Grocery shopping is one of those things that just has to be done. We cant put it off just because the kids are awkward. We still need to eat. The key to stress-free shopping with kids is time and plenty of it. How long would it normally take you to do the weekly shopping? OK. Double it. If youre short of time then try and make some elsewhere. If you try to rush the big weekly shop youll get stressed, the kids will get stressed and youll think the world and his wife is staring at you.
OK so how do you make time? Well, why not combine the shopping with a meal out? Youll save time on food preparation and washing up and it doesnt need to be expensive. Most large stores will serve food these days fairly cheaply. The added bonus of doing it this way is that the kids think its fun. Children always think eating out is fun. You might not but theyll enjoy it.
Preparation is the next most important item on the list. Remember that children wont cry to deliberately annoy you until they reach 15-18 months old. Any younger than that and theres usually a reason. Make sure you have a small drink and snacks. Raisins are great because they take ages to get out the packet with little fingers. You can play games with older children and ask for their help with little items. Never try and shop if your child is likely to be hungry or thirsty and try to do it when theyre least likely to be bored. This is another good reason to combine the shop with a meal as your kids will have eaten and had a drink and I find they can be interested for a while after lunch. The only problem is you will need to be prepared to leave your trolley and find a toilet for the older toddler round about aisle 5 (and 9 - and immediately once youve just unloaded the trolley!)
Finally theres nothing wrong with a bit of bribery once in a while. If youre shopping in the morning or mid-afternoon then perhaps you could offer to go for a milkshake and biscuit if theyre good. If youre shopping after lunch then maybe put a small ice-lolly in the trolley for afterwards.
So to re-cap you need time (the less time you have the more stressed you will be), to be prepared (finding your child has a dirty nappy just as you get to the store and then remembering that you left the supplies in the house is really annoying – trust me), a little treat (not essential but always useful) and a lot of patience (always). Enjoy!