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Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days-10 Tips For Shopping With Small Children

We do small shopping trips to our local grocery store for milk and things that we need in between big shopping trips, but once a month, we head up to the "big city" 45 minutes away from our small town to stock up on groceries.  Between groceries, Princess's gluten-free/nut-free/dairy-free/egg-free foods, clothing, and my boutique supplies, we usually end up making 4-6 stops and spending all day shopping.  Not fun, especially when you have small children!  Here are a few tips I've found that make shopping with kids easier.

1. Park next to the cart corral.  I feel uncomfortable leaving my kids in the van while I walk halfway across the parking lot to put the cart away, but bringing them with is a hassle as well.  I always park next to the cart corral and then I can buckle them in, put the cart away, and never be too far from the van.

Target Corral
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryce/237233725/

2. Bring snacks.  I used to pick up snacks while we were out shopping, but that can be more expensive than bringing your own.  I like to use reusable snack bags like the ones shown below for cereal, crackers, or other non-messy snacks.  I also bring bottles with spill-proof lids or sippy cups along for drinks rather than buying them something while we're out.

Reusable snack bags from Etsy

3. Have them help you shop.  I often ask them to look for certain things while we're shopping which makes them feel like they're helping me or we play "I Spy."  I've also seen shopping lists for kids to keep them occupied at the store such as the ones seen below.  You could also easily make your own by putting clip art of food on a word document and printing it. 

4. Talk to them.  Describe things you see to them or ask them to do the same.  Ask them questions to get them involved.

5. Never give in!  This means when they whine or ask for things (as they will do!) don't reward that behavior.  EVER.  If you do it one time, they will continue to beg, whine, and throw fits every time you're shopping because they know you will probably give in again.  My mom had a rule that if we asked for something, we definitely wouldn't get it, but if we didn't ask, there was a chance we'd get a treat when we were done shopping!  This is something I do with my kids too now.

6. Make regular trips down the toy aisle starting from the time they're babies.  Seriously.  If you start when they're too young to ask for things, you can train them to NOT ask for things.  When we're walking down the toy aisle, I will stop and point out different toys.  When we're done looking at it, I tell the child to say "bye-bye" to the toy because it has to stay with its "friends" at the store.  They generally will happily comply and learn that just because we see fun toys at the store, that does not mean that we will buy them.  Sometimes Princess will ask for something, and I tell her that if she wants it, she can put it on her Christmas wish list or save her money for it herself.  By the time, she gets home, she's usually forgotten about it completely.

7.  Go over the rules outside the store.  Don't wait until they're acting up to remind them.  I go over the rules before we even get out of the van to go into the store.  This way, they are fresh in the kids' minds, and they're aware of the behavior I expect from them.   

8. Plan a break.  The reason I like to leave first thing in the morning for a big shopping trip is so that lunch time falls somewhere in the middle of the day.  This breaks it up for the kids and allows them to get some energy out.  We either hit up a restaurant with a play place or I take them to the mall which also has a play area.

9. Hit the bathroom before you are stuck in the middle of the store with a cart full of food, and a child doing the potty polka.  The bathrooms are usually inside the door somewhere so take advantage of that and head that direction before you even get a cart.  If your child is afraid of those automatic flush toilets (like mine are) keep a pad of small sticky notes in your purse and put one over the sensor until you're ready to leave the bathroom stall. 

10. Have them hold the cart.  My mom did this when she would do her all-day shopping trips with 5 small children, and now I do it with my kids.  Having to chase kids around the store is a sure-fire way to make the trip a nightmare.  This is also a safety issue!  Put the youngest child in the cart seat as long as they still fit and have the others hold onto the side of the cart.  Make sure they know that there will be consequences if they let go and follow through!  It doesn't take them long to learn.

What are your tips for shopping with kids?

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  1. That is a great list! I used to use looking in the toy aisle AS the reward when my kids were younger ;) I've used a lot of those tips (like parking by the cart corral) even on smaller trips. When your kids get older, shopping trips are a great time to have them practice their math skills (although I admittedly fight not to lose patience as my 7 year old weighs all our produce).

  2. Wow, this is really good advice!!!! I'm 7 month pregnant with my first, and every time I go somewhere I think about how much SLOWER and DIFFICULT it will be with children. I know there are tricks to making it work, so I need all the tips I can get! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Great ideas! Parking by the cart corral is something I ALWAYS struggled with! If there wasn't a spot open, do you put your baby in the car first then return the cart? Or return the cart and carry your giant baby in their giant carseat? LOL!
    I'm definitely going to try to get my Big One to practice holding on to the cart before the baby gets here!

    1. It kind of depends on the weather. If it's nice out, I usually take the kids with me to the cart corral (although more walking through the parking lot means more chances for one of them to bolt into traffic!), but if it's icky or cold out, I buckle them in the car and lock it. That still makes me a little uneasy though!


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