I have three beautiful, sweet, precious, children. MOST of the time. However . . . walk those kiddos into the grocery store, and some days within just a few minutes some serious havoc breaks lose. My middle daughter is a perfect shopping companion (seriously, she's the best!), but my youngest (and even oldest!) can sometimes become difficult to manage.
So, since summer is just about here and many of you may be shopping with your brood like I will be, here are a few tips that might help along the way:
- Have your coupons organized and list ready before heading into the store. I try to have my coupons stacked in the order of my grocery store, so it's pretty simple to get through the store quickly!
- Before going in to the store, explain what behavior you expect while shopping. This is one of those things that I often forget to do, but makes such a difference as we shop. Explain to your children what's expected, and consider offering a small reward for good behavior.
- Don't shop when your children (or you!) are hungry. If it's lunchtime, feed your kids first, then go shopping. (When my kiddos were little, occasionally I would shop at lunch time and grab them a string cheese to eat . . . and keep them busy . . . while we shopped. But especially with tiny ones, make sure they're fed before heading to the store!)
- Don't shop at naptime. . . unless you have an infant. When you have an infant, sometimes it's easiest to shop as they sleep in the carrier (I loved those days!) However, as they get older do not ever grocery shop at naptime. (Did you catch that?) Try to shop early in the day if you can, especially with toddlers.
- Stop by your store's bakery for a cookie. Most stores offer cookies for free, and one great hint that I've heard is to use this as a reward after the grocery trip, so that they have to behave the whole way before receiving their treat! (Unfortunately it's too late for me on this one, my kiddos are already trained!)
- In the produce aisle, let your children pick the produce. Tell them how many of each item to grab, what color to look for, and let them know how many pounds you need of an item so that they can weigh it for you.
- Send your children on a “coupon hunt”. I give my littlest coupons for items that are on sale in the aisle I'm shopping in. However I can send my older children to hunt down coupon bargains by themselves. (Note that my older kids are 8 and 11, and I still keep my 8 year old pretty close to me, and only at our small local Publix . . . I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving my older ones on their own at a larger store!)
- Praise your children for good behavior. I don't know how this works in your home, but at our house, it often just takes me saying “Gee Caroline, you're doing a great job of listening . . . ” to immediately get my two other (slightly competitive!) children to fall inline.
- Don't get candy in the checkout lane. If you can at all prevent this, it will make your life forever so much simpler in the future. My kids occasionally bring money to buy candy themselves at the checkout lane, but as a rule I don't buy it for them. (I know that's a tough one, but it's what works for us!)
- Remember that it's okay to miss a deal. I love a great deal as much as anyone, but sometimes when you're shopping with young children, it's not worth the savings to make your children suffer. Just yesterday I forget a $3 off coupon at home before shopping. I sat in the car, asked myself “Is it worth ten minutes of my time to go home for $3”? Normally I would say yes, but when shopping with my little one, it absolutely was not worth $3!
- When all else fails, shop without children. Shop when your spouse is home, or trade babysitting with a friend or neighbor for grocery shopping trips. While I normally shop with at least one of my three children, if I have some serious couponing to do I try to leave at home! 🙂
Okay, those are all just a few tips that help me at the grocery store with my crew . . . what suggestions do you have? Most importantly, remember that these moments with our kiddos are running away fast, so it really is okay to miss a deal or two!