Tips on Successful Grocery Outings with young children
Going to the grocery store, no matter how many items you need, can be a daunting task to most mothers with small children. Here are a few tips that may turn that shopping nightmare into a pleasant experience, even for the children.
Going to the grocery store, no matter how many items you need, can be a daunting task to most mothers with small children. You worry about them staying in the cart and not falling out because they keep standing up, or one of your children throwing a rather large tantrum in the middle of an aisle, and you worry about spending more than you intended because the children want snacks and toys. By the time you're done with your shopping and in the car again, you just feel so stressed out that you vow never to bring your children grocery shopping with you again!
It doesn't have to be this way. There are many tricks and tips any mother can use for their small children when going to the grocery store or just about any kind of shopping errand. Here are a few tips that may turn that shopping nightmare into a pleasant experience, even for the children.
First, never go the grocery store hungry. This means you and your children too. When you're hungry it's harder for a mother to respond to her children appropriately because let's face it, when were hungry and a stressful situation comes up it is much harder to handle and much easier to reach for the nearest chocolate candy bar while letting our children duke it out by themselves in the grocery cart. If possible, plan to have a meal before going to the grocery store or a healthy snack. That way you can control your stress levels better and ultimately buy less of those "impulse" items you don't need.
Also, bring a snack for the children to have at the store. Bring cereal in little baggies and give it to them after you arrive at the store. That way they are less likely to have "the wants" and you won't spend money buying impromptu snacks for them while there. The snack can even be something special that's reserved for grocery outings - a special lollipop, granola bar, fruit snacks, etc.
Put together a busy bag. This can be a small bag with a couple of crayons and some paper, a favorite book, a small wipe board, or anything that would keep little minds focused on something other than the grocery trip. You can even reserve this busy bag for grocery outings so the children look forward to using the items in their bag when they go with you. Make a grocery bag - a crayon, pad of paper, a couple of books.
One of the most important rules of grocery shopping with children is to make a list. Whatever you need, make sure it is written down or inevitably you will end up with all the things you don't need but wanted, and forget all the things you really did need. Making a list doesn't just help you with remembering what you need; it also gives you a definitive mission with a certain time frame. If you go into a grocery store without a mission of what you need, your time in the store will be much longer and the children with certainly protest in their own ways - i.e. tantrums, crying, complaining. Also, when you have a list you can involve your children in the task. Tell them what you need to get, where you are looking for it, and even tell them how much things cost. Let them occasion be a learning experience in finance. And, along with making a list, don't doddle. If you feel yourself being pulled away from the task at hand by other things not on your list, resist the temptation. Chances are you children will recognize it and react accordingly.
However, before doing any of the above, do not go into the grocery store if your children are already being disobedient or throwing tantrums. Your entire grocery trip will follow in the same pattern. When they are not behaving as you would like going into the store, quickly take them back to the car, put them back in their seats, get in the car yourself and tell them you are going to have a time-out for a few minutes and then start over. This "time-out" can be a good time to review their behavior and what you expect of them or just have some silent time for them to calm down and get themselves ready to start over. This technique has worked wonders on my two young children.
Though, we all know there are days when children or a particular child is having a bad day and despite every effort, will not cooperate in the least. If you cannot cancel the grocery trip and do it another time, then have a close friend or relative you can call in such an emergency. This friend or relative can meet you at the store and take the child off your hands while you complete your shopping. However, the time with the friend or relative should not be fun for the disobedient child. It should be a time-out or quiet time sitting in the car with them so they know it is not a reward, but a punishment.
Some parents really look forward to shopping at the grocery store or going on certain errands, and it should be that way. Hopefully these tidbits of advice can help keep it that way. Some of them may work for you and others may not or you may even be able to mold some of these techniques into your own working methods. Whatever your needs are, have a happy shopping experience!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kari Hoopes is the owner of Sweetly You where you can find unique bath body products, and create custom bath and body gift baskets.