How To Avoid Catastrophe When Grocery Shopping with Kids
By Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
Have you ever come across a mom gliding happily across the supermarket aisles with her brilliantly behaved kids?
This supermom might have a baby in a kangaroo wrap, another in the front seat of the shopping cart, and possibly a third (and very quiet) toddler sitting in the cart itself, surrounded by piles of canned goods.
I have seen moms like that. And if you’re one of them you can stop reading this. Like right now. You will learn nothing here.
But if you are not like that supermom, and you experience a mild panic attack at the thought of towing your kids along with you to the grocery store, check out the ideas below. Some of them might just make shopping with your kids a less hazardous activity than you expect.
- Make a list
Or better yet, make two.
To avoid thoughtless purchases and impulse buys (much more likely when you’re busy making sure your toddler doesn’t bolt), make a thorough list of what you need before you leave.
And for your child, check out these cutesy tootsy grocery list printables that feature photos of common food items you might need. Hand your kid a pencil and one of these printables. Best case: he’ll be so busy on this supermarket scavenger hunt, he’ll forget how badly he needs that “breakfast cereal” — I mean, those tiny cookies that are disguised as breakfast cereal.
- Feed your kids. And yourself.
Eating before shopping is a must.
It will head off crankiness (for kids and adults), impede the over-purchasing of food you actually don’t need, and prevent impulse purchases of stuff that isn’t even food!
Yup. One study found that hungry shoppers actually bought more binder clips than non-hungry shoppers (binder clips! really!). Apparently, our mind translates those dratted “I am hungry” signals into “gimme gimme gimme!”. And yes, this also goes for kids and adults.
- Plan for snack attacks
Bring along baggies of snacks that can keep hunger at bay, and keep little fingers occupied.
Worst snacks: Anything especially greasy, sticky, or that has a very likely possibility of spillage.
Best snacks: Finger foods that take time and/or fine motor skills to eat. The busier you can keep those pudgy hands, the easier the shopping trip will be.
- Avoid the crowds
The last thing you want when shopping with kids is to be met with disapproving looks from strangers after your kid steers the shopping cart straight into that teetering stack of yogurts. And waiting in a long line after an exhausting shopping trip is not going to be pleasant.
For kosher grocery shopping, the worst times are Thursday, Friday, and before any yom tov.
For the large supermarkets, you’ll want to bypass the weekends altogether, as well as those after-work rush hours (usually from 4-6 pm).
As a general rule, any early weekday hours will have the least crowds. Plus, if you have little kids, shopping in the morning hours that precede naptime will be your best chance of having a smooth trip.
- Make it a learning experience
Get in touch with your inner teacher!
The grocery store is packed with potential educational experiences that can actually be fun.
Give these games a try: Supermarket I Spy, ABC or Color Hunts, guessing produce weights and learning to use the scale, reading food labels and store signs.
- Don’t forget the fun!
Food shopping may be a chore, but you can still find ways to make exciting. Especially when you have a kid tagging along.
Ways to amp up the entertainment:
- Download a new game on your phone to be used exclusively while you’re shopping. (Search “kids shopping games” for a bunch of cute and educational shopping/cash register games.)
- Let each child pick one treat of her own choosing. (Don’t panic! You can guide them with rules on nutrition and price, but try as much as possible to have them feel freedom of choice.)
- What could be more fun than shopping with a doppelgänger! Invest in a kid-size shopping cart, like this one from Melissa & Doug, and enjoy shopping with your mini-me. (Tread carefully with this one, though. You’ll have to be sure your child has enough patience to stick with the game and follow you around for the duration of the shopping trip, otherwise you might be stuck lugging around a toy cart and a screaming kid.)
And if all else fails, get a babysitter.