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Grocery shopping with young kids can be a grueling and treacherous experience, even for the most seasoned of mamas. Keeping children entertained while moving through the list of needed items can be frustrating and maddening, at times. We’ve all seen that mom who is barking at her children to keep up and not touch anything. She may even be dragging a misbehaving child by the arm. To be honest, maybe we have even been that mom ourselves. Fortunately, there’s a method to significantly reduce the odds of that happening. I used to dread grocery shopping, but with these tips, a more favorable pattern of behavior emerges, and a trip to the grocery store can actually be FUN. That’s right, I said it, fun.
First of all, I highly recommend ordering groceries online and picking them up. (If you’re concerned about the nominal fee, I promise you will at least save that much in coupons and in not buying things that you see and then think you need.) By doing this you can bypass the grocery shopping adventure entirely. However, when you must go into the grocery store, these tips are sure to help!
These 10 tips for Grocery Shopping with Kids that make a HUGE Difference!
1. Organize your list
Before you head to the grocery store, organize your shopping list based upon the layout of the store so that you can make one smooth loop, instead of traversing back and forth. Many stores have online grocery ordering, and even if you don’t actually order your groceries, you can look items up and see where they’re located in the store. You may be surprised to find you purchase the same things every week and a little effort now will pay off repeatedly in the future!
2. Content kiddos
Make sure your kiddos are well-rested and fed. Give toddlers snacks in the car on the way to the store and nurse/bottle-feed infants in the parking lot to ensure the maximum window of time. In fact, your grocery bill will probably be smaller if you have a snack, too! Shopping while hungry creates the urge to buy unhealthy options and more groceries than necessary. In case you forget to feed kiddos before entering the store, keep a snack in your purse. In an emergency, snag a snack off the store shelf, but make sure to save the wrapper so that it can be paid for at checkout. If it’s a hungry infant you need to tame, find a seating area, such as the couch display or the cafe.
3. Best parking spot
Look for special parking
4. Trek from the parking lot
Managing a toddler and an infant can be super tough; a mama only has two hands! I get my toddler out of the car first and tell him to touch the gas cover (I’ve seen magnets people place on their vehicles). Alternatively, you can unbuckle the toddler and have him follow the infant car seat as you remove it. This works great if you don’t have a ton of stuff on the floor of your vehicle (diaper bag, snack basket, oh my!), as I always do. Once I have the infant’s car seat out, I’ll hold my toddler’s hand. In the rare case that I don’t have a spare hand, then I have my toddler hold onto the other side of the car seat.
5. Cart tricks
The car seat can take up the ENTIRE grocery basket. If I will be buying more than a few things, I put the baby in a carrier and stow the car seat UNDERNEATH the cart. That way I have the entire basket. (You may be able to put the baby in the carrier in the parking lot and not need to bring the car seat in at all, but if the weather is bad, it’s much easier to put your baby into a carrier after you are indoors.) Toddlers should go into the cart seat. This alone can make or break your grocery shopping experience. Not only will it keep your toddler from getting in the way of other people, but he will not be able to “explore” items on the shelves.
6. Adventure mindset
Try not to rush. Put yourself in the mindset that this is an adventure, a fun learning activity for all. You can talk to younger children about what you’re doing and seeing. You can ask toddlers about the colors, shapes, and numbers of items. We sometimes walk through the home goods section and check out the wall art, naming the animals and talking about which art we like. I read off a few things on my list and have my toddler help me remember them. This is also a chance for mama to walk around and get a bit of exercise! Sometimes I pretend I’m a race-car driver… at least in the aisles where there aren’t any other people. 😉
Many grocery stores have family bathrooms, and those are ideal if you need to wheel in a cart with an infant and a toddler. It’s worth asking if there are any family restrooms if you don’t see any because sometimes they are in a different part of the store
Many stores offer freebies for kids! Our grocery store has free fruit in the produce section, free balloons at the flower shop, free cookies at the bakery (these make for excellent bribes, should you need one) and free stickers at the checkout. Letting kiddos taste free samples can also add to the novelty!
9. Kiddo expectations
Don’t buy anything that your toddler requests in the store. The candy machines and games can be equally lethal! If you do indulge your child, make sure to make a big deal out of what a special exception this is. Setting the expectation that he gets what he wants can spell trouble later. It’s amazing how doing something even once can create a strong association and the child will expect it in the future.
10. Reduce grocery-unloading time
Thirty-One utility totes are essential for reducing trips from the car to the kitchen. No matter how many groceries I buy, they all seem to fit into 2 totes. When you arrive home with hungry and/or sleepy kiddos, making fewer trips to bring everything in is crucial!
Life with an infant and a toddler is challenging, and grocery shopping with kids can be like running the gauntlet! With an organized grocery list, content kiddos, a smooth transition from the parking lot to the store, and an adventure mindset, this weekly chore doesn’t have to be one that you dread. Don’t be that angry mom about to lose her mind, instead enjoy the grocery shopping adventure with your kiddos!
Is grocery shopping a challenge for you and if so, what are the best tricks you’ve found to make grocery shopping with kids fun?