I’d like to preface this post by stressing that I realize that many busy parents get their groceries delivered. But since that takes planning and organization, I often end up lugging along my three kids. It’s never pretty.
There are tears over Paw Patrol gummies that are never allowed in our cart. There are close calls as the kids dart through the aisles, nearly taking out other shoppers. And there’s always a moment of panic at checkout when I realize one of my kids is missing because they’ve discovered the motorized shopping carts.
But despite the chaos, there are benefits too. For one, the kids are more receptive and interested in what we’re eating when they help pick out the food. And they learn that what appears on their plate takes time, planning and money. Also, it’s called life. We can’t survive without food, and grocery shopping is how we get it.
And while it’s true that shopping with kids adds a whole new level of crazy, there are things I’ve found that make the whole experience better, and they are:
1. Go with a plan. Now is not the time to browse the produce aisle to see what items look the most fresh. Know exactly what you need since there will be little time to think on your toes.
2. Park right next to the cart return. Instead of finding the spot closest to the store entrance, aim for the one nearest to the shopping cart storage to make loading groceries easier.
3. Skip the fancy carts designed to haul your kids. Those carts shaped like cars are difficult to steer, and kids tire of them after 5 minutes, which means you’re stuck driving a boat through the grocery store and clipping other customers’ ankles. Ouch!
4. Make the trip a scavenger hunt. Give your kids a personal shopping list of three items: one you know you’ll pass right when you enter the store, one you’ll find in the middle, and one you’ll see at the end. It’s a game for them and it keeps them entertained throughout the trip.
5. Think snacks—and lots of them. Our grocery store lets kids pick a free piece of fruit, so we stop there first when we enter the store. But that’s never enough. Pack snacks in your bag or open up whatever you’re buying for them to eat on the journey.
6. Put them to work. Let them place apples in to the bag, toss cans of beans into your cart, and load the items onto the conveyor belt. Any responsibility that gets kids involved helps to hold their attention.
7. Make grocery unpacking a game. Once we’re home, we play a game called “who can find the garlic.” The kids unload the bags hoping they will win, and I get the benefit of having a few helping hands.
8. Survive unscathed. It wasn’t that bad, was it?