How to survive shopping with small children

For most parents, shopping with small children is a necessary part of life. Learn how to be prepared for the inevitable and embarrassing tantrum, as well as be effective in your shopping plans.

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  • How to Have a Successful Shopping Trip with More Than One Child

  • First off, bless you in this endeavor. Secondly, let’s define “successful.” As far as I am concerned, a shopping trip with more than one child is successful when: (1) you don’t lose a child/children (at least for very long), (2) your child does not “accidentally” shoplift items that you now have to return inside the store after you have just finished packing an entire week’s worth of groceries into the trunk and buckled all three car seats – lessons on honesty can be so inconvenient, and (3) there are no “end cap display” emergencies, as in the entire display plummeting to the ground because your “helpers” were helping. *As a side note, single items that fall from shelves (and even break) should merely be deemed as an unfortunate occurrence and not absolute failure. In my book, even in this instance, you can still earn the “successful shopping trip” honor badge.

  • Here are some survival tips:

  • Be prepared

  • Keep gum/snacks/small toys hidden in your purse to aid with unforeseen emergencies in public. Expect that your little ones are going to be finished shopping before you are.

  • Be organized

  • Have a basic floor plan in mind and then create a written list of needed items accordingly. Nothing is worse than getting to the front of the store only to realize that you forgot the eggs at the rear of the store and passed by the peanut butter two aisles back. Also, stick to your list. Research has shown that 40% of consumer spending isn’t planned!

  • Need for speed

  • Now that you're prepared andorganized, get what you need and get out. Don’t tempt the fate of naptime and tantrums because you were lingering on the craft aisle too long.

  • Make your children part of the experience

  • Depending on the age of the child/children, let them help get the items that you need. I speak from experience when I say that children should not retrieve salsa in glass bottles or heavy, cumbersome gallons of milk—no matter how strong they say they are. Also, do not, under any circumstances, let your children talk you into getting more than one cart. Regret and achilles pain will surely be in your future.

  • Distraction

  • “Do you see the grapes?” “Can you find something yellow on this aisle?” You must use caution in this situation, however. After asking my 4-year-old to look for broccoli, a poised older gentleman looked disgustedly at me and said, “You know, your daughter has been licking those broccoli heads, you really should purchase them.” Thank you, sir. It takes a village. We ate a lot of broccoli that week. A lot.

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  • Naptime is sacred

  • Don’t do it. Don’t try to get that “last errand” done right before your child’s nap. You will inevitably get stuck in the longest line behind the lady from “Extreme Couponing” and her three carts of toothpaste and Fruit Loops. None of these techniques can withstand the fury of the exhausted toddler. Really, it just isn’t worth it.

  • Reward good behavior

  • . Say what you will about this tactic, but it can be a highly effective tool. Understand the

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Heidi Dunkley is the mother of six children and can be found driving to swim/football/basketball practice in the afternoons, doing laundry in the mornings, and ninja-like freelance writing late into the night. 

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