Is it that we really want to make grocery shopping more fun for our kids, or is it that we want to make grocery shopping less stressful on ourselves? I’d say, as the mother of four, that the honest answer is a good mixture of both. We don’t love taking our kids to the store; at least, no one I know or have ever encountered likes taking their kids to the grocery store. Even if they’re well-behaved throughout, it’s still a pain to have to take them in and out of the car, push that big cart around and have that distraction while you’re trying to pick up what you need. And you almost always forget something. And let’s not forget that moment of panic you feel in line when the people in front of you have 8000 coupons, your cart is already unloaded and you know you’ll be sitting idle with the kids for a while longer. Hurry, please, the peace could end at any moment, is the prayer you whisper from behind Ms. Extreme Coupon.
If you do take your kids to the store with you, we have a list of ways you can make this journey just a little bit more fun for them and, in turn, a bit more relaxing and productive for you.
Make a List
This isn’t going to make the trip more fun for the kids, but it is going to make the trip more productive for you. You are going to get to have something to remind you what you need and where you need to grab it while simultaneously trying to manage your kids, help them have fun and still get your shopping done at the same time. Additionally, a list is going to make it possible for you to actually get what you need, not forget anything and save money by not buying things you don’t need.
Make the Kids a Special List
Here’s where list making starts creating fun for the kids. You can make them their own small lists. I’d recommend doing this on a small dry erase board (Target has Frozen dry erase boards that are smaller than a book in their dollar bins at the front of the store right now) so that your kids can cross off what they pick up when they pick it up, e.g., Gluten Free Soft Pretzel Baking Mix for snack time. Not reading yet? No problem – draw pictures of bananas or apples or whatever it is they get on their special list.
Talk about Expectations in Advance
The entire trip is going to be more fun for the kids if you set the ground rules in advance. For example, if you tell them they can have a cookie or a bag of m&ms when you get home only if they behave in the store, they’re going to behave in the store. This is something I always do when I have to take my two older girls (almost 7 and almost 4) to the store with me; I set the expectations in the car so that they know what to do in the store and what’s in it for them if they behave, such as a treat or help loading the groceries onto the conveyor belt when we check out. They’re rarely ever anything but good when we do this.
Let the Kids Help Pick Things Up
When you find what you need, let the kids grab it. If you have walkers, they’re going to love picking up cereal from the shelf and helping you load the cart. It’s a fun job for them. If they’re not kids who walk and you’re not taking them out of the cart to do this, let them scan your debit or credit card in the machine or push the green button when you enter your pin. It’s the little things that make this trip exciting and fun for them.
Let the Kids Cross Stuff Off the List
Give your kids a crayon and let them cross things off your shopping list for you. For example, if your kids like to write, this will make them happy. When they feel involved in the trip, it’s more fun for them, and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Use a Basket
This isn’t going to work if you have to pick up a number of items but if you’re just picking up a handful of groceries, let your kids walk and carry baskets. Trust me when I say that this is actually easier than the big cart. Your kids will have their hands full, so they can’t get into anything and there is no arguing in the cart. Let them carry light stuff around the store in their baskets and that will be so much fun for them.
Let the Kids Read the Aisles
If your kids are of reading age or are learning to read and recognize numbers, quiz them. Ask them to find the aisle with pasta or ask them to point out aisle 5 for you. Keep them engaged and tell them that they’ll get a special treat if they get all the numbers right or something along those lines. This will occupy them and make them feel as if they are part of the trip.
Make it a Scavenger Hunt
If you have older kids, you might make this trip a bit of a scavenger hunt. Please note we are not recommending that you let your kids run rampant around the store out of your sight. We merely mean if you have to pick some things up in the cereal and coffee aisle that’s shared, send one bigger kid to grab the coffee and one to grab the cereal while you watch them both from the same aisle. This type of scavenger hunt is a bit of fun for them.
Stop at the Bakery for a Cookie
Sure, why not sugar them up while you’re in the store? If you stop by the bakery for the free cookie before you get started on your shopping trip, you’re going to keep their hands and mouths busy for a few aisles, and that’s fun for everyone. It’s especially fun to get to eat a cookie in the middle of the store.
Play I Spy
It’s a fun car game, so why not play in the store? You can spy sugar or milk or vegetables or whatever. You can play the game where you have to spy another mom with kids, or a dad with kids or a couple with no kids. Make it whatever you want because it’s all about what makes the kids happy.
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