I won’t waste time: Shopping with kids is hard. The best way to shop with more than 2 kids is to leave them at home with a babysitter. But that type of luxury isn’t always possible or cost-efficient. Bummer. But it IS possible to make it bearable with a few tips and reminders that we probably already know but have forgotten because of basic sleep deprivation. Here are a few wacky (and hopefully wise) tips I’ve discovered that don’t require you to take your whole playroom to the store… and have also made my grocery shopping experiences a little less crazy and a lot more fun:
1) Feed everyone RIGHT BEFORE you go. That means bottle for the baby, meal or snacks for the toddlers and older kids. Fill those little bellies all the way up and turn your chances for cranky behavior in the cereal aisle way down. (Experts say adults shouldn’t shop hungry… neither should kids!)
2) Start your journey with as many tots in the cart as possible (youngest in the coveted front seat, toddler in the main basket, older kids walk without negotiation). Start piling your food in the toddler-part cart (if your kids are like mine, they’ll get a huge kick out of it and think it’s soooo funny to sit with all the fruits and veggies). Don’t take that toddler out of the cart to walk until there’s no possible way to fit more food in there without burying your kid. If you score one of those longer-than-life bus-carts, way to go mama…
3) Put older kids in charge of holding a list, an item, “helping” to “push” the cart, etc. Make sure everyone has a job to focus on. This helps to pass the time without them realizing they’re not on the playground. Toddlers can count how many apples you put in the bag, babies can rustle with the plastic produce bags (unopened, of course). Ask the older kids if they can remember what kinds of fruits you need to restock at home. Basic rule: Everyone gets to hold something.
4) Put a hooded shirt/jacket on your toddler so when you do take them out of the cart to walk beside you, you have something to easily grab and gently yank on to get them to stay beside you. (The picture below is an oldie-but-goodie from a previous post, but I can’t help it… I love it. And it WORKS.)
5) DON’T. STOP. TALKING. Keep those wandering brains focused as much as you can. Some of my most-used favorites: “What are we looking for now?” “What color are those apples?” “Isn’t this fun?” “What should we buy for Papa?” “Stay by Mommy. Stay right by Mommy or else The Guy’s going to kick us out and we will never get to shop for more food again.” And on… and on… and on… and on. I actually feel sorry for the other shoppers who can hear me.
6) MOVE FAST (without injuring any passengers, of course). Shopping with kids is not a leisure activity. You get in, do your business, you get out. Have a basic plan ahead of time. Know what you need so that you start at one end of the store and work your way around in the most time-effiencent way possible. I always start with produce, then to meats, then to dairy, then to pasta/grains, then miscellaneous. The same route every time.
But what can I say… this silly stuff works for me.
What are your favorite shopping-with-kids tips?