Grocery Shopping + Kids = Chaos (tips & tricks)

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Grocery Shopping + Kids = Chaos (tips & tricks)

If your grocery/kid shopping experiences have been anything like mine, then I’m sorry. What should be a simple 30 minute excursion to stock the pantry turns out to be an hour and a half nightmare!

One kid has “the gimmies” (that’s what we call them in our family, thanks to the Bernstein Bears), another is tired and wants to fit in the cart that is already occupied by the carseat (with baby) and the toddler who is flying off the handle because she wants to get out and not “stay by mom”, and the last little rascal is complaining that he’s got some really important playing to do at home and “how many more things do we have to get?”

Meanwhile, I am
racing through the aisles, stressed that my stress will cause me to forget certain ingredients. I’m also trying to get out of there as fast as I can because the meltdowns only get worse. I’m plowing past all the store employees who come up and look at me with pity and poke at my kids, saying things like “oh, are you sad, little guy?” Yea, he is…watch out. I start fumbling through my purse trying to find any smarties or cheerios that may be floating around the bottom. Needless to say, I have had way too many experiences like this. I get home and feel super grouchy, exhausted and frustrated because it shouldn’t be so hard. Am I alone here?

Well, luckily…I’m managed to put together a few little tricks in my bag that have helped me get through the shopping madness in one piece.

Enter my iPod.

I went to the store and got me-self some kid sized headphones

Then in iTunes store, I downloaded lots of fun kid’s music (Disney for the younger, Def Leppard for the older). I also put on some cute little cartoons for them to watch (Tigger & Pooh, Batman, Pink Panther, Pee Wee’s Playhouse (whoo-hoo! love that dude!)) They even have childrens audiobooks like “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Stone Soup,” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. So, whenever one of the little rascals is losing their mind, I just pull my ipod and headphones out of my purse, set them up, and off we go! I love my ipod for doctor’s offices, long car rides, anything that test the patience of me and the wee ones.
So, that takes care of one kid. What about the rest?? Well, you will probably need to get some more ipods. Pocket change, right? Alright, no. So, how about this…
grocery list

My older kids LOVE when I will give them a notebook and pen with their own grocery list of things that we need at the store. I just write down like 6 or 7 items and it’s their job to help me find them. It takes a little bit of preparation but not much. Say, two minutes. It totally keeps them busy and involved.

After we’re done getting the groceries, they love when I will go to the self-checkout line and they get to pretend they are cashiers. (You could even make that a special thing for good behavior.)

Another option, is making a little game for them. Write up a list of things they might see at the store…toothpaste, a pharmacist, a yellow box of cereal, a green fruit, a spill on the floor, lobster, etc. And, just like the grocery list they check off the different things they see. Maybe if they can find most of them…they get to pick a treat! (That way you aren’t rewarding them for their behavior outwardly, it’s a reward for the game…but secretly for their good behavior too!) Or, give the same list to a couple kids and make it a competition…but probably either reward both or neither….to avoid fighting on the way home! Treat or not, this would totally keep the little dudes busy.

Grocery shopping day
Image by .imelda

When all else fails, head to the cookie/cracker aisle, bust open a box of Smores crackers and sneak them out to the little dudes when the employees aren’t looking. You can use my justification if you want…it goes like this…”Do these people want me to spend my time and money here? Then they better let me buy some time with this box of Smores…I’ll pay for it in a minute.” It works for me every time. No guilt.  However, you may not have to do this…several grocery stores give out free cookies at their bakery if you ask (sometimes they have them on display).  Target does, for sure.  Harmon’s will give you samples of everything.

And, while we’re on the subject, there are sooo many cute shopping cart covers on Etsy! I love this one by Michael Mooo Design.  These keep your kids hands and mouths off of all the shopping cart germs.  But, I also love them because my babies are happier in them….way more comfy!




