kids grocery shopping with cart

5 Tips on How to Grocery Shop with Kids, Tear-Free

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How to grocery shop with kids


Grocery shopping is a love it or hate it task for many. But whether you love it or hate it, most people would agree that the task becomes much more difficult once kids are involved. Grocery shopping with children can come with one of four T’s (threats, time-outs, tears and tantrums). But it really does not have to. Here are five tips on how to grocery shop with kids tear-free. YES!!!

Fill their Tummies

So you’ve got your shopping list, car keys, you’ve set the security alarm but, did you give your kids something to eat?If you are like most parents, there will come a time when you have to take the kids to the grocery store with you. For us, it’s at least fifty percent of the time. When your time comes, make sure to give the kids something to eat before you head out of the door. The saying, “Never shop on an empty stomach” also applies to kids. Taking your children to the grocery store while hungry is like eating a few bowls of chili just before a long road trip. You should not do it. If you do, something is likely to blow up. Be prepared for a grumpy, cranky, whiney cute little person(s) to make things very difficult for you.

Establish Some Ground Rules

As with any other situation, you have to let your expectations be known. If you waltz into the grocery store and hope that your kids will be well-behaved well…that may just not happen. So establish some rules before you get to the store. Let your “little people” know what they can and can’t do. Ex: Are they allowed to make grocery selections and/or put things in the cart? Are they allowed to run around the grocery store chasing each other like cats and dogs? You know, all the normal stuff. If you establish these ground rules initially, you will keep your surprise factor to a minimum.

Assign Everyone a Task

Make sure to give your kids jobs to do when they go shopping with you and they won’t feel so bored. Depending on the age of the kids, someone can be in charge of placing items in the cart, another pushing the cart, paying the clerk, checking items off the list etc. Of course if you are shopping with babies… just ask the baby not to cry and be cute. This is more easily achieved when the baby has been fed and their diaper is dry.

Make it Fun

Grocery shopping with kids can really be a lot of fun. The grocery store is a great place to practice letter recognition and colors. Play games like “I spy”, and matching.  Ask questions like, “Are these items the same or different?”. Help them practice their cognitive skills. Your child can practice counting by helping you get the desired number of items in the cart. Ex: I need five cans of corn. Can you help mommy get five cans of corn into the cart? If your grocery store has a seafood section with live lobsters or crabs, take a visit. Make an event out of it.

Use Props, Keep it Interesting

Modern grocery stores are full of fun things to keep kids entertained. There are digital scales, personal scanners and even little shopping carts like the one pictured in the image above. The key is to show the child what to do and monitor them to make sure that they are indeed helping and not deterring.

I did not say that the trip to the grocery store would be short but it will be tear-free. And that at the end of the day, having a tear-free mommy and tear-free children will make everyone happy!

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  • Comments ( 12 )

  • avatar
    Bethany Wright Dearden

    Great tips! I just have one, and it’s still a challenge!

    • avatar

      Definitely! No argument here.

  • avatar

    My favorite ground rule is the One Finger Rule: You can touch, but ONLY with one finger. It works really well, until they discover that if they push hard enough with that one finger, they can knock stuff over!

    • avatar

      Too funny. Where there is a will, kids will always find a way.

  • avatar

    Excellent tips! I’m pinning this one to share. 🙂 I have four children and it can be a challenge to shop with all four, but using some of the techniques you’ve mentioned above, it can be done! I’m visiting from the Get Inspired weekend blog-hop.

  • avatar

    Ha! My 6 year old fell into the tower of paper towels last time we went shopping and he really didn’t do it on purpose.

    I am def. going to let him start checking things off. That is a great idea and he would love it since he reads now.

    • avatar

      Those paper towels will get in the way every time :-). Hopefully, he will “shine” in his new role.

  • avatar
    Kathy C.

    These are great tips! My one child is grown and married now, but I do remember those days. 🙂 Here is a tip as they get older (to the age that you feel comfortable with them being alone in the store). When my son was a young teen, I made two lists: One had items that were unchanging, brands we commonly use, basic staples (if they are helping you in the kitchen and with cleaning, they get to know your brands). We would split off in the store and each shop our own list. It made shopping much faster, and it gave my son a great sense of learning to wisely price compare and shop on his own. 🙂

  • avatar
    Melanie Salinas

    Great tips! I will definitely need these soon. Right now they are small but my 20 mo old is already tired of sitting in the shopping cart and wants to walk around with us while we’re grocery shopping.

    • avatar

      Yes, I remember this stage very well. Maybe you can convince her to hop into the shopping carts that have the car attached…if your store has it. She will she feel like she is driving her very own car! Grocery shopping with “2 littles” can certainly be a challenge.

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