I have joined a facebook couponing group. Someone recently asked "How do I go shopping with my toddler?" I almost laughed out loud! I have been shopping with children for almost 12 years. I took my 4 oldest to the store often. When they were small, I got one of those carts with a double seater attached, strapping the older ones into the seats and setting the 2 infant carriers across the basket. I had to remove one each time I put something into the cart! I even took them to the Commissary case lot sale!!! I have sometimes taken all 7 of my children to the store (although I try not to!)
Here are a few things I have learned that make shopping with young children a little smoother.
1. Give Yourself Lots of Time! This is a really big one. When you are in a rush, you are less patient so you get easily annoyed and irritated which makes your kids more irritated which makes you...you know, 'round and round it goes! I give myself plenty of time and try not to plan anything else on shopping days so I can take my time. It feels like a field trip instead of a chore.
2. Go Early: If you go early in the day the store is usually not crowded. This isn't just for your kids but you too. When the store is crowded there is a feeling that you might be in someone else's way. If the store is empty you can compare prices and take the kids to the bathroom without inconveniencing others.
3. Plan Ahead: Make a list. Go down the aisles in your head and make your list according to what it on each aisle. This helps you get through the store faster and avoid the areas that might cause trouble (like the candy aisle!) I like to put a star next to the items that I have coupons for so I know when to go to my coupons and when to skip it.
4. Pack A Bag: Bring your diaper bag (or purse) packed with a few simple items to entertain your kids. Some ideas might include a small snack, candy or gum, a few small toys like a car or small doll, a water bottle. I sometimes let my kids play with expired coupons so they feel like they are doing what I am doing. I save these items for later and I don't let them know I have them. I can usually get about half way through the store without going for the bag, sometimes longer!
5. Include Them: Ask them questions like "Which bananas should we get?" or "The hamburger's on sale. Should we get some?" "Can you believe there are so many varieties of barbecue sauce?"My daughter seems to think she is making some pretty important decisions! She reminds me to get things and really enjoys our trips.
6. Give Yourselves A Break: You have a TODDLER!!! There will be tears. There will be smiles. There will be stinky diapers 5 minutes after you change the wet one. There will be rude people who tell you to make some friends so you don't have to bring your kids in public (yes, someone actually said this to me!) Just let it go. Be gentle with yourselves.
Who cares if your child gets worn out by the time you reach the freezer section and cries for 10 minutes because you didn't get the right Popsicles! Who cares if he realizes that his voice echos and he screeches through the store, laughing every time you try to shush him? Does it really matter in the eternal scheme of things? If you get the food and the kids leave the store smiling, you can count the trip a success. What happens in Kroger, stays in Kroger!
What else has worked for you? What has been a miserable failure? Share your ideas!