Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Have Kids. Still Must Shop.

I'm so grateful to have plenty of grocery stores in the area in which to purchase all the food my family needs and the yummy items I want. 

That being said, I also despise grocery stores with the passion of 1,000 unfed lions being taunted by a giant gnu just outside of their grasp. 

In my many, many years of grocery store shopping, I have come up with a variety of tactics to make the trip with children a touch easier.  By "a touch", I mean you have a good chance of making it out without having to do the walk of shame, dragging an out-of-control toddler to the car while your partially filled cart sits inside, waiting to be emptied by the grocery store worker who was giving you dirty looks as you left.

Here I have 10 Ways to Make Shopping with Children Easier.

(Daggum, I wish I knew how to make a badge/button thing.  It's on my to-do list.  Right after clean the outside of the windows.  Pretty much means it's never going to happen.) 

1.  Leave the kids at home.  It really is the best way to shop with children.

2.  The worst part of any shopping trip is the check-out line.  The candy aisle you can avoid.  The paying for the groceries aisle, you cannot.  Besides the candy and the stupid little toys, once your kid can read, those magazines take on a whole new level of danger.  (Count how many times you see the word "sex" one week.)  To combat this, we use the candy for good instead of evil.  While I unload the groceries onto the belt, I have the kids find different letters of the alphabet in the names on the candy wrappers.  And since I always choose the line that takes the longest (despite taking into account the check-out person, the number of people in front of me, and the fullness of their carts) we usually get through at least 18 letters.

3.  The elderly and children generally have the same naptime, so you can't avoid them at the store, which means you can't avoid the comments and stares from the grandparent set.  Instead of fighting it or trying to come up with good comebacks, be proactive.  Give them something of your choosing to talk about.  Let the kids wear the most outrageous yet adorable thing in her closet.  She wants to wear a tiara and tutu? Go for it.  He wants to wear his turtle costume in May?  Certainly!  The child will be happy in the costume, and the grandparents will smile and coo about how precious your little ones are.

4.  Unless you are ready to buy something every time you enter a store, DO NOT buy them anything they want. EVER.  If they ask, the answer is no.  This is not a time to be wishy-washy.  They can smell weakness a mile away and know when you are on the brink of giving in.  The whining and asking will not stop until they get what they want.  If they know that the answer will ALWAYS be no, they will no longer ask.  And don't fall for the, "If you buy it, I'll pay you back at home," trap.  These children have fried our brains.  They know we'll never remember to collect the money.

5.  Small children often just want to help.  Unfortunately, their help means a waterfall of apples cascading onto the produce floor.  Tap into their helpful nature by providing them their own "list" of things at the store.  When the big kids were little, I made flashcards, each with something we normally purchased at the store.  Each child had a ring of cards and was responsible for finding the items on their cards.  These days, I don't bother with the cards.  With two kids, it's a lot easier, so I just give them some coupons and tell them to find those items.

6.  Our generation is very good at distracting our children with food.  If you are going to try this tactic at the store, make sure to bring a snack that takes a looooong time to eat.  Ringpops are perfect for this.  Besides the fact it takes forever to eat them, ringpops are hard to drop.  Always beware of the dropping of the food.  The temper tantrum that will ensue when you won't let him eat something after it fell on the floor is just shocking to the system.  I have seen women who failed to bring a snack simply open something they took off the shelf at the store then pay for it when they get to checkout.  I have never done it, and I never will.  (I can say "never", seeing as how I am well past the most difficult grocery store runs of my life, and if I didn't do it then, I'm certainly not going to start now.)  It just seems too much like shoplifting to me.  The kids see Mom open something and eat it right off the shelf, but how often do they see her pay for it?  With a big box of something, it's harder, but if something smaller is opened and finished, how often is the item forgotten about and then not paid for?  I would forget.  So I just don't do it.

7.  If it's a rainy day, let your kids wear rain boots to the store.  It has two benefits.  One, kids can't run as fast with boots on, so catching him when he runs down the cereal aisle while channeling Veruca Salt, screaming, "I want it all and I want it NOW!" will be a little easier.  Two, you can be the awesomely fun mom who parks far out in the parking lot, next to the biggest puddle, so the kids can jump in it while you put the groceries in the van.

