I've been grocery shopping with small children nearly every week for almost eight years now, and while I try very hard to avoid grocery shopping with all four children (all under eight), I've found several other tips to make grocery shopping a little less crazy-making.
Feed them first. Just like you're more likely to have a successful shopping trip on a full stomach, so are your kids.
Park near a cart return. Usually we maneuver for the closest position to the doors, but if you're next to a cart return, you can often get a cart so you don't have to drag/lug your kids/car seat/first tantrumer in. Then when you're done, you don't have to run across the parking lot to return your cart.
With tiny children, use a front carrier. The car seat takes up too much room in the cart for an effective shopping trip.
Know your grocery store's kid-friendly perks.
Some of my local grocery stores' perks:
- Free small candy at check out (a roll of Smarties)
- Child-sized carts
- Carts with plastic toy cars on the front
- Carts with built-in plastic child seats
- Free cookies at bakery
Cut off tantrums before they begin. Set ground rules before you go in the store. "There will be no tantrums, or [natural consequence]." "We will be getting X, Y and Z, but we are not going to spend money on Q, P and R."
Bring bribes. Small candies, gum or a pack of fruit snacks can help stave off tantrums or the gimme-gimmes. Alternatively, buy bribes and make your children earn them through good behavior while at the store. (I do this with the free cookies and candy from the store.)
Give your kids choices. If you're shopping for food for them especially, you can let them choose. It keeps them from getting bored and (hopefully) increases the chances they'll eat what you buy. Even if it's not something they normally like--let them help pick out your tomatoes, and they just might eat them.
Give your kids responsibilities. My kids love to help hold the list and the pen, or drive the cart; Brooke gives her little girl the coupons to help out. When they're invested, they're not throwing a fit.
Teach them to grocery shop. As your kids get older, they need to learn grocery shopping skills. Teach them how to tell if a piece of fruit is ripe or a vegetable is good (and if you don't know, now's a good time to learn!). Teach them how to save money on groceries. Teach them to use a list.
Take a deep breath, count to four, say a prayer. A little patience goes a long way. A lot goes even further.
Bring along a snappy comeback to those old biddies who tell you, "I never would have let MY children behave that way." I've never had that happen to me, but I do have friends who have. (One brave friend followed the wicked witch into the store to tell her how unhelpful, rude and ugly her behavior was.) How about, "Yes, well, at least they don't reprimand strangers who are doing their best" or "Oh, to be ninety and have forgotten these struggles"?
What are your best grocery shopping with kids tips?
Original photo: GoonSquadSarah