Grocery shopping with small kids: 5 tips for a manageable grocery shopping experience!
I thought it might be fun to talk about something all of us mothers go through... begrudgingly. Here in a couple weeks I will be bombarding you with homeschooling posts so I want to throw a couple posts out there for some summer fun, before back to school begins.
A couple weeks ago I got a super sweet and encouraging message from a Mama of 3 through Facebook and was told that she was at the store with her 3 kids and ended up just leaving with only a few items out of a long list of items because it was too much that day. In her words, her kids just "would not chill and she couldn't focus or think" haha, oh it just makes me smile because we have all been there right?! Anyway, she told me that she had the thought, "how would Bre Stewart handle this?" which made me laugh to myself because I had a shopping disaster just that same week while taking all 3 kids to the store with me.
Have I mentioned that I am a complete mess?! I feel like I spend so many days just taking deep breaths and trying to collect myself to figure out how to get just one moment to think about what chore to tackle next, or if it is a "good" day to brave taking the kids out in public (no lie, we lost a shoe, an ice pack, both girls' hair bows and I'm sure some other random things I haven't noticed yet while we ran a few simple errands this week) or if I can manage to make dinner that night.
Now if I could dream up a perfect scenario it might go something like this, "Ok sweet husband of mine, I am off to the store, the kids are playing peacefully in their rooms. I will be right back!" (dream world right?!) but in reality, I have a husband that works all hours and we usually have a non-stop weekend therefore, grocery shopping with the kids is inevitable. (Anyone else hate asking for help from a family member or a babysitter just to get groceries?) However, I have had my share of successful trips to the store that just make my Mama heart burst with shouts of victory followed by a dance party. So here is a short list of tips and tricks to grocery shop with the little ones.
1. Set the ground rules before you enter the store.
I usually let my kids know that there will be no fighting, everyone stays in the cart (other than Jude, he does well just walking for the most part) and nobody touches anything or asks for anything. Haha, I sound so mean. However...
You can not expect clear results if you do not give clear direction.
2. Use the best hours of the day.
You know the ones I am talking about. That very short window late morning before lunch and nap time!
3. Pack a snack.
The kids will manage to tear open a box of cereal or pick a couple of grapes to eat "just real fast" but some mommy snacks to hide in the purse always seems to help.
4. Make a list.
Whether it is a list you keep on your phone or a pad of paper you keep on your refrigerator to write groceries down as you need them. Simply writing down a list throughout the week or even right before you get your groceries helps to organize your thoughts. Plus, studies show that when we right things down we remember them better anyway. ;)
5. Try to involve them a bit.
Say things like, "Okay, who can find the bananas for me?" Even "I spy", if they can do it without screaming. I even had the thought of a grocery store bingo, and naturally found a ton of sources on Pinterest like this Dora one from Nickelodeon. I would recommend something like this over handing the kids your phone any day. I feel like this is something we need to get away from, but we can talk about that another day. ;)
Now, I am not an advocate of bribery, I expect them to be good regardless, but sometimes if they do well through the store I will tell them they can pick out a healthy snack, in hopes that they remember the reward for being good the next time we take on the grocery shopping adventure.
This did backfire on me a about a week ago. I had my 4 year old with me and she chose a cheese and jerky stick and our favorite cashier nicely rang it up for her ahead of time so she could eat it while we were checking out and Lila did not like her snack and handed it back to the cashier to throw away. She then asked for another snack and when I told her "no" she threw herself on the floor in a crying fit. At first the sweet cashier tried coaxing her and then when she noticed I was not paying any attention to the matter she ignored the situation. Wouldn't you know that cunning little 4 year old jumped right up with no tears to be seen on her eyes when she saw me pull out my card because she wanted to "help run my card and press the buttons". The look on the cashiers face was priceless. Ha. The same cashier still reminds me frequently of when Gwyn threw the glass jar of almond butter on the floor and how mortified I was as I tried to go up and pay for it.
Set the ground rules and be consistent Mamas! It takes courage and consistency so they know what to expect. There are few things that can give a Mom more anxiety than a child acting out in public, but it does get easier.
Now I politely smile at the on-lookers and focus on the issue at hand because dealing the the issue at heart is way more important than worrying about what others think I should be doing in that moment as a parent.
Remember, at the end of the day, if you are doing your very best as a parent, that is more than enough. If you forget a few items at the store (which is bound to happen when grocery shopping with kids) just remind yourself that it will be fine and you are doing enough and you are doing enough WELL. Give yourself some grace and don't forget to grab your favorite treat to reward yourself after kids have gone to bed and you have made it through the day. ;)
Lots of prayers for you and your grocery shopping adventures!