8.  Bring a toy.  The kind of toy is very important.  It must be made of only one piece, seeing as how multiple pieces will only mean you will spend 19.6 minutes each aisle picking up dropped pieces.  Examples of good toys are Travel Etch-a-Sketch or a "find it" jar.  (I made these for the big kids long ago.  Get a plastic jar with a lid, put lots of little items in it like coins, buttons, army men, marbles, etc, then fill jar with sand.  Shake it up, seal the lid (fellow rednecks will use duct tape) and let the kids look for the items in the jar.) 

9.  Be silly, but not too silly.  There is a fine line between silly to make a child happy and silly to get a kid all wound up and hyper.  Try for the first one.  Perhaps talk in a Julia Child voice as you pick things off the shelf, telling the kids why you're buying it.  See how many "gross" things you and the kids can find, the definition of gross being whatever you want it to be.  It's best not to do this from the moment you walk in the store.  Save it for right before the kids are about to lose it.  You do not want to be talking like Julia through the entire store.  Trust me.

10.  Talk and sing.  If all else fails, talk and sing.  I don't mean with the child.  I mean to the child.  I know you know what I mean.  That way of talking to your child, telling him why you are doing something, but really you are talking to everyone around you, telling them how you aren't a horrible parent.  You are doing a fabulous job raising your child, and he just won't meet you in the middle.  Something like, "I know you want out of the cart, but when I let you out of the cart, you ran from Mommy.  There are consequences for not following directions."   All in a high-pitched, sweet voice as you look at items on the shelf and ignore the child's cries and kicks. 

OK, so number 10 doesn't make the trip easier, but it usually doesn't get to this point until you are nearing the completion of your trip.  Far enough in that there is no way on God's green earth you are abandoning your cart for some unpleasant toddler.  It will give you the "respect" of the elderly and keep you from going all "Wal-Mart" on your offspring. 

That's all I've got.  Good luck out there. 

And if you have any ideas to add, please do so in the comments.

Have a lovely day!


  1. Most excellent list.

    You want a button? I got a raffle next weekend.

    1. I thought about that! But it would be too late for this. I just need to learn how, so I can whip one up whenever I want one.

    2. Next time you are at my house, I will teach you:)

  2. I'm so thankful all the time to shop with older kids who actually HELP get this weekly chore done faster!
    But these are good tips for newer parents!

    1. Thanks! My kids are helpful if I know exactly what I want and tell them to get it. Unfortunately, that's not usually how I roll, so the teens are a bigger pain than the little ones. And I can't put them in a cart in order to contain them.

  3. I so remember this. Oh yes I do. Do you know that the grand-babies were much more behaved than my own child. This is true and you'll enjoy grocery shopping again. I promise.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

    1. While I won't wish my days with my kids away, I do look forward to easier shopping!

  4. 1. Naturally, if at all possible. 2. I consider the ability to choose the longest, slowest line to be a GIFT. It's obvious not everyone HAS this gift, since others are in and out of the checkout line next to me at three times the rate of MY line. 5. MY MOTHER knocked down an entire display of ginormous boxes of maxi pads one time when I was in high school. I was on the other side of that store, acting like I didn't know her, SO FAST.... 6. I never have opened a box at the store and fed my kids, either. The ones who REALLY get me are the ones who feed their kids a banana or something else that is weighed at the checkout. Now THAT is stealing. 7. The rainboot tactic is nothing short of brilliant. Now can I list some even WORSE places to take your kids? :)

    1. How are we so very bad at picking a stupid line???

      Oh, if I were to do that, my daughter would be mortified! I'll remember it for a day she is in an especially foul mood.

      I was quite proud the first day I let them wear boots. It works beautifully.

      No, you may not. :)

  5. I can't believe you didn't include the #1 tip I witnessed the other day from Mother of the Year. Strap your screaming toddler into the cart, grab a bunch of bananas from the produce section, peel one right there in the store and stick it into a jar of open jelly from your nasty purse and let your kid smear it all over her face while you shop. What are the odds she paid for that nanner at check out?????

    1. What?!?!? Dyanne just commented about eating a banana, and I was floored by that. But to then dip it in jelly from your purse?? EW!! And how do people think that is OK?

