This week all 4 Moms of Many are discussing shopping with only little ones. Be sure to check out what the other moms have to say about it.
As for me, and I'm going to be honest here, I'd rather amputate my own leg with a rusty fork than go shopping with only little people in tow. There. I said it. Hate me if you want to. Love me if you can.
But as I tell my children when it comes to doing hard things, "It doesn't have to be fun, it just has to be done."
In light of that, I'm going to give you my best tips for making the task manageable. I'm not promising it will be any fun, just that it can be done.
- One of these 3 seater buggies is a HUGE help, if you can snag one. When our new baby is born, I will have the choice of putting her carrier in the main seating area and letting the 5 year old walk OR wearing her in a sling and keeping these three kiddos where they are. Anytime I can keep littles from running loose, I am all for it!
- If you do not have these buggies available to you, practice at home having the children follow you while holding onto an invisible buggy. Make stops at the fridge and the pantry and have them practice waiting patiently while you look over canned goods and fruit. Make sure you clearly explain your expectations. If you want them to always keep a hand on the buggy, let them know. If asking for toys/candy/cereal is not allowed, tell them so. (Yes, we have actually done this!) If you don't expect your children to obey you at home, don't be surprised when they disobey or act up in public.
- Make sure you go when no one is hungry or tired. Hungry and tired? A recipe for Mommy's Next Nervous Breakdown. Just sayin'.
- Providing a small bag of snacks to each child will help if you must go when the children will be hungry.
- Give the children something to do. Have them "help" you count how many circles, or red squares, or capital letters you can find. They may be able to get cans from the shelf or choose the biggest apples. I have even given each one a quarter to hold. If they act naughty or drop it, I will take the quarter away. When we get ready to leave the store, whoever still has her quarter gets a gumball. Their concern for the quarter keeps them quite occupied!
- For Pete's sake, DON'T DAWDLE! Shop, woman, SHOP! No matter how much you have practiced at home and how well rested and fed the children are, there is only a certain window of time their little attention spans can tolerate following you quietly along.
- Don't expect it to be easy. There are times when I have reached the check out line and have not been all smiles and sunshine. In fact, I'm pretty sure there was probably smoke coming from my ears. Just this week, I had to address a discipline issue with a certain 4 year old in the check out line who stomped her chubby feet and cried loudly because she "didn't get anything". I narrowed my eyes and whispered to her that if she didn't straighten up, she would be "getting something" on the hind end when we got out to the van. She unwisely chose to continue her tantrum, so I fulfilled my promise and spanked her when we got everything loaded up. [Note: I'm not telling you that YOU should spank or WHAT you should spank for. I'm simply relaying to you that we have clearly explained our expectations to our children and we are aware what they are capable of understanding and doing.]
- Look ahead! One day, not too far in the future, your children will be older and wiser. They will be able to push a cart or hold the hand of a little one. You will be able to send them one aisle over to pick out peaches while you choose chocolate chips. Things will get easier IF you have been diligent in your teaching of what is appropriate and acceptable in the grocery store.
These are the tips that have served me well when shopping with only littles. Do you have tips of your own to add?
*Be sure to see my other posts in the 4 Moms, 35 Kids series.