I tried out grocery pick-up for the first time yesterday. It was super easy and convenient. One of my friends mentioned that she always uses it so she doesn’t have to lug her 3 small children with her into the store. I can see how this would’ve been so convenient for young moms. While I saved money and stayed on the budget using online shopping, I missed picking things out myself. Finding unexpected deals is a fun part of shopping for me. Kind of like a scavenger hunt. Shopping is a breeze for me now. I enjoy going during the weekday, when the stores aren’t very busy and while my kids are in school. Shopping is one of my hobbies. But I still remember the challenges of taking them with me when they were little.
Last week, I was at a store and I saw this little 2-3 year old girl in a cart watching a very questionable YouTube video. Her parents were around the corner of the aisle not even paying attention to her. I thought to myself, “Do you have any idea what she is watching on there?” This is quite common when I shop now. Kids have an electronic device in the cart and the parents aren’t paying any attention to them. Screen time is screen time no matter where you are and I see so many kids getting way too much of it!
How can you shop with kids without their electronics? I shopped with three little kids and still enjoyed had positive experiences. I’ve thought a lot about this lately. Shopping is another great opportunity to teach your kids and have personal interaction with them as well. When my oldest was little, we would go to all kinds of stores and places together. We were never restricted by nap times or feeding times, we just went. My kids learned to be resilient and to go with the flow. They took naps in the car as we were travelling places. I spent time nursing in the van in between shopping trips. Having kids was not a reason to stay home and never go out of the house.
Here are some of things I did while at the store with my kids.
STAY BY ME. After hearing so many horror stories of kids getting snatched, I set up strict rules with my kids while in the store. They had to always be in the cart. Youngest was in the front and always buckled. Next oldest in the back. When they were about 5 (and too big for me to lift them into the cart) I finally allowed them to walk, but they had to hold my hand or help push the cart. I actually loved the carts at Costco (for 2 kids) and Target (with the extended seats for bigger kids to sit). As they got older, I finally let them go off on their own, with a buddy and a cell phone so I could find them later.
INTERACT WITH YOUR KIDS. While you are shopping, you have a great opportunity to interact with your child. You can teach them words, interact, and play games with them, sing nursery rhymes, etc. When my kids were little we would play games or talk about things as we shopped. I would have them repeat things, help me find things, and search for certain colors of things. I’d ask questions like, “Can you find the milk?” and they would repeat it when they found it. Or play games like, “I’m looking for something green!” I know this was a big part of my oldest daughter’s large vocabulary at such an early age. You can learn a lot at the grocery store!
TAKE SNACKS. No one likes to be hungry! I always kept snacks in my diaper bag. My kids loved the popcorn chicken from Walmart so we would get one first and they could share it while we shopped.
KEEP THEM IN THE CAR SEAT. I would make sure my babies were fed and changed before we went in to the store to make the experience better. Sometimes, they would fall asleep in their car seats. Added bonus, people are less likely to touch your child if they are in a car seat. I can’t believe how many strangers thought it was okay to touch my kid’s face, head, or hands. Crazy people! Don’t you know how much I hate germs?
FIND DISTRACTIONS. I brought some things to do in the diaper bag. Sometimes I would let them read a book or play with a new toy in the cart. They knew that I wouldn’t buy it, but that they could hold it or play with it until we got to the cashier. Sometimes I did give in and buy it for them.
LET THEM BE A PART OF THE SHOPPING. Give them jobs to help. Have them get the item off the shelf for you. Let them hold the shopping list to tell me what we need or they can check it off. Talk about the ingredients and what you will make with them…Like if you are getting butter for cookies and how yummy they will be. Have them put the carts away or bag the groceries. When they are older, I like to remind them what they need to look for before we go into the store. This seems to help them focus a little better on our purpose there.
TEACH THEM TO BUDGET. Once my kids started getting money for chores, I ended up saving a lot at the store. Every time they wanted something that I didn’t want to buy, I would ask them, “Would you still want this if you have to pay for it with your own money?” Most of the time they would put it back. They also learned they were much more likely to get a treat if it was on sale. My kids are super frugal shoppers now. Here’s my post about teaching your kids to budget.
MIX UP THE TRIPS. Don’t always go to the same store. Mix it up. I find different products and deals at different stores. Variety is good for the kids too. My kids loved the samples at Costco. Don’t only go for groceries either. Take them to the park or Grandma’s to play. Stop at the boring stores on the way to somewhere fun.
Don’t worry, it wasn’t always roses when we shopped. My kids had plenty of tantrums. Sometimes they were sick. I still remember one time, my child threw up in the cart and it dripped all throughout the store on the way to the bathroom. Yuck! Stinky and embarrassing! I think it was worth it though because my kids learned how to behave in public, how to be good shoppers, and how to deal when they are bored. 2/3 of them love shopping now. Not too bad.