Today is a guest post from Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum. She writes and speaks about love and marriage from a Christian perspective in a very practical yet fun (and entertaining!) way, so just a heads up when you check out her site – it’s SO addicting! I spent a whole afternoon reading!
It’s the task you’ve been dreading all week.
You’ve got a bunch of kids in the minivan, a grocery list that’s a mile long, and you wonder if you’ll manage to get in and out of the store without someone screaming or throwing something.
Grocery shopping with kids can be an ordeal. But maybe we just need to think about it differently!
After all, if you consider grocery shopping from a child’s point of view, it’s pretty boring. They’re stuck in a grocery cart and can’t move very much. There’s nothing to do. They’re surrounded by food they can’t eat. And so they get bored and grumpy and start acting out.
What’s the solution?
Keep kids engaged, and they just may find that grocery shopping can be fun! And by keeping kids engaged, you make it go faster for you, too.
My first line of attack when grocery shopping was to grab a banana or a dried fruit snack for each child and head to the express check out line. Then the kids would have something to eat while we shopped to stop the natural “gimme gimmes” that would start when surrounded by so much food. I’d stick the receipt in my pocket in case a staff member questioned me. (Bringing food from home is a bad idea; the staff may not believe that you didn’t pick it up there).
The rest of the plan is age-based. Here’s what to do to engage kids while grocery shopping:
Make Grocery Shopping with Kids More Fun For Everyone (Even You)
Engaging Babies: Keep Talking!
No matter what you’re doing, keep up a running commentary. “Mommy’s choosing grapes. See the grapes? Yummy!” All through the store, talk and make eye contact.
Babies may not understand what you’re saying, but they know you’re talking to them. Sure, shoppers may look at you strangely, but your baby knows you care.
Engaging Toddlers: Play the Color Game
As you walk through the aisles, ask your kids to find things that are certain colors. What’s orange? Oranges are orange! Peppers are orange! The container of sherbet is orange!
Take it one step further and count how many things are orange, so they learn numbers, too. You can even assign one child orange and one child green, and see who gets more items by the end of the trip.
Engaging Preschoolers: Play the Letter Game
After colors and numbers you can graduate to letters. How many groceries can we find that begin with the letter “P”? Peppers! Pineapple! Popcorn!
Ask them to scan the shelves for things starting with the “P” sound, even if you’re not buying it. You can even pick up a loaf of bread and ask them, “Does this begin with P?”, because B and P are awfully close.
And then all the way home, ask them to scan for things starting with P.
Next time out: graduate to D, or M, or O.
Engaging Elementary School Kids: Name Food Groups and Play Math
Move on to more challenging puzzles. You can identify food groups–is this a vegetable or dairy? And you can even teach them to be wise shoppers – is this a whole food? Is this a “yes” food or a “no” food?
If your kids are picky eaters, this can help with that problem, too, because you can have them choose some “yes” foods that are healthy that they’ll also agree to eat. If they get to choose, they’re more likely to eat it.
Then bring math into the picture. How much do you think our grocery bill will be? As you shop, round everything to the nearest dollar and have them keep track. You’ll have to guess at things you pay for by weight.
As they get older, round to the nearest fifty cents. This helps them learn to add numbers in their head, but it also helps them understand which groceries are expensive, and which ones are relatively cheap.
Once kids reach 9 or 10 you can even send them for some groceries on their own (or in pairs). Assign two children to go and get the milk and bring it back to you.
Engaging Kids While Grocery Shopping Works!
Usually when small children are screaming in the grocery store, they’re simply bored. And often we moms are so focused on getting through this awful task as quickly as possible that we tend to bark orders or even yell at our kids–“sit still!” “No, we can’t buy that!” “Don’t touch your sister!” You’re exhausted, the kids are frustrated, and everyone hates grocery shopping.
But if you try one of these techniques, you’ll likely find kids get far less bored–and they’ll learn a lot in the process, too.
Best of all, by the time they’re teenagers they will have been paying attention so much to what foods you were buying and why you chose certain things over others that you’ll be able to send them to do the shopping for you. So put in the work now–and everyone will