Owner & Author at Or so she says...
Mariel (mahr-eeee-elle) is a mother to six, wife to one. Loves homeschooling, golfing, cupcakes, traveling, cuddling, non-fiction books, gardening, James Taylor, and family time. This is her blog. Enjoy!
12 Comments On This Topic
  1. Jessica
    6 years ago

    Oh the grocery store…. and I only have two! Thanks for the tips cuz!

  2. DeNae
    6 years ago

    Yep. You’re a genius. I still neutralize my kids with iPods, and the oldest is 21.

    And I’ve paid for more empty wrappers than I care to think about. It was feed the kid or abandon the cart, folks.

  3. suburban hippy mama
    6 years ago

    This hits close to home. I just got back from what should have been a 15 minute trip to walmart w/ my 4 kids (ages 4 and under) that turned into an hour! The kids were actually ok, all things considered, it’s the onlookers that hold us up w/ their helpful comments of “You’ve got your hands full” and “Look a red head…oh 3 red heads!” “Are they twins?” I know they mean well…my kids are adorable, but let me finish my shopping already and get out of here before me or one of my children have a meltdown! lol

    Great ideas, thanks!

  4. The Rennakers:
    6 years ago

    Sometimes I let an older one push a younger one in a little car with a handle on the back (we visit the toy isle before the food section on these occasions). Or I hook two carts together with the seatbelts to make a train – one cart for my stuff and one for the chillins and their contraband (w/a blanket on the bottom if they’re lucky). Yeah it’s heavy, but it’s more fun and I don’t have to ditch my stuff to chase them down.

  5. Emili
    6 years ago

    I feel the pain! I usually don’t go (now that I’ve had my third), because I have a carseat and 2 toddlers and it’s just more difficult than I can handle these days! But this morning, I had company and I needed to run grab a couple extra staples so I ran to the store at 7am. It was BEAUTIFUL, practically empty and all the shelves stocked. I say go early and go alone, it’s worth it to get up at 5 if you have to. I got 3x as much as I planned (because I couldn’t believe how easy it was to shop alone in the empty store), so I made the most of it. Shopping alone = pure happiness…

  6. Mariel
    6 years ago

    Thanks for all the comments! I never thought of doing a cart train. Do the seat belts really reach each other…does one cart just push the other cart forward?? I’m trying to picture this.

    Yea! I love shopping alone. I’ve been really early to and it’s almost as satisfying as getting a massage. It’s so relaxing to go shopping with no kids…and be there early enough that no people are there either. …the soft music on the overhead speakers…oh, I can feel the peace right now. Thanks for the fun image, I’ll have to go there in my mind (and hopefully in real life) more often.

  7. KT
    6 years ago

    sounds familiar! I usually wait until Brooks gets home and go w/out the kids, no matter how much he complains:)

  8. The Rennakers:
    6 years ago

    It sounds strange, but I’ll try to explain . . . you take the seatbelt from cart A (loosen her up)and loop it throught the rungs on the front of cart B and buckle it. Both carts are facing the same direction. Pushing doesn’t work, however – so pull you must. But a good job for an older kid is to steer the caboose.

    btw – love the ipod idea.

  9. James and Summer
    6 years ago

    love the train idea! glad you posted about this so that all of us can learn!
    And – totally adore the shopping cart cover!

  10. Reb
    6 years ago

    All I have to say is Genius! I will be passing this along to my cousin.

  11. racenmommy
    6 years ago

    awesome ideas…i just may have to try the train thing. i also love the game for things they might see, i thought you could go a bit farther & make it into a bingo. They could mark it off with a pencil or stickers. Thanks for the tips. I would rather scrub toliets than go to the store with the kiddos. Its such a struggle.

  12. Jen Hooge
    6 years ago

    We don’t have ipods, but we did get the kids their own mp3 players for Christmas. This is a GREAT idea. The last couple of times at the store have made me insane. Next time I’m grabbing their mp3s on the way out the door.

    Now, what do you do for the ‘gimmies’? My son does this every time we go to the store. I hate that he feels so entitled.

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