  6. Ok I open foods all the time but have NEVER forgotten to pay. usually a bag of goldfish not produce by the pound, or small candy. Mostly because I don't buy candy. (at least NOT with the kids with me)
    our grocery store has a large cooler, i know this because on more than one occasion (with DIFFERENT children) i have walked up to the service desk and asked them to please place my cart in the cooler i will be back in a few hours. then i look at the child and say "we have been making bad choices so we cannot shop right now" they arleady know this because they have heard my child scream/cry/pitch a fit down an entire aisle as we head to the service dest, then i come back much later ALONE and finish shopping. But southern grocery stores are WAY different than the stores up north. WAY different. I cannot even begin to explain why ours are better/different/easier.
    Can you please give tips how to shop with a husband at the grocery store??? mine could use a little (lot) of training!

    1. Ha! I've never seen anyone eat more than a grape, but you're the third person to mention eating bananas in the store!

      How did you know there was a cooler?? And now I really want to know how shopping in the south is different.

      There is a store in my hometown which actually has a kids' room with sitters and all. Parents come in and drop their kids off to play while they grocery shop in peace. How awesome is that?

      As for the husband, mine is not allowed to go. He is the absolute worst! When I have to stop on our way home from somewhere, he waits in the car.

    2. Our grocery store bends over backwards for you. I can literally be in any aisle some employee will stop to ask if I need something I can mention an item 3 aisles away they will go get it in all the sizes and bring it back to me. If I am in the check out line and forget something they will go get it for me. Carry out service is policy, if I have more than 2 bags they will automatically carry them out. You can ask them to carry an item and they will notify you when they have it in. You just have to come down and experience our stores! I dread shopping anyplace else. Those are just some of the ways they do it in the south.
      When I shop with Keith he puts random things in the cart, or begs and looks at me with a smirk and I end up putting it in the cart for him I cannot tell him no. And heaven forbid if I send him to the store with a list. He will call me asking if he can get what ever it is he needs... I always give in to him he is so spoiled!

  7. I have a hard enough time keeping myself amused at the shops! I don't know if I'd be able to keep another human being amused too.

    1. Ha! I don't feel it is necessary to be amused at the shops. I just want to get my stuff and go. :)

  8. This is great!! When my daughter used to ask for things, I would say, "It's not on the list" or "maybe we can get it next time" So now she asks "Is this on your list today mommy?" OR "Can we put this on our list to get it next time mommy?"

    Forhead slap! But hey, I don't buy anything!!

    1. Hey, if she's not pitching a fit or begging and whining, it is a good solution in my book!

  9. Aha! The listicles are back! dun Dun DUN. A button would be great, and I need to do the same. I made a new banner thinking that I could use it as a button, but no way... doesn't work. You see like a "C" and some of the next letter and that is about it. Not really sure why, or what the difference would be when making something more square than rectangle. Maddening!

    What was that? Make games? Wait, what? Let them wear boots? Well, wait... Sing to them?

    I can't hear any of those over the sound of #1 ;-)

    At least you have children of age now able to watch the others if desiring to shop alone. I agree with the "saying no" from the get go. This seems a pitfall many parents fall into, and it's understandable, but once in it... they will whine until getting what they want. Maybe this is the early childhood behavior development where men later learn to constantly ask women to go out with them or sleep with them until they say yes? ACK Bad News Bears! Don't facilitate that deep-seated mentality!

    I love the Veruca Salt reference!

    I see people eating product they have just taken off the shelf quite often. Usually you will catch people sniping fruits like grapes, but sometimes they literally open product and eat from it, and sometimes just set it down somewhere in an aisle. It really sucks.

    Considering I sing a lot of what I am doing randomly (akin to Marshall in How I Met Your Mother), I'm not sure how viable a tactic that would be for me, but I've likely yeeeeeears until bothering to find out :-)

    Some things I was surprised (<-- that would be "strike"d out) glad I didn't find on the list:
    1. Duct tape their mouths.
    2. Let them run around the grocery store buck naked, which will undoubtedly get you to the front of the checkout line when time to leave.
    4.* Sell them to the black market for organ harvesting.
    5. Tell them if they misbehave that the Trash Man, an evil demon that travels through various garbage piles (and clothes piles) preying on the blood of children in the middle of the night, will find them and devour their souls.

    *ACK Pulled a Christine ;-)


    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink


Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you're thinking!