September 2013 Parenting Tip: Survive the Supermarket

As we all know, supermarket shopping can be a challenge when kids are in tow.  It not only extends the shopping time, but can add stress to your shopping experience.  I personally love food shopping and while it’s not as quick with the kiddies, and much less relaxing (yes, I find it relaxing), I don’t mind bringing my kids along with me.  There is no reason why the supermarket can’t actually be fun.  Yes, I said fun.

Are you tired of the constant, “don’t touch that” or “leave him alone” or “no, you can’t have that”, escaping from your lips over and over again as you stroll down the isles?  Here are some cute ideas and tips that will turn your  supermarket stress into shopping success!  You will soon notice those familiar dirty looks from fellow shoppers turning into envious smiles.  Your kids will enjoy their shopping excursion and so will you!  (Depending on the age of your child/ren, you may need to modify a bit.)

Photo credit: digital art
Photo credit: & digital art
  • The first rule is to make sure your children are in the right state of mind to accompany you to the supermarket!
    • If it’s nap time, let your child nap.  Do not choose the supermarket instead as you will regret it!
    • Make sure your child is rested, fed and has a fresh diaper on or for older ones, have relieved themselves before you all head out the door.  There is nothing worse than “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom….NOW” while shopping, or dealing with a cranky baby who should have been fed his bottle 30 minutes ago.
    • Bring healthy snacks and a beverage with you for the kids.  If they are less hungry, their mind won’t be craving as many items.  Same theory as for adults…never go to the supermarket starving…your bill will explain that one.
    • Before you step out of the car, explain your expectations of your children and provide them with both a reward and consequence for their behaviors.  If they are good, use indoor voices, don’t beg for things, don’t fight, etc., they will get a cookie at the market (mine gives them out for free).  If not, then they will not only lose their cookie but will lose dessert after dinner.
  • It’s all about the cart!
    • At my supermarket, and I believe at most places, the store provides special kiddie carts.  We have one that looks like a car with steering wheels and although they are impossible to navigate through the isles, the kids enjoy it.
    • Here is a big mistake to avoid.  Depending on the time and day you go shopping, there may or may not be any kiddie carts left.  If you promise the kiddie cart ahead of time and get everyone excited, only to find out they are all being used, it could lead to a possible meltdown before you even enter the market.  To avoid this situation, as you drive into the parking lot, try to glance at the cart selection (our kiddie carts are kept outside), and if there aren’t any available, don’t mention that they even exist!
  • It’s time to shop.  Now what?
    • Make it fun and get silly, that’s what!
      •  I should state that when you participate in these supermarket games, you may get some strange looks.  The good news is these glances won’t coming your way because your kids are acting insane and are seen as and example of birth control for the twenty something women in isle 9.
      • You will be part of a special club that only you and your children are members of and from experience, it feels pretty great!  Don’t be embarrassed and instead be one proud mama…and have fun!
    • Get as creative as your mind will let you.
      • On our walk into the market, we decide on a color and when we see someone wearing that color, we choose silly sayings and actions we have to complete.
        • This week, our color was blue and there were a lot of people rocking’ out with their blue tops in the market.
        • Once spotted, our word was “Macalaca Chicken Dog”, which the kids made up and  has absolutely no meaning. It’s silly to say and gets us all giggling.
        • Last week our color was grey and our saying was, “Macalaca Cream Cheese”, along with a kiss we had to exchange.
        • Next week, we decided that instead of a saying, we will high-five and do a silly dance.
        • Other ideas can include doing a jumping jack, fist pumping while saying “Woop Woop”, or even making silly faces when you spot the color of the day.
        • If your child is younger, you can talk him through this game.
          • For example, “look, he is wearing a blue shirt so Mommy is going to clap every time we see blue, okay?  Will you clap with me?”
        •  The possibilities are endless and trust me when I say you will all have a blast!  Who knew the market could be this amusing?
    • It’s always great to incorporate learning into your games at the market.  (You can tailor this to your child’s age.)
      • A great game to play is Eye Spy, which is a clever idea because by the time everyone figures it out, you have everything you need and are ready to move on to the next isle.
        • Examples might be,  “Mommy spies something yellow in this isle that can be used on hotdogs” or “I spy something that begins with the letter C that we like to eat in the morning”.
          • You can take turns with your child coming up with the product.
      • Incorporating numbers into your shopping is extremely beneficial to your children.
        • “Mommy needs three rolls of paper towels.  Can you count with me?  One, two, three”, as you place them in your cart.” or “can you place three rolls of paper towels in our cart?”.
    • If you are shopping with a baby that is old enough to sit in the cart, peek a boo is always a winner.  If they are too young to speak or are just starting out talking, tell your baby everything you are doing while shopping.
      • For example, “Mommy is cooking chicken soup tonight so I will need orange carrots, green celery and a yellow onion.  I will stir the soup (demonstrate a stirring motion) and then we will eat it all up (put your hands to your mouth or your baby’s mouth) and say, “yum yum yum yum, yum yum” and end with a tickle.
      • “Do you love apples?  Mommy will buy three red ones for you”.
      • Your baby is listening and learning from you, even though you may feel like you are talking to yourself.  Please note that you may get some strange looks as people will also think you are talking to yourself… but who cares!
  • The shopping may take a little longer than if you were by yourself, however you are spending quality time with your children, while checking off an errand on your large to do list.
    • As you pass other moms, with screaming babies and cranky toddlers, you will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing your children are happy and having a great time.
    • You will feel like you mastered motherhood today and will wear your Mommy Master title with honor.
    • You used to be the Mommy Disaster you just passed in the bread isle, and you may very well be her tomorrow, but for today, you can enjoy your moment of success.
  • It’s time for the cookie!  Check with your local market to see what they offer for kids.
    • You have saved the bakery area for last and it’s time to determine whether or not your children earned their treat.
      • Everyone listened, no one whined, there were no tears and no one begged for sugary treats, right?
      • Then someone pinched you and you woke up because clearly you were dreaming.
        • Let’s be real.  Kids will never be perfectly behaved and if another mom tells you otherwise about her children, she is probably lying.
        • Kids are kids and if you can get through the market with only one warning or cookie threat, or maybe two, you are doing pretty darn good! Cookies for everyone!
    • Let your children know how proud you are of them and how nice their behavior was.
      • Positive reinforcement will go a long way.
    • Aside from the cookie, my kids are on a point system this week so good behavior at the supermarket would also earn them a point at home.
      • You can incorporate any point system or chart you are using in your home.
    • If you don’t want to take advantage of the sweet treats, bring something from home that you know they will love, that you feel good about giving them.
  • Being creative as a parent will allow you to take situations that could otherwise be frustrating, and turn them into bonding time with your little ones.
    • You will feel good as a parent that you did not lose patience and were able to keep your kids under control in a public place.
    • You will be forming memories that will last a lifetime and when you look back twenty years from now, you can reminisce and smile at the fun you all had.

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How do YOU master food shopping with your little ones?  Share your fun shopping tips with Mommy Masters on Facebook.  We would love to hear your ideas!









[spoiler title=”Image Credit” open=”1″ style=”1″]Photo provided by and digital art.[/spoiler]