Some days I'd rather walk the plank than bring my kids shopping with me. I freely admit to having low mojo days when, if possible, I leave my youngest at home or bring her along, but strap her securely into the shopping cart, with a snack and my iphone.
Does she enjoy being confined to the cart? Not for long. Once her snack runs out, she stages a loud and wriggly protest. The iphone apps don’t amuse her for long either. In fact, once when my attention was focussed on label reading, she “misplaced” my phone. I contemplated having customer service put out a loudspeaker call to find it, but instead I retraced our cart tracks and found my phone on a shelf in the bread section. I don't have to tell you that left me feeling a little crusty. However, bringing along a pint-sized shopping sidekick doesn’t always have to spell disaster.
Here are ten points to consider when shopping with Littles:
- Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Shopping in a hurry with a child in tow is a recipe for frustration.
- Never attempt to shop when your child is tired or hungry.
- Never attempt to shop when YOU are tired or hungry.
- Children are “helpers” by nature. Making them part of the process, is both a learning experience and it gives your child a sense of importance and independence. My daughter likes to choose the apples, but she doesn’t need to know I secretly put the bruised ones back when she’s not looking.
- Give your child choices, e.g., “Should we buy these big tomatoes or the baby ones?” This is especially helpful for picky eaters who take ownership of their selections and are more apt to eat items THEY chose.
- How else will children learn to behave appropriately in public if we don’t give them the opportunity to practise? Yes, your child *may* topple over a display of neatly stacked plums or *possibly* hide just slightly out of reach under a shelf and have you on your hands and knees pleading with them to come out. But, these embarrassing scenarios will lessen the more often you go out. I promise.
- Bribes are perfectly acceptable. I keep a baggie of yogurt covered raisins in my pocket. When my child makes it successfully down an aisle without running, grabbing, yelling and/or whining, she gets a treat.
- Establish a code phrase. My little one is a bolter, so proximity is essential. She knows that when mummy says (or shouts if proximity goes awry) “Hand on cart!” she is to return to the cart and touch it with one hand. It took a bit of obedience training (where do you think I learned the bit about the reward treats?) but she’s got it now. Do I get funny looks from people whenever I blurt out the code. Yes. And it totally makes me laugh.
- Talk with your child about the colours, shapes, quantities, etc. of things as you make your way around the store. Grocery stores are brimming with teachable moments.
- Allow your child to “pay” the cashier. Sigh, if only they could actually pick up the tab with their credit card and leave yours free for a little online shopping. ;)
- Finally, involve them in the “putting away” process when you get home.
Grocery shopping with my kids is a social outing – aka a “practical field trip.” While it’s not the most quick and efficient way to shop, where else can you find life lessons, lemons, lobsters and linguini under one roof?