Thursday, April 17, 2014

Braving The Grocery Store with Kids

Just thinking about taking my herd of five children, ages 18 months to nine years, to the grocery store makes me break out in a cold sweat. I feel my heart racing; anticipating the nightmare that is sure to occur. A three year olds tantrum; the constant begging for this or that; the near magnetic attraction that seems to exist between their little hands and products on the shelves, all fill me with fear!

If at all possible, I avoid these outings; planning grocery shopping and other appointments around times when my husband will be home to watch at least some of the children. As much as I try to schedule these errands around my husbands at home time, there will inevitably arrive a time when I am forced to drag all five of them to the store.

A trip to the local Super Walmart for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread can quickly turn into a three ring circus if you are not prepared (and in all honesty, it probably will still). Here is a list of what has worked for me:

1-Set your expectations BEFORE you get out of the car- Before any of my children are allowed out of the car I let them know what kind of behavior I expect and what the consequences will be if I do not get that behavior. If your children are younger, this may be difficult, but it is always good to set the standards before rather than making up the rules as you go along.

2-If you have a child small enough for the seat in the shopping cart-use it!- Make sure you use a cart with a child safety strap and never leave them unattended while in the cart. Many stores also provide cart handle wipes to help combat the germs that like to live on shopping carts. Having one child out from underneath your feet is definitely helpful. Our local Smiths (a chain in the Kroger family) has the children’s carts that have a car in front and two seats in the cart, so four of my children call all be seated at once! When I am on the fence about where I want to go for a few basic items, this is a big selling point.

3-Give older children a responsibility- Children want to feel needed and important. If they are given a responsibility (finding the bread or choosing the snack for their soccer game) they are more likely to behave.

4-If budget will allow, patronize stores that cater to families- There are many grocery stores that offer services that help busy families. Some go as far as offering child care. Harmon’s, a local Utah grocery store, is one of my favorites for family friendly service. In the bakery they never fail failed to offer cookies for my children. The deli is the same, offering samples of meats and cheeses. They also offer a drive and load service (at no additional cost), you simply leave your cart of bagged food at the front of the store and drive up to their covered loading lanes, and an associate will load your groceries right into the back of your car! Patronizing these stores not only helps save you time, but tells them that you appreciate their services.

5-Follow through with your threats- The biggest tip I can give you is to be consistent. If you threaten to take away a privilege if their behavior does not meet your expectations, you must follow through.

If you are consistent, your children will learn that you are serious about your expectations. With my three year old, I find that I need a more immediate consequence for bad behavior. When his behavior is unacceptable, we find an out of the way corner, right where we are, and use that as a time out spot. Because time-out is what he is used to at home for misbehavior, this works for our family.

Following these tips may not make for a peaceful trip to the grocery store, but you may just make it through without pulling out your hair!

- Christine

Posted by Christine of Random Thoughts With Chris

1 comment:

LuckyLola said...

These are great tips. I especially like the idea of giving older kids responsibilities.