Grocery shopping with young kids can be quite an adventure! You never know what may happen—diaper blowouts, spilled food, meltdowns, a child wandering away, etc.
Though it can be challenging at times, I love grocery shopping with my two little ones. I’ve found that there are a handful of strategies that make shopping trips educational for my girls, productive for me, and fun for all of us.
How to enjoy grocery shopping with little kids
- Make a shopping list. I feel like you’re asking for trouble anytime you grocery shop without a list. This is especially true when you have children with you! It’s difficult to think through what you need while your children are vying for your attention. Save yourself some trouble and make a list before you leave home.
- Take snacks along. Hungry kids are grumpy kids. Hungry parents tend to be grumpy, too, and they buy more food than they need. Subsequently, it’s helpful to take easy-to-eat snacks with you to the store.
- Babywear. In my experience, babies are very content while being “worn” by mom or dad in a carrier. This means they’ll be happy for even lengthy shopping trips. If you breastfeed, it’s also relatively easy (and discreet) to nurse the baby while he or she is in the carrier, so you can take care of this without having to stop shopping!
- Set clear expectations. Children generally do best when they know what is going to happen and they know what you expect of them. Therefore, it is beneficial to let them know what to expect before going into the store.
- Tell them if you need to move quickly and you are just going to grab a few things or if it will take a while because you are there to get a lot of groceries.
- Explain if you have behavioral expectations of them. For example, when my older daughter first started walking beside the cart with me, I would explain to her that she had two choices: She could walk right next to the cart and keep her hands to herself or she could ride in the cart. Those were her only two options. I’d give her one reminder if she tried grabbing at items on shelves or tried to step far away from me. If she tried a second time, I’d put her in the cart. She quickly learned what was expected of her if she was going to have the privilege of walking beside the cart. Whatever your expectations are, be sure to communicate them clearly to your kids before each shopping trip.
- Go at a less busy time. A lot of people shop for groceries on Saturday afternoons and on weekday evenings around 6pm. At these times, the aisles are crowded and you have to wait in line longer to pay for your groceries. If possible, avoid shopping at these times. Go during off-peak hours (such as first thing in the morning) so you have more breathing space and less waiting.
- Have them help. Little kids love getting to do the same things that mommy and daddy do, so they will help out enthusiastically. They’ll be having fun, but they’ll also be learning!
- If you need a certain number of lemons, bananas, pears, etc., have your children count with you as you select them.
- If you’re choosing between two items (such as vanilla yogurt and strawberry yogurt), ask which they would like.
- When you are looking for a particular item, describe it by color, size, and shape. Have your kids look over the shelves and see if they can find it.
- In stores that offer kids’ carts, let your children push their own carts. Be sure to communicate your expectations about behavior!
- Don’t let the stares and comments of others get to you. At some point in your journey as a parent, you will have a child have a meltdown in public. Likewise, you’ll have to address various misbehaviors. People tend to stare at you during these incidents. Sometimes they even offer unsolicited advice. Don’t let the stares and advice get to you. Be kind, but don’t do something just to appease others or to get your kid to stop as quickly as possible. Stick to the expectations you’ve set and do what is best for your kids. At times like this I like to recall the words of Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” I am the Lord’s servant, so I don’t have to worry about what others think of me. Instead, I need to parent in a way that pleases Him. Thankfully, He gives us grace and wisdom to do this!
You’ve got this! When you are relaxed and enjoy grocery shopping, your kids do likewise.
Do you enjoy grocery shopping with your young children? What things do you do to make shopping trips fun and productive?
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