Once upon a time I began giving our kids snacks in the store – a welcome and needed diversion, providing extra time and distraction. And, a more pleasant shopping experience for all.
The goal of the store snack is time.
Now, I’m not saying my kids are unruly or unmanageable without snacks. Most of the time, they are great. I can count on one hand times our kids have melted in the store – with or without snacks. They know how to behave. But when it comes to kids, even with the best laid plans, melt-downs do sometimes happen so we need to be prepared to deal with them with grace and move on.
Every child, even the most pleasant child, has a time limit. That limit may vary but could be caused by boredom, hunger, fatigue or some unexpected issue. Whatever the looming threat may be, we’re always on the melt-down clock when running errands.
For us, snacks keep the peace while warding off the real and serious problem of the hangries.
At first, the kids slowly ate and talked while we shopped. It was really quite lovely. Foods that take time to chew are first on the list: carrot sticks, snap peas, apple slices, etc.
These bags of healthy goodness were a win-win – they ate without complaint, and stayed happy longer. Generally, appetites for lunch weren’t ruined, and if they were it was OK – they got the good stuff in first.
For a while – it was almost foolproof.
Gone were the days of running through the store at break-neck speeds tossing things in the cart to get in and out before the melt-down clock ran out.
Our pace was just right. Leisurely, even.
I seemed like a brilliant solution. And maybe it was…
But the glory-days of snack shopping was limited to about one year. As the kids grew older, that shiny brilliance has faded.
It isn’t that snacks don’t work anymore. They do. But trips just aren’t leisurely anymore.
Snacks can be a slippery slope. If there’s one snack, why not another, and another?
We’re back on the clock – but now it’s the snack clock. Better get everything done before the snacks run out.
My now older children scarf down even the chewiest snack in 2.2 seconds. They don’t want to chat and eat, they just want the next snack. Fast. So they inhale them – I mean, do they even chew them? At dinner, the same foods would take FOR-EV-ER.
Bottomless pits, I tell you.
I delay the next snack by requiring that we find a garbage to get rid of our trash first. It’s kind of a game, but more so just a tool for getting a few minutes between snacks. You can find us easily, my kids are the ones shouting at the top of their lungs – mom, I see a garbage!
Hooray (note sarcasm)...now you can have more snacks.
It seems that the store snack solution has slowly made me into a real-life human vending machine. For the payment of quiet, happy children, I fork over snacks while I get my workout pushing a cart loaded with 3 children and all our stuff at record speed.
It’s a mad dash, but, generally still a pleasant one.
Now that the kids are older, snacks still include healthy veggies and fruit. To try and slow the bigger kids down, they get beef jerky, raisins, roasted chickpeas or sunflower seeds (no shell), and mini bagels. The chewier, the better.
As you may assume from that list, sometimes snacks become lunch. It isn’t ideal, but does work out well if you need to do a lot of errands in a row.
Plus, returning home and immediately plopping them in their rooms for a rest still feels somewhat shiny and brilliant. Unloading groceries in peace is a gift.
Don’t tell my kids, but I may also keep a bag Dum-Dums in my purse for emergencies (ahem – when snacks run out). IF the kids were good the whole trip, they just might get one.
I’m not above bribing them.
But one could argue that all store snacks are bribery – I prefer to use the word incentives.
Although snacks no longer provide a luxurious shopping experience, they are still effective in making our errands happier on a regular basis – and for that I’m grateful.
The human vending machine – yep, that’s me. Or perhaps more like the genie from Aladdin – Poof, what do you need?
Either way, I’m OK with it.
How do YOU feel about snacks in the store?