10 Steps to Make Shopping with Kids Easier

Photo By Jae Yong

So, there you are in the grocery store with the kids, one is asking for everything he sees, and the other is crying for reasons unknown to you. Has this ever happened to you? Well, I’ll say, it has for me on more than one occasion.

Obviously, we can’t always predict what our kids moods will be on any specific day or in any particular situation. This being the case, I figured out that the best thing to do on shopping days is to be as prepared as possible before I ever leave the house.

Here are a few things that help me survive my weekly shopping trips. Just to let you know, I do most of these things regularly.

  1. Go first thing in the morning or after a nap – The last thing you want to deal with while you are trying to decide which brand of toilet paper you want to buy this week is a sleepy kid. If she’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, she’s much more likely to remain calm and happy.
  2. Make sure no one is hungry – If you don’t feed junior before you take him to the place where he is going to see food, food and more food – well, you know that can’t possibly make for a peaceful trip.
  3. Go during the week – Instead of trying to fight the crowds on the weekend, try going during the week, if possible. It is amazing how much faster you can get in and get out. The grocery aisles are a lot less busy and you’re not having to wait forever in a check-out lane.
  4. List groceries by aisle – Making my grocery list by aisle has to be one of the best things I have ever done to make my shopping easier. It will tremendously cut down the time you spend in the store.
  5. Dress children accordingly – Sometimes stores, especially grocery stores, tend to be a little chilly. So, even if it is the middle of summer and you know that your little ones tend to get cold, bring along a light jacket or long sleeve shirt. A cold toddler can make for a grouchy toddler.
  6. Brings snacks and a sippy – Even if my 1 1/2 year old has just had lunch, when she sees food, she wants to eat again. I’ve learned to pack a little something in a sandwich bag for her to nibble on. Don’t forget the sippy, though, food and no drink is no good.
  7. Let the little one hold something – To occupy the little one’s mind, try letting him hold something that you will be purchasing. Of course, make sure that it is unbreakable, and not dangerous to your child.
  8. Explain to older children your expectations – Let children, that are old enough to understand, know where you are going and how you expect them to behave, before you get to the store. My son acts much better if he feels that he knows what is going on and that he is not just along for the ride.
  9. Get the kids involved – Older kids can be a great help if you let them. When you need something off the bottom shelf, ask them to carefully grab it for you. They will feel useful and needed, and you won’t have to bend over. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
  10. Don’t over do it – Doing too much shopping in one day can be very exhausting even for adults. For kids, especially when they are bored out of their minds, it can be even more overwhelming. Take it a little at a time and all parties involved will be much happier at the end of the day.

Shopping with kids isn’t always the easiest or the most fun event in our lives. However, many times it is necessary. But, by following some, or all, of these tips, it can make the trip a whole lot smoother.

Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks or spells that can make every shopping trip with kids trouble-free. Just think, if there were, we would miss out on those wild and crazy stories that begin, “you won’t believe what she did the other day at the grocery store.”

What tips do you have that help make shopping with kids easier for you?

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Posted on April 3rd, 2009 in Kids and Family | 9 Comments
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  • Hi Amanda,
    Great list, and yes I’ve been there (the crying for some unknown reason). Going after a nap with snacks and a sippy are musts for our little ones. I really like point 8 about explaining expectations I have a while to go before this will work but I will certainly keep it in mind!

    Sherri (Serene Journey)’s last blog post..Frugal Friday At On Simplicity

  • I just can’t think when I have a, “Mama, Mama, Mama” going on around me. Every Monday night I go shopping by myself. My hubby cleans up supper and gives my daughter her bath. It’s like a vacation 🙂

    Nicki at Domestic Cents’s last blog post..Benefits Of Outdoor Grilling

    • Amanda says:

      Isn’t it amazing how once you become a mom and don’t really have much time to yourself, all of a sudden, even the smallest things, like going grocery shopping by yourself, can be a “vacation.” I never understood this concept until I became a mom.

  • Laurel Plum says:

    Great list and tips! I am so glad I found you!

    I think kids sense your mood and it can escalate when they feel how stressed your are. Especially when they are really little. It may be hard to do sometimes, but I try to find a way to sooth myself, too. Occasionally that helped calm my son down a lot.

    Laurel Plum’s last blog post..Menu Planning Part 3 – Cooking Big

  • Modern Mom says:

    Great tips! My kids are grown now and I’m glad they did not give me that problem when they were younger. 🙂

    Have a terrific weekend.

    Modern Mom’s last blog post..Green and Clean

  • Jendi says:

    I’m so glad that my husband will grocery shop for me once in a while. Now that the youngest is almost 3 it’s much easier. I can have them look for things and explain what we need.

    Good list!

    Jendi’s last blog post..Visit Garden Vines

  • Dawn Williams says:

    One more suggestion that worked for me when mine were younger – Living in a warm climate, I would either take their shoes (and socks if worn) off and place the girls directly into a shopping cart when I arrived in the parking lot (it was usually possible to park near a cart). I noticed when they were younger this would work well, they would not stand up in the cart and try to climb out if they were barefoot. Now when they were older is another story (they’d climb out with or without shoes). I guess I raised a pair of monkeys. When younger, they would simply sit and look out of the cart as I went about adding items to the cart. I also tried it with putting them in the cart in their socks, but did not work as well, they’d still stand up in the cart. I think it was not comfortable for their barefeet to stand on the steel bars of the cart – in socks it was not as bad so they’d stand (which was one step before trying to get out). Now why don’t carts come with built-in cage for housing the wild ones?

  • dawn perry says:

    You forgot one on the list — remove child’s shoes and socks. Why? Because you can place them in the shopping cart and they will not want to stand up like the girl in the picture is doing – because it will be uncomfortable to her barefeet. Also you will have a good excuse when the child wants to get out of the cart to keep them in it – you have no shoes. Worked well for my two daughters (*until they were older and would climb out of the cart and it did not matter to them if they were barefoot or not). Works until they are older anyhow.

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