Shopping with kids and maintaining sanity…really?
Yes! It really is possible to shop the stores with your children and not go crazy! All you need is a bit of preparation and a change of perspective. Regarding the latter, view each shopping excursion as an opportunity to train your children. Concerning preparation, here’s a few tips:
1. Teach BEFORE you go! I usually make my reminders in the car so that it is fresh on their minds but also make a point to teach the shopping rules before we even leave the house.
2. “Practice” shopping! Ever since our oldest son was 2, I planned certain trips meant only to pick up a few items so I could focus on teaching him how to follow our shopping rules. The trip was more about training than shopping. By the time our second child came along, the oldest helped teach her by his own example!
3. Keep the rules simple and easy to remember. What are our rules? “Stay by the buggy with quiet hands, quiet feet, quiet mouth.” Each easy to remember rule launches us into a discussion about what they mean. For example, “stay by the buggy” means you walk next to the buggy. “Quiet hands” means the hands can only point at an item and touch only the buggy. “Quiet feet” mean the feet can only walk. “Quiet mouth” means, well, you get the idea! So, instead of saying, “Quit asking for things!” I say, “Quiet mouth.” Instead of, “Don’t touch that! Put that down! Keep your hands to yourself!”, we focus on “Quiet hands.” Instead of, “Stop running! Get back here! Slow down!”, we cover “Stay by the buggy” and “Quiet feet.”
4. Bring necessary snacks and drinks, especially when shopping trips are long. They can be rewards for good behavior and keep blood sugar levels at their optimal levels for both Mom and child. Additionally, if you have a baby and need to find a quiet place to feed her, bring a few little books or small toys for the other children.
I regularly grocery shop with all 4 kids, ages 2 to 8. It does make me tired, I will admit; yet, they are well-behaved for the most part. I rarely have to fuss at them by saying, “Stop touching that!” “Quit asking for things!” “Stop running!”
If they stray, I remind them about rule #1. If they grab an item, rule #2 comes up with an encouragement to point. Reminding them about rule #3 is the most frequent for me because my kids love to run, jump, tap, and dance anywhere we go! Rule #4 ensures they never ask me to buy them anything or interrupt my busy brain with multiple questions. Even the 3 year old can now repeat, “Stay by the buggy and quiet hands, quiet feet, quiet mouth!”
And, of course, I am never averse to rewards, hugs and even some candy, for good behavior! Sanity is a prize worth treating.