4 Tips to Make Shopping with Your Child a Breeze
How often do your go shopping with your child? I bet it happens multiple times a week. And let me ask you this: Are the shopping trips enjoyable? If your answer is NO, I have some easy to follow tips for you.
I often have either one or both of my sons in tow when I shop. So does that mean that all my shopping trips are dreadful and filled with tears and fights? Absolutely not. In fact, in my son’s 3 year existence, I can count on one hand the number of shopping trips that ensued in tantrums or tears. And yet when I talk to other moms, it seems that shopping is often a dreaded and painful experience for them. So I started to think back about what helped my shopping go smoothly with my children and I came up with a few tips and tricks.
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1. Go shopping with your child when they are a baby
I remember the first shopping trip we took with my son in tow. He was a tiny human no more than a week old when he first graced a store with his presence. We made sure to time it right and he slept through the whole trip. Peace and quiet. Ahhhh!!! I think he slept through most shopping trips in his infancy. But because I started taking him with me early, it just became part of a routine for both him and me to go shopping a few times a week.
2. Timing is everything
When you take your child on a shopping trip, timing is everything. As I said before, my son slept through most of his shopping trips when he was a baby. I breastfed him and made sure to time my shopping trips between his feeds. Feeding while shopping was not on my to do list, so I knew exactly how much time I had before he got hungry again. I would usually finish a feed, get dressed quickly and race out to the store. It often meant that my shopping trip was not leisurely and limited to 2 stores at most. I may have felt pressed for time but at least my shopping was in silence.
As he got older and spent more time awake, I alternated between taking him to stores during nap and awake time. If he was awake, I would wear him in a carrier and go about my shopping. He enjoyed people watching and rarely complained. But I still made sure to time my trips to not hit his feeding time. Nothing worse than a hangry baby. I followed the same principle as he got older. Shopping only done after he had a good meal and wasn’t too close to nap or bed time. Tantrums due to tiredness or hunger, avoided.
3. Teach good shopping habits
So once you address the timing of your shopping, the next thing to tackle is whining. We’ve all been in a store where a child is whining or throwing a tantrum because they want something that a parent won’t get for them. It may be a toy or a food item but the underlying problem is the same: They want it and they want it NOW!!!! Usually one of two things happen, the parent either gets it for them to shut them up or they go about their shopping with a screaming child and vowing to only ever shop again at midnight without said child.
But what if you can actually avoid these tantrums? Would that make your shopping experience more pleasurable? It would for me. Teaching boundaries and setting the right expectations will ensure that shopping trips go smoothly and without whining.
First, from and early age set the expectation that demanding an item will not result in the item being bought. Teach the child that they are allowed to calmly ask for the item and then have to deal with a NO if you are not intending on purchasing it. Even if you think your child may not fully comprehend why they can’t have the item, still spend time explaining to them why the item was not purchased. It’s worth the time investment. Second, do not buy a treat for a child every time you go shopping. Not only does that diminish the value of a treat but it brings on an expectation that something special will be bought every time. And then the one time you don’t buy something special, all hell will break loose.
4. Make shopping with your child fun
I know when you dread doing an activity with your kid, it’s easy to rely on technology for distraction. Just stick a phone or pad in their hands and let them play. And then you can quickly go about your business. But by doing that, you are robbing your child of an experience. And shopping is always an experience. So make it fun.
Whenever I shopped with my son when he was awake, I would always talk to him. I would name the things we were buying, I would show them to him, I would sing songs or talk in a baby voice.. And so it became fun for him. He shopped with me multiple times a week and it became a fairly routine but fun event. As he got older, he became more involved in the shopping process. He asks me about the items we buy, he asks to buy certain things, he even gets to shop himself in stores that have kid sized carts. It’s super fun for him. The best part is when he picks out flowers for me. Swoon.
Bonus Tip for the Pandemic: Make Shopping Safe
Right now, we’re still in the grips of a pandemic. And while some of us are able to make trips without our children in tow, not all of us are. So it’s even more important now than ever to make sure that your child is safe in the shopping cart. We have been using this Claro Baby Shopping Cover (if you’re interested, read my honest review here) and it’s been a great help in keeping some of the germs away. Find a mask that your child agrees to wear, wipe down the cart one more time before putting your child inside (I use alcohol prep pads because they are super portable and have a higher concentration of alcohol than any disinfectant wipes), and talk to your child about not touching things unnecessarily. It may not be perfect, but we all need to survive in these difficult times.
Here are my Amazon Picks for masks and portable disinfectants:
I hope my tips can make your life easier. We already have so much stress in our lives that shopping with our children should not add to it. Now onto my next grocery trip!!!!