Grocery shopping is like death and taxes, it’s inevitable. Sometimes you will have to bring your kids with you and we all know how that can turn out. They run up and down the aisles touching everything and screaming “I WANT THAT!” to anyone who will listen. But there are tried-and-true methods to curb this behavior and make grocery shopping with toddlers stress-free.
First, how long does it typically take you to grocery shop on your own? Now take that number and double it. Don’t take them with you if you are short on time. Rushing around the store with the kids will stress you out causing the kids to get stressed and start acting out.
So how can you find the extra time in your busy schedule? Can you combine the trip with dinner out? It doesn’t have to be an expensive, sit-down meal. There are quick places that aren’t fast food you can take them to and cut out meal prep and clean up time. It might not sound like the dream situation for you, but the kids tend to enjoy eating out.
The next important step is to be prepared. Little ones, under 18 months old, won’t cry just to cry. They are either wet, hungry, or tired (or all of the above). Make sure their base needs are satisfied before venturing out. Bring snacks and drinks just in case. Raisins are good because they take forever to get them out of the package. Engage the older kids in the shop by having them help retrieve items from the shelves. You could even make it a game. They will misbehave once they have decided they are bored. Which is another good reason to have them fed. Toddlers will interact with you more when their tummies are full. Of course, you might have to make a few pit stops to the bathroom with the potty-trained toddlers.
And finally, you could bribe them. Not to say do it all the time. But sometimes they need a little extra incentive to be on their best behavior. You can decide when to give it to them based on how long you think they can behave without it. It be something simple, like a lollipop, or their favorite book if you don’t want to give them candy. If things completely go south and your kids are about to blow a gasket, have them watch a movie on your phone and call it a day.
When you need to go grocery shopping with your kids, you need to create a situation they will behave in. Making sure you are not rushing through the store keeps everyone’s stress levels down. Eat a quick dinner out to increase the amount of time you have to shop. If you have a baby with you, confirm they have a clean diaper, they aren’t too tired, and have been well fed. Toddlers do well when they are involved in the process. And if all else fails, distract them with a movie long enough to high-tail it out of there.