Ideally, I'd always shop alone. But that's just not life.
So in the mean time, I thought I'd share how I shop with multiple littles in tow. Currently I have two boys, 3 and under, who accompany me to the grocery stores. Next month we'll be adding a newborn to the mix. And yes, I fully intend to continue shopping the same way. Thank goodness for baby carriers!
Before we get into the details of how I shop, I need to explain our family philosophy:
For us, when a child is born into our family, they become a part of our already established family. You might be saying, duh, that's obvious isn't it? But allow me to explain further. What I mean by the child becoming a part of the family is that they are not in any way, shape or form the focus of our family. Even when it was just Isaac. Instead of everything revolving around my children, they are simply included in the everyday going-ons of our family as a whole. We are not a child-centered family.
One specific example of this is grocery shopping. Not only are they included in this activity, but they are expected to behave while doing it! It's just a part of life. And because they have both accompanied me on almost every shopping trip, they are used to it and guess what, they do behave! because that is the expectation.
What does grocery shopping look like for us?
To give you a bit of background, you can see how I menu plan and prep for shopping here. Basically we shop for 2 weeks at one time, every 2 weeks. Once my list is completed, we head out, usually first thing in the morning. The reason for this is two-fold: 1. the stores are close to empty so Isaac can wander outside of the cart without getting into anyone's way. 2. I feed them breakfast at the first stop rather than at home so we can get going first thing.
We always go to three stores in one trip. Yes, I take both kids to 3 different stores. It usually takes about 2 hours, which is one of the benefits of having almost the same exact shopping list each time. I know the stores, I know exactly where everything I need is and we are in and out.
At the first stop, which for us is Kroger, Eli sits in the top part of the shopping cart (when he was still a baby I wore him in the Ergo and Isaac sat in the cart). Isaac usually sits in the big part while he eats his donut and then gets out to walk as the cart begins to fill up. I give neither kid toys, ipads, iphones or anything to distract them (I'm not going to say that those things are necessarily bad, but just that using them teaches a child they get what they want and aren't expected to behave otherwise. Besides, we severely limit any screen time in our house). Instead, we talk about what's going on around us and what we see. I ask Isaac questions about the items we are picking out, especially in the produce section. The only "distraction" they get is our first stop to pick out a donut for Isaac and a bagel for Eli. It usually takes them about half the trip to eat.
One suggestion when picking out food for your children to eat while you shop: Either pick something that has a barcode to scan- and be sure to keep it so you can pay for it! or pick an "each" item. This would include any bakery item or a produce item that is priced each rather than by the pound. If you pick something by the pound, it becomes impossible for the cashier to ring you up for the correct amount since your child will have eaten the item (believe me, as a previous grocery cashier, this was a total pet peeve!)
Another suggestion with older children would be to have them help you shop. Give them their own list to shop for or let them know what to look for on each aisle and in the produce section. Involve them in the activity.
Oh and always ask for stickers at the checkout for the kiddos. Isaac always remembers to ask and has quite the collection these days.
Our second stop is Trader Joe's. Here Eli sits in the cart and Isaac walks. Some TJ's have kids' carts which can be a great way to get them involved. Our's does not. This one is usually a quick trip because I only get a handful of items, but they're essentials! TJ's is the easiest trip for us because Isaac is always on the look out for the kangaroo so he can get his treasure at the end of the trip. There are also plenty of yummy samples at the back of the store which I always give to the kids.
From there we head to Sam's Club. I love Sam's because there is room in the cart for both kids! So both sit in it. By now, we've run out of food so they are expected to simply shop without any distraction at all. Again, we have conversations the entire time we shop. There is plenty to look at and talk about in a big box store so they usually do very well. Isaac's favorite part comes toward the end when we stop in the meat department to watch the rotisserie chickens spin. I don't know why, but he loves it. From there we check out, load up the car and head home!
There is really nothing special about how we shop or what we do while we shop. But the one huge piece of advice I would give to all parents is that if you plan to take your kiddos shopping, start doing it while they are very young and do it often. The more they go, the more used to it they are, the more it becomes a normal part of life and the better they will behave.
Do my kids sometimes complain or fuss? Yeah. They're kids. But for the most part, our trips are quite enjoyable and a part of daily life.
I'm curious, do you take your kids grocery shopping? What tips or tricks do you have for shopping with them and staying sane?