Grocery Store Olympics

6 Oct

I had 3 babies in 4 years.  Going to the grocery store with 3 children is an olympic event.  There are so many dynamics involved, such as timing, sleep patterns (not mine! I sure wans’t getting much at the time!), and preschool schedules.  My children are out of their toddler years, but I see so many families at the grocery store struggling.

I didn’t seem to have trouble in the store.  But I planned…extensively!  I always had (and still do) a grocery list going in the kitchen.  A grocery list in my house is a living breathing document.  The list moved and changed moment by moment.  A trip to the grocery store was an event, and we planned for it.

Besides the list, I made sure everyone was well rested and well fed.  I talked to my children about going to the store and what kind of conduct I expected out of them.  I also outlined consequences for bad behavior.  For example, I would tell the children that we were going to the store and that they were not allowed to ask for any treats on this particular visit.  If they did not behave, the consequence might be that they would not be allowed to watch a movie with the rest of us that afternoon.

I also gave my children a list to use at the store.   My children did not have to be able to read the items on the list, and having something in their hand was a good distraction.  I usually wrote two to three items in magic marker on an index card.  An index card might say “MILK   APPLES   YOGURT” .  In the store, I would read the items to my children several times while pointing to the word,  and encouraged the “I spy” game for the items.  My children enjoyed looking for their items and were very excited when they had success.  This technique worked well for many years.

I made every effort to avoid taking my children to the store in the evening or right before a meal.  To me, that was just asking for trouble, and having three wee ones was hard enough!  Why add to the chaos by going into an extremely stimulating environment with a tired group of children?  Most often, we grocery shopped in the morning.  Sometimes we even went on a weekend morning very early.

My children are all now teenagers, and our grocery list is still a mainstay in our kitchen.  For many years I have  encouraged my children to actively participate in making the list.  Certain parts of household responsibility must lie with with children.  Now if they run out of their  favorite shampoo, a major drama for any teenager, it isn’t my fault!


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