share!
Your Shopping with Kids Must-Haves!
I know it takes a lot of work to get everyone out of the house in the morning, but I’ve found that this is the best time to go. If your kids are anything like mine, things start to get a little hairy once it gets close to nap or lunch time. Kids are happier in the mornings… And happy kids make for happier trips.
2. Get Less
Don’t try to be super human and shop for the entire month! I know the idea sounds nice, but do you really think that you can go one time and not run out of snacks? (I say this with sarcasm because I’ve tried many times and it hasn’t happened yet.)
First, how do you plan on pushing all that food and 1+ children around the store? Are you chuckling thinking of the struggle?
To save your sanity, just plan to shop for 1-2 weeks. Try to find some time before going to make out a list. (Knowing your meal menu ahead of time is also extremely helpful!) That way you’re not walking through aisles throwing random stuff in the cart.
3. Bring Snacks!
You’ve probably figured it out by now that you should never leave the house without “survival” food. It’s a must in parenting. The same rule applies when shopping with kids. I try to bring a small variety for my kids to choose from, and kinds that don’t require a ton of cleanup (pretzels, cheerios, goldfish).
Of course you’ll have to be prepared for the embarrassment that comes when you realize your child has been leaving a ‘Hansel & Gretel’ trail behind you throughout the whole store!
I’ve had to do this countless times, and I’ve never heard a complaint from a cashier. (Just the time I handed one a package that my daughter had slobbered on. oops.)
*Side tip- Most grocery store bakeries give out cookies to kids for free. I’ve found this is a nice treat before going through the checkout line. Keeps them from grabbing the candy bars that just so happen to be right in their reach!
4. Pack Toys / Activities
You can either let your child bring a toy that “wants to go to the store” or you could have a toy that gets pulled out just for this occasion. Even something as simple as a pen and paper can entertain for quite a while.
Side note: Don’t bring pool noodles when shopping with kids! 😂
5. Set Expectations
Use the time driving to the store to talk about your expectations for them… How to behave or not behave. For children 2+, ask simple questions like, “Are you going to stay in your seat belt?”, “Are you going to throw fits?”, “Are you going to stay by me?”, “Are you going to grab stuff off the shelves?”.
If you see they are struggling with this in the store, gently remind them of what they agreed to. Remember to acknowledge good behavior. 😇 Shopping with kids can actually be a really great internal growth experience for them! <- Lofty goals!
6. Don’t Fear Potty Breaks
I know public restrooms are downright nasty sometimes, but I taking the time to have your kid(s) go potty before shopping is less stressful than having to stop mid-trip with a cartful of groceries to rush to the restroom!
*Side tip- Hand sanitizer makes a great toilet cleaner if there isn’t any paper seat covers.
Kids know when they aren’t getting all of your attention. You can avoid some of the fits that come from that by just talking with them. (They are never too young to hold conversations with!) Let them know what you’re getting/looking for.
Play little games of ‘I spy’ or ‘guess the animal I’m thinking of’. Sing songs. So what if you have to sing Old MacDonald 38 times in a row… Just think of how wonderful it is that your child isn’t screaming.
8. Let Them Help
Whether they are 2 years old and in the cart or 5 years old and holding on, there’s plenty of ways to change your trip from ‘shopping with kids’ to ‘shopping with little helpers’. You can hand little ones stuff to put in the back of the cart or hold on to your shopping list. They can also put stuff on the belt at checkout.
Big kids can help by getting the items you need, entertaining the younger children and unloading/loading the cart at checkout.
9. Evoke Positivity
Children feed off of your emotions. If you go into things stressed from the beginning, it’s probably not going to be enjoyable- for anyone.
10. Know When to Quit
If you’re trying to get everyone ready and out the door to go, and things aren’t going smoothly, or if your child is having constant meltdowns in the store, Don’t force it!
There have been a few times I’ve had to unload everyone from their carseats after I had just finished buckling them in, because I realized that what we were about to do was going to be too stressful for us that day. So, we stayed home and tried again another day.
I’ve found that it’s best not to push my “agenda” on to my kids… Yes, there are some things that have to get done that we can’t work around, but it’s good to step back and evaluate the situation to see if it really is urgent or if it could wait until another (less stressful) time.
We can’t have hit them all. We want to hear yours below. 💛