07 November 2014

Shopping With the Kids - It Can Be Fun!

How often have you left the children at home with Dad while you raced around doing the shopping because it was too hard to shop with kids in tow? Rather than leave them at home, why not take them with you so they learn how to shop? The younger they become used to the supermarket and sitting in the supermarket trolley the easier it is for you.

From day one (actually day 7, we were on our way home from hospital with Allan the very first time I took one of our kids shopping) I have always taken my children with me when I go shopping. As each baby came along it took a little longer and I had to be a little more organised, especially when grocery shopping, but it has always been a family affair.

The rules for a happy shopping experience with children are:

Everyone goes to the toilet before leaving home, even Mummy! You may still need regular toilet breaks so if you are shopping with children it pays to make a note of one or two toilets close to where you shop.

Be prepared. Depending on the age of your children you could require a change of clothes for the baby, nappies, wipes, bibs, plastic bags, snacks and drinks. Have at least a water bottle for thirsty little people. If your children are old enough to walk they can carry their own water bottle in a little backpack.

Take a shopping list. Even if you are only going to pick up a couple of things, a list is essential. It is too easy to become distracted, especially when accompanied by children, and invariably end up forgetting something or taking home things that were not on your list.

Get the kids involved. Give each child a task. Let them find things on your list, look for specials, decide on the fruit for the week etc. They won't have time to run around or ask for things if you keep them busy. And praise them for helping, kids like feel important and be thanked too.

No treats while shopping. If you do decide to get a treat (and it doesn't have to be edible) keep it until you are home. If you won't be able to afford a treat every shopping day then don't build the expectation . Make treats a random occurrence and as a reward for helping and good behaviour.

He who helps to buy it helps to put it away. Once you get home let the children help you put the groceries away. It's part of shopping after all.

And lastly if you have to say no to something, try to explain why. It may be too expensive, it may be poor quality, you may have a better alternative. Whatever the reason, explain it to your children so they understand you are not just saying "NO", there is a reason for it. This may cause problems the first few times, particularly if they are used to you saying yes. Ignore any tantrums or sulks. Be strong, you are the parent and it is your job to say no occasionally.

Taking the kids shopping with me could have been stressful, and in all honesty sometimes it was, but not very often. Don't get me wrong, they had their moments. And I had mine. But for the most part shopping with three under four was fun because we had rules and a routine.

After a while and with a little practice these rules will become second nature and your shopping trips will be fun too.

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