Shopping with kids can be fun

Savings Angel

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If there were ever a test for patience, it would probably involve going into a store with kids in tow. One child can be a challenge, add one, or two, or more and fatigued and stressed parents find themselves saying ‘yes’ to some kind of concession just to keep the peace.

I love my three kiddos. But… like kids in general, they can absolutely push each and every one of our buttons when out, at times. Take them into a store and they will undoubtedly be bored, obnoxious or continuously begging for something that is definitely not on your shopping list.

When you can’t leave the kids at home, try these strategies to keep your kids in line and your temper cool.

Don’t expect a “quick trip to the store”
Instead of setting an unrealistic time schedule for your grocery shopping, plan that a trip with the kids is just going to take longer. You, and the kids, will enjoy shopping much better if you can be relaxed about the time frame. Parents who go into the store with realistic expectations are more likely to avoid feeling frazzled when the kids start acting like, well, kids. A cart full of groceries is going to take longer than a 20 minute trip to the store.

Bad behavior strategies when shopping with kids
Along with adjusting your expectations, think about how you plan to handle the inevitable meltdowns and begging. What do you plan to do? Will you leave the store? Revoke privileges? Let your child earn a reward? Decide in advance, how you will respond.
Make sure your kids know your expectations before you get to the store. If you use the same strategy every time and follow through, it will reinforce you mean business.

Turn shopping into a game
Sometimes the best way to avoid bad behavior, is to turn shopping into a game. Depending on the ages of the kids and their abilities, you can utilize any one or a number of these “shopping games”.

  • Play peek-a-boo or sing softly to babies (wouldn’t you rather listen to humming or quiet singing than someone on their cell phone the next aisle over?).
  • Play I-spy with toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Let younger kids be your “helper” and put your selected items in the cart.
  • Kids that are old enough to read can be put in charge of the grocery list and direct the grocery cart to the appropriate aisle or section of the store.
  • Send tweens and teens to pick up items on your list. Or send them off with a coupon to find the exact item you need. You could also have them compare prices to help you find the best bargain.
  • Break out the electronics. Let your 10 year old play Candy Crush for a while if that will keep the peace.
  • Take a hand calculator and have the kids add up the cost of each item as it is added to the cart.
  • Kids that are capable of handling the grocery cart can be the “driver” as long as they don’t run into other shoppers.

Success is in the timing when shopping with kids
Finally, you can increase your chances of successful and stress-free shopping trips by planning the logistics just right. That means:

  • Head to the store at off-peak times when there are fewer shoppers to maneuver around.
  • Make sure everyone is fed and full beforehand (that means you too!) My kids are notorious for getting “hangry” (hungry/angry) if they haven’t eaten for a while. Or for younger kids, bring a snack from home they can easily eat. Some stores even offer a cookie or healthy snack specifically for the younger shoppers.
  • Know where the bathrooms are located and ensure everyone has had a chance to go at the start of shopping.
  • And don’t even think of shopping with kids during naptimes or after bedtime.

When you can hit the store with a smile on your face and stay positive, the kids are more likely to follow suit.

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