Without a doubt, going shopping with my kids is one of the biggest challenges I have as parent. It can reveal the ugly side of my kids (and me) in some ugly scenes at times. Remember the time I ended up crying in the check out line? So embarrassing. But good news, folks! We live, learn, and gain some new tricks.
Here's what helps me shop with five kids. Trust me — if I can do it, you can, too.
Give yourself pep talks
No joke, I give myself mental pep talks. Our mindset can set the tone for how things go. I remind myself that it is only an hour of our time, that I'm strong, and I can do this. You, momma, are brave. Picture the blue face paint on and harness the warrior strength, just like you did for birth. You got this.
Much like teachers at school who drill the rules over and over, I remind my kids what I expect before we leave the car each time. Things such as one hand always on the cart, good listening ears on, don't add food to the cart without asking, and knowing “no” means “no” are crucial to avoid tantrums. I also remind them that the better they listen, the quicker we get done! I know it can be torture for them, too.
Use a baby carrier
Wearing the baby or toddler is very beneficial to keep little ones happy and close to you. It also makes more room in the cart for food! I usually have the baby in my carrier, the toddler in the seat buckled in (ha! I wish those buckles worked), and the older kids keeping one hand on the cart so they don't get lost (or, stolen in this crazy world).
Rewards and bribery
Rewarding has its place in these kind of moments. If my kids listen well, they get their treat at check out. Win-win! I also reward myself for making it through. Some moms may grab wine; I grab Kombucha and chocolate.
Make it fun
Create some games to keep the smiles on and make them feel included, not just dragged along. Give them the all-important task of holding the list, finding items, putting things into the cart, or helping to unload food onto the belt at check out. One brilliantly fun momma I know pushes the cart slightly ahead for a second, pretending her son is rolling away while saying, “Nooo! Come back!” It creates lots of giggles. Giggles are good for the sanity of all.
Providing a reason to sit still is helpful, but stabilizing the blood sugar crashes that can cause meltdowns is even more beneficial to make it through. Forget to bring a bag of snacks? I don't hesitate to open a package that we are going to purchase anyway. Some stores have samples available for extra snacking fun.
Go during quiet times
I've found going first thing in the morning is opportune time for our family. Fewer crowds make it less crazy in my head, plus it's easier to focus and get out quicker. It also means we've just eaten breakfast so we shouldn't be getting hangry yet! Other moms say going between six to eight at night is a good time.
Don't go in the store
Online pick up is a legit easier option for grocery shopping with young kids. Or, when you have a sick one with you. Or, you're 10 months pregnant and don't want to lug your belly around anymore. Or, you're short on time. Or, you just aren't up for the challenge today. Any reason, really. What's better than clicking a few buttons, pulling up to a speaker, telling them your name, and they load your groceries for you? The only down fall for me is that this option is only at select stores, so when I have to bulk shop or want specific foods, I have to buck up and shop myself.
Or... just don't take them
This obviously is the ideal plan whenever possible to stay the sanest and, dare I say, even enjoy the shopping experience. Sometimes waiting until there is childcare is most helpful to avoid the challenges all together. Lately I've been going more on the weekends when my husband is home. Or, enlist the help of your momma village and trade childcare so you both benefit.
Shopping is only part of the motherhood obstacle course, but it can be conquered! Hopefully these tricks can help you face the battle with confidence. Or, at least end up with some chocolate or wine to indulge in if it goes horribly.