Yes, this month we are looking at how to make grocery shopping easier, and I’m actually spending the week encouraging you to take your kids with you! I’m not crazy! You can do it! It can still be simple and easy, even with the kids. In fact, it is because your grocery routine is simplified that you will have enough mental space left to track the kids as well as the list.
Yesterday: Reasons to take your kids grocery shopping
Grocery Shopping Tip: Give the kids a pep talk before leaving the car.
One reason taking the kids grocery shopping can get frustrating – both for mom and for the kids – is unspoken, unknown expectations on both sides. Mom has her vision of what well-behaved children do and do not do that she thinks, from her lifetime of experience, is quite obvious. The children, placed in this new, overstimulating environment of vast sugar-filled food items, loses himself and doesn’t even realize anything outside himself exists. Probably the children consider their mother rude to be always quashing their zeal on this adventure which seems so full of potential.
I would say that above all else, the tactic that has had the most benefit for few (not zero) grocery-store melt-downs is that I try to remember to give them a prep and pep talk before we leave the vehicle. We go over the ground rules and expectations:
- Stay by mom. Do not touch things we are not going to buy. I will ask you to help me get things, but do not touch anything else.
- Keep your eyes open for other people and try not to obstruct traffic.
- Do not ask for things. We are buying what’s on the list, and nothing else (this doesn’t work as well after they can read and realize that you’re making exceptions for sale items).
- You can pick a piece of candy from the bulk area when we’re there, but you can’t eat it until after we pay for it, and you don’t get it if you disobey in the store. It’s a treat for helpers.
- I need helpers at the store. Can you be my helpers today?
Then, I am simply armed with the expressions that have become second-nature: Don’t touch what we aren’t buying. Oops, move out of the way. Stay by me, please. Repeat, repeat kindly, repeat, and enforce – don’t let them ignore you (this means that you also can’t ignore them or what you’re saying, which is kinda inconvenient, I know, but the reality of being the mom).
When they point out things they’d like or do ask for something, I often respond with something like “Oh, that does look interesting, doesn’t it?” or “Maybe you can choose that for your birthday meal.” or “Oh, yes, maybe we can get that as a special vacation treat sometime.” or “I bet that would be good, but we aren’t going to get that now.” Then, of course, they say in a whiny voice, “But, when?” and I say, “Oh, probably never. It won’t actually taste as good as it looks. It’s not actually good food.” (that is, assuming that they’re pointing out some highly processed, highly marketed food product).
Decide what your ground rules are for your kids at the store. Decide what jobs they can do that actually are helpful or at least make them feel so (more on that tomorrow). Find a way to say that simply and clearly. Say it simply and clearly before the temptation to whine and demand and fuss comes, and get them on board and on your team rather than kids against mom. Then, be prepared to repeat your reminders as you go about, though it seems like 100 times should be enough already.
Letting your kids know what is expected of them before the heat of the moment makes them crazy is the #1 tip for taking children out in public, period.
Tomorrow: Jobs for Kids at the Grocery Store
[category: tips | tags: grocery-shopping]
Mystie Winckler began menu planning at 11 years old when her mom delegated one dinner a week to her. Marrying at 19, she’s had a lot of practice over the years. But between growing and homeschooling her family, meal planning often requires brain power that just isn’t there any more. Simplified Dinners is her solution to take the effort and thought out of healthy, frugal cooking. And now it is available for you, too!
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