Grocery shopping with kids seems to be one of the quickest ways to cause stress and create chaos for everyone involved. However, with a bit of planning (and some luck), you can understand how to grocery shop with kids without losing your mind.
Make a list. Try to organize it by the sections in your store. Highlight the essentials (You’ll see why this is important later).
Don’t bring your kids.
Since you probably have to bring your kids, pick a time where the stars align: your kids are well-rested, well-fed, and the grocery store isn’t likely to be crowded.
Understand that the stars will not align and you may hit all three of the above at the wrong time.
Try to shop at a store that is kid-friendly, like one where they have to search for a wolf or where they hand out cookies (or bananas).
Park next to a cart return. Even if this is further from the store, this will save you stress in the end. (Note: You may want to park one space over because if you park too close to the cart return you won’t be able to get your kids out of the car…this may or may not have happened to me personally).
Bring your own bags (be good to the environment and save yourself some money depending on where you live).
If you have a small baby, try baby-wearing. This is one of the best ways to keep baby happy and accomplish your task. Don’t put the carrier on top of the cart. It looks like these are designed to go together. They’re not.
Bring a snack into the store.
Forget the snack? Good news—you’re in the grocery store! Grab something your kids will like and keep on shopping.
Double check you have your wallet so that you don’t have to later explain to someone that you’ve eaten some of their food and can’t pay.
Open your newest snack, and explain that this is technically stealing (see, we’re teaching life lessons here), but that you will pay for it. Remember you’re on a mission to get out of there with what you need.
Refer to your list and power walk through the store. (One or more of your kids are melting down? Grab the essentials for your family (the top 5 things you need to survive) and get out of there as fast as you can!)
Forgot your list? Make a new one. Don’t just wander the aisles. You’ll end up wasting time. Think about what you normally eat for all meals, snacks, and some extras for you (whatever your treat of choice is- mom-life can be hard!)
Get all the food you need.
Say no to the extras the kids want.
Feed them more of the snacks in the cart and remind them that they have to find the wolf. Or find things with the color red. Or that have the letter P on them- anything to distract them that you have an actual task you need to complete.
Double check the list is complete.
Breathe a sigh of relief that you have everything you need and head to the cashiers.
If you’re me, you’ll choose the line that looks the shortest/fastest. Nine times out of ten, that will actually be the slowest line. So, good luck choosing the “best” checkout line to get into.
Explain to the cashier why you have several food items open and to charge you for anything else that is no longer in the cart, like the banana that your child ate.
You might be exhausted and hungry by now, so try to put one of your snacks near the top of the bag during checkout.
If anyone offers help to the car, don’t be proud. Accept it.
Not offered help? Make sure all kids are accounted for and make your way to the car. You might be annoyed that you parked further away, but once your groceries and kiddos are in the car and you can put your cart away four feet away, you’ll be glad for your earlier choice.
Drive home and enjoy your snack. If the kids ask for some, tell them it’s veggies.
Once you’re home, bring the groceries and your kiddos in.
Unpack all of your groceries; be thankful that you don’t have to go back to the grocery store for a few days (hopefully longer).
If you’ve forgotten anything, add it to the new list for next time.
Double check the car: maybe you’ll find that item you thought your forgot to buy. Or, you might notice that your pound of American cheese is still in the trunk. (This may or may not have happened to me…two days after the grocery store trip).
Start the next meal or snack. Because if we’re not grocery shopping or planning the trip, someone is probably hungry and asking for food!
There you have it, only 30 steps to low-stress grocery shopping with kids. Want no-stress grocery shopping? Leave the kids at home, shop at a store that has Starbucks, and take your sweet time!
Sara Robinson, MA is the founder of Get Mom Balanced. Growing up she always knew that a traditional 9-5 job would not work out for her: she likes variety, creativity, free-time and also wanted to fit in a family. She is a mom of two young boys, teaches mental skills to athletes, and now helps support moms finding balance with all that they juggle. When she's not sitting behind a computer she can be found hanging out with her boys, mostly laughing, reading and having dance parties. Go visit her site at Get Mom Balanced.
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