Getting the weekly shop done is a necessary evil…grrr! With a tiny human in tow, it can be absolute mayhem! The little devils run out of patience very quickly and boy, do they let you know it!
To make pushing the trolley a bit more heavenly, here are our 20 top tips for keeping kids happy at the shops.
1. Timing is everything
If you can, plan your day around the best time to shop. If you’re not a morning person and your kiddo isn’t either, save the shop for the afternoon.
2. Don’t shop tired
The only thing a tired tot should be doing is sleeping. Drag one into the shops at your own peril. Wars have been started over less.
3. Take a list
Kids are pretty distracting so take the thinking out of it. Spend an extra five minutes at home to make sure everything you need is on a shopping list. Your brain will thank you later.
4. Set some ground rules
Before you even set foot in a store, have a quick chat with your rugrat about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. It’s not a magic bullet – kids forget quickly. But when you ‘remind’ them about their behaviour, it can help.
5. Prep work
We’ve all seen those lonely abandoned trolleys filled with groceries. Don’t get caught out – make sure your poppet starts your shop with a happy belly and empty bladder.
6. Curious behaviour
Kids naturally want to look at and touch everything. Pick your battles. Sometimes it helps keep their boredom at bay if you join in. Encourage their curiosity and make it a scavenger hunt or play eye spy.
7. Hands down
Take a book, craft or busy bag full of games and toys to keep their little hands and minds, well, busy. If you’re caught short, improvise. A free specials catalogue can be read, folded, scrunched or torn.
8. Feed the troops
Tiny tummies can be bottomless pits so keep a stash of healthy snacks on hand for when your munchkin gets the munchies. But don’t fret if you forget – you’re at the shops!
9. Personal shopper
Kids love being in charge so give them a job to do. Get them to pick fruit, pack the trolley, cross off the shopping list or use the self-scanner. The trick is to be patient and enjoy having the ‘help’.
10. Don’t rush
Be realistic about how long it will take to buy what’s on your list – then double it. Going grocery shopping with a tyke is like tying an invisible anchor to your trolley.
11. Beat the clock
If you really are in a hurry, try making it a race. Encourage your kiddo to help you beat the clock and offer them a prize if you win.
12. Jump around
If your wriggle bum won’t sit still in a trolley, get them out and exercising. Let them bunny hop down an aisle, walk on their toes, rub their tummy and pat their heads. It will help them let off some steam and give them a bit of focus.
13. Set limits
If you offer your tot a special treat while you’re out, be clear about what, when and where they will get it. Stick to your guns – it’s either that or nothing. Kiddos rarely pick nothing.
14. When this then that
Tiny humans have little patience – if they want to do it, they want to do it now. Turn their demands into a win/win by explaining first this, then that. ‘First we’re going to get all the vegetables, then we can go look in the kids section’.
15. Just rewards
Little ones love praise so let them know when they’re being helpful. Plan something fun to do afterwards like go on a special ride or spend some extra time in the playground.
16. Think small
If you’ve got a long list, take a rest midway though or try shopping in smaller stores, like your local butcher and grocer, rather than one big supermarket. It helps break up the shop and is less overwhelming for your kiddo.
17. Buy in bulk
Buy regular use items in bulk as much as possible. The more you buy in one trip, the less trips!
18. Shop smart
Instead of shopping just being a chore, use it as a chance to teach your tribe about your values. If you follow a budget, like to buy organic or care where your eggs are from, talk to your tyke about it and encourage them to be a smart shopper.
19. Plan ahead
Use your pantry and freezer as your own little corner store. Keep basic essentials stocked like UHT milk and tins of fruit in the pantry and frozen veg and bread in the freezer. It might just help you put off the shop for another day so you can go when it suits you best.
20. Keep calm and carry on
Some days things won’t go your way no matter what you do. Your kiddo will have an epic meltdown over nothing and that’s ok. Just keep calm and carry on.
And remember, there’s always online shopping!