Per request, I have decided to write about shopping with the kiddos. We all hate to go to the grocery store, why would our kids enjoy every minute of it? Hopefully some of this advice will have a new fresh look at the whole experience.
Going shopping was so much easier with one child. I have 2 boys (Aiden, age 4 and Jameson, age 2). At first, shopping was easy when Jameson was young enough and still in a car seat. Then screaming matches were the “thing” to do with each other. Here is what I did to get a handle on the situation.
1. The first and the foremost easiest way to shop with kids… Leave the kids at home. But it is not always an option…
2. Figure out when your stores are not as busy. Shop during the week at odd hours where you will not be standing in line for long. Late at night or early in the day works the best. If you save your trips to the store for the weekend, try to shop on Sundays. Saturdays seem to be the worst days to shop. Not only are the kids stressing you out, but add the stress of bumping into another cart when you turn down the isles and your kids standing in the way of people trying to get through the madness as well. Ugh!
3. Make sure you go at the right times for your kids. Make sure they go to the bathroom before you leave, make sure they have eaten something (as well as you) and make sure it is right after they wake up. This provides an awesome window of time for you to shop without resistance.
4. One thing that I have always done that helps tremendously… Do not let them out of the cart, EVER… Once they get that freedom, they will beg and throw fits EVERY time you go to the store. If they still fit in the cart, use it. Use the carts that are designed for multiple children if you have more than one child. STRAP THEM IN!!!! This is so much better than telling your child to hurry up because they are dragging their feet behind you. The only thing I have not solved yet is the kids kicking each other. They should make carts that face out, not in. lol Also, the goofy looking “Car” carts for kids are awesome (full of germs, but awesome). STRAP THEM IN!!!! I made that mistake once running after kids in two different directions while the check out lady was waiting for me. And use hand sanitizer when you are done, or you will pay for it later. lol
5. Keep your list simple and plan it out before you get to the store. Do not stand in front of the item wondering which one you should pick and expect your kids not to touch things and stand still. Prepare your list before you start to go to the store, or your kids will not last long. Not only is this a sanity saver (by keeping your cart moving at the store), but a money saver and a time saver as well. You will not stand in front of your cupboards opening and closing hoping something would magically prepare itself onto your plate. You will not be forgetting stuff and having to drive your kids to the store for the second time this week. You will not be spending more money and wasting food because you forgot you purchased brats without the buns and oops, it expired. You could also search online for coupons and print these up before you go as well!
6. Let them hold a toy/or something you are already planning on buying to keep their hands busy and focused in the cart not around them. This works for a small window of time (this is where planning your list before you go helps) until they start throwing items out of the cart on the ground.
7. My youngest boy, Jameson is still too young for reasoning. When he sees a toy, he wants to open it. He doesn’t understand that we have to purchase it first, so he screams. Every time. One thing that has worked well for me is warning. Before you go into the store (be consistent–EVERY store), warn them of the consequences. Tell them that if they scream or misbehave in any way, they will not come with you next time. If you have the time to do this, tell them that you will drop everything and leave (no warning) if anyone misbehaves. This does work. Jameson started screaming once at Good Will and all I had to do was start heading for the door and he said “No”. So, I gave him one more chance and he was good for a while longer. One thing that worked for Aiden was leaving without him the next trip. He was devastated that I did not bring him with. He understood the consequences from misbehaving and has been an awesome shopping buddy since then.
8. Check out lane madness… waiting… waiting… what can we get into? Aiden is mad because he wants to go into the game room so conveniently positioned in front of him. Jameson is jealous of Aiden touching the candy and picking up toys and teasing him and I can’t make the checkout lane go any faster. What do I do? I make them give me kisses. It works. Make them laugh. Hearing screaming from Jameson because Aiden is trying to kiss him is sooo much better to hear than a tantrum scream because he is out of control. Play a game… Aiden and I have a few games we play that we can take ANYWHERE… Guess this song game (sing partial songs from favorite movies they have at home). Try the guessing game. Give them 3 or 4 descriptions…(like I have whiskers, a tail and I meow… what am I?) They are sooo happy they can figure it out (even if it is easy). Or I start a story and he finishes it.
9. Whatever you do… Do not give in at the checkout lane. If you are planning on buying something for them, do it in the store. Otherwise you will have a nightmare on your hands every time you are waiting to check out.
10. You are now out of the store! One thing I taught Aiden to do is always hold the cart when in the parking lot. He is controlled by me yet he still feels freedom. He is only 4 years old and his attention span is still not good enough to watch where he is going from the store to the car. It is amazing how well it works and I know he will be safe if someone starts backing out.
If you have 3 kids under the age of 4, I would suggest all of these rules for you. Plan ahead, strap them all in a cart, and get out fast.