Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Do You...Grocery Shop With Kids?

How do you take kids grocery shopping without losing your cool?

Last June I shared about my experience of  taking over the grocery shopping for our family after Brian had handled it for almost seven years.  All summer and into the fall, I ushered the kids into Walmart every other week and we shopped together.  Once Brian's grass-cutting schedule slowed down at the end of October, I began shopping in the early evening and bringing one or two kids along while the rest stayed home.  Throughout the winter when Brian was home all day, I shopped in the morning or early afternoon and let each of the three older kids take turns shopping with me.  (They viewed it as a privilege to come along.)  Now as spring draws near, I've been anticipating (and slightly dreading) the need to bring all the kids on my grocery shopping ventures again.  It's not that they're not well behaved (most of the time).  It's just that grocery shopping is  a long and tedious job that requires much of my concentration and bringing five little talkers along isn't easy.

There are a few things, though, that make my shopping trips run more smoothly.

1. Shop early in the morning.  I try to leave home as soon we can dress and eat breakfast.  I like to pull into the store parking lot, no later than nine o'clock.  The store is less busy in the morning and the aisles are clearer.

2. Review the expectations before we get out of the vehicle.   I think I know how my children will behave in the store... until we get in there and they are picking things up off of every shelf and getting their shoes caught under the cart wheels.  It helps to remind everyone (when we are still in the van) not to yell, argue, wander, whine, or ask for things. 

3. Bring a snack.  I don't care if we finished breakfast on our way out the door or if lunch is in an hour.  A little bag of snacks is a life-saver when the kids are getting restless and start picking on each other.  

4. Assign an older child to entertain the younger children during check-out.  It never fails!  The kids can be angels the whole way through the store until I'm loading groceries onto the counter, and then they want to whine and wiggle out of the cart.  The older kids are masters at coming up with silly songs that entertain both themselves and the little people they are trying to impress. 

Do you grocery shop with your kids?  How do make the job easier?     Let us know in the comments! 
If you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too.   

{Edited to add: After reading this post, Anna was inspired to write her own grocery shopping tips here.    They are worth a read.}


  1. Yep, from day one of having kids I have brought them along for the shopping, nearly every single 2 weeks of the last 10 years. And I agree with yours. Sometimes it's just really difficult, but I work so hard on not gritting my teeth. Spot on, Mama!

  2. Hi Kristin!

    When I went to share my grocery shopping tips yesterday, I realized that I had too much to say about this topic for one comment. So I decided to just write my own post about it!

    I agree with all of your tips, by the way. Isn't it crazy how even the simplest things can turn into an adventure when children are along for the ride?

    Thanks for your post!


  3. I don't have this problem anymore except on occasion when I take my older two out and both want to push the cart or use the self-checkout lane at the same time. Actually the last time I took all 4 with me, the hard part was dealing with impatience and extra items mysteriously making their way into the cart. It seems that one of my children (who will remain nameless) has a lovely way of reminding me that 'you said it would only take about 20 min, Mom, it's been over 20 min!'

    I remind them that they like to eat.

    Your tips are good ones. Snacks are always good to have on hand (or a free cookie from the bakery section is fun too - does your store give out a free balloon too? That can entertain...sometimes. Sounds like your older kids are a great help!

  4. Snacks are always a good idea. If I forget to bring something along, I'll let them choose one item each (a bag of chips or a snack-pack of cookies, for e.g.) from the store that they can munch on while sitting in the cart or walking with me while I shop.

    Something else that helps me is assigning each of my kids a list of things they have to help me get at the store. This keeps them busy at least part of the time since they love to 'help' out and, now that they're old enough, make their own shopping lists before we leave the house.


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