Finding Your Way Through Those Aisles With Those Kids

My Little Shopper, not to be confused with the weakest link....

My Little Shopper, not to be confused with the weakest link….


It’s Friday evening, and we’ve just dined, thankfully, and we are heading into the store to get some items for the following day. There are two families to feed, four tired kids, and myself whose had a couple of glasses of what the kids maturely refer to as Mommy’s “Chardo–HAY.” Somehow with the cute title it seems easier to digest, this idea that the kids know their mom likes a delicious intoxicant with her meal. 

What’s larger question here though, is how to get through the grocery store with kids and your sanity intact.  Just to give you some of the context to my situation–both my kids are sensitive to noise and smells and sounds and tastes. Which means the blaring lights, the chilly emissions, the colorful cans and the endless aisles filled with sugary treats don’t just test them, but put them slightly out of their heads. So my key to success, even success on the fly when I have to make an unanticipated stop, is to drop my standards a bit. I know they are going to be challenged, so I try and give them a win, something to hold on to, like the promise of a special treat. The promise can also be some power in decision making. During this excursion, I kept telling my 5 year old that I needed her help. “Should we have chicken tomorrow or steak? Do you think french fries, or rice?  This way she stayed with me, and focused. Anyway, here are some strategies that work for me. 

1. Don’t go when you kids are hungry. Do a check-in with them before you go inside. If they are hungry, you need to go in, buy a snack, and get out quick. Allow them to eat something before you expose them to all of those foods inside, preferably protein. 

2. If they are old enough, given them an errand or task to be completed with you. That way they are part of a team effort, and many kids (one of mind) enjoys jobs. 

3. Be prepared to compromise a little on purchases. Set yourself and them up for success by either letting the child pick an item at the beginning of the shopping trip, or at the end. Some people think the kid should “earn” the item, but my eldest child is anxious, and we get her item first thing and she tends to calm down. When she runs into something else she wants, I offer to exchange the item. It’s an added complication, but everyone feels successful.

4. Keep your visit under 30 minutes. This depends on the kids. My kids can’t take more than 30 minutes. If I expect them to, they fall apart, and I end up leaving a cart full of groceries for an unlucky employee to unpack and restock. Not fun. Makes you an unpopular shopper, too. 

5. Have an activity with you or a small toy kids can carry. I keep a yoyo in the car, a small hand-sized ball, a barbie doll and a My Little Pony item, like Rainbow Dash. My 5 year old is completely happy carrying her Rainbow Dash Doll around the store. So in the store, while we shop, we employ Rainbow Dash power. I know it’s sort of pathetic, but this is where my life is right  now. 

6. Helps to have a list. Duh. 

7. Go to familiar store. This is also kind of “Duh,” but I am setting my kids and myself up for failure when I think I am going to pop into an unfamiliar store and just get some bread, some bread I can’t find. 

8. Grin and bear it. Somedays the excursion to the store with the kids will be a disaster.  It’s not because you are a failure as a mother, it’s because Mercery (or something) goes into something called RETROGRADE, which means your kids act nuts, and your appliances break down, and your neighbor rips out your roses by mistake. 

9. Order groceries. When my kids were finishing school last spring. By late spring we were all a mess and I had to order groceries in for the last two weeks. The kids were too strung out to march around the store for long. 



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