Without proper preparation, shopping with toddlers can leave parents feeling like they’re treading water…without a life vest…while having cramps. Here are some tips to help your weekly grocery run look a little bit less like a scene from JAWS!
Timing is everything
If your toddler’s usual naptime is 10am, do NOT leave for the store at 9:30. I’ve found that the best time to go to the store is bright and early, right after breakfast. My son’s alert and happy, and I’m not left fighting after school traffic.
Make a list
Scan your grocery store’s weekly sale flyer at home and write out a detailed list of items you need to buy. I even like to create a weekly meal plan, checking my pantry to make sure I stock up on everything I need. An organized plan of attack helps keep you focused so you can get what you need and get out of the store as quickly as possible in the event of a toddler meltdown.
Know your store layout
There are a couple areas of any given store that I simply can’t go near with my son: the cookie section, the summer toys and the pet aisle – those cat balls draw him in like a fly to a bug zapper! I always avoid unfamiliar stores with my toddler, since it’s difficult to keep those “shiny things” from tempting him when I don’t know what’s around the next turn.
Snacks, diapers, and an extra change of clothes. You never know when you’ll hit a snag that drags your quick trip out a lot longer than planned. I’ve been stranded before, locked out of the car with an unhappy child and no back-up diapers in our bag. It’s not fun. Don’t tempt fate.
We have some small toys that are reserved strictly for when we’re out-and-about. This helps get him excited for trips out of the house and keeps him occupied while I read labels and comparison shop. We’re trying to slowly wean him off the binky, but it’s kept on-hand in case I get really desperate for a way to keep him calm. It’s always good to keep your child’s comfort object tucked away for emergencies.
How do you make shopping trips fun for your kids?