I love going to the store with all three children.
While some may love shopping with a pack of squirming, squealing and wandering children, I prefer to go alone.
As a stay-at-home mom of three, the likelihood of solo-shopping glory is slim. Especially in the summer when school is out.
While my husband is happy to stay home while I go alone in the evening or on the weekend, I’d rather shop during the week so we can spend those precious hours together.
We do our best to make shopping with three kids as painless as possible for them, and for me.
How to stay sane while grocery shopping with three kids
- Plan Ahead – Gone are the days of wandering aisles waiting to be inspired for this week’s meals. Shopping with children requires planning and a detailed list. If possible, rearrange the list in the order each item is found in store aisles – dairy and meat, pantry staples, paper goods and produce.
- Limit Stores – List in hand, you should have a pretty good idea which stores you need to visit. When possible, choose the store that carries MOST of your items. For me, it may mean shopping where I’d rather not in order to get home faster with my sanity in tact.
- Timing is Everything – Kids who are tired, hungry, or missing out on playtime may be in the mood for an unpleasant trip. I like to run errands just after breakfast. Morning is when our kids and I are most likely to be at our best. Kids aren’t outside playing yet, and everyone is fed and well rested.
- Bathroom First – Never, ever leave home without making ALL children, even the oldest, use the bathroom. Emergencies aside, on most tripsthis will save you from the mad dash across the store hoping no one pees before you find the bathroom.
- Enlist Help – Who in your life is easy-going and genuinely wants to spend time with you and be helpful? Have someone in mind? Good. Ask them to shop with you. My mom has accompanied us on many shopping trips. She pushes an extra cart and keeps the troops in line. Have an older child? They are your built-in help. Assure them that their help will make the trip quicker so they can get on to whatever they would rather be doing.
- Incentives – This is your backup plan. Some may call it bribery, I like to call it incentives. What motivates your kids? A fun activity? A shorter rest? Including them in meal planning and preparation? Snacks? Whatever helps them make it through the trip – DO IT – for all of you. Watch out so the habit of snacks doesn’t turn you into a human vending machine, but do not leave home without a backup plan.
- Not On The List, Not In the Cart – This takes discipline. Resist the urge to grab that item not on the list. It will save you money and keep the trip short. Plus, if you follow the list, you can use this rule to ward off all purchase requests from the kids. Sorry, not on the list.
- Use the Big Cart – Those giant carts with two seats in front are actually easier to push than you think, even when loaded with three kids. When we need to be quick, I still make our almost 7-year-old ride in the big cart. If the kids CAN fit, make them ride. Now you are free to walk as quickly as you can without running some poor soul over. Get IN and get OUT.
- Cut Your Losses – When everything that could go wrong does go wrong, be willing to leave the store and full cart behind. Promise your kids they will have to come back to do the entire shopping trip again and follow through. If you do, hopefully you won’t ever have to do that again.
- Take Care of YOU – Start the day right. A few moments alone with your God, Bible, and coffee will help you be your best all day long. Oh mama, I know how difficult it can be to fit this time in during a kid-busy morning. Have you considered waking up before your kids? Even 15 minutes can be a game changer. Trust me, you will not regret it or miss the sleep.
When the trip is done, and you’ve all survived, find a coffee-drive thru and treat yourself for a job well done.
Happy shopping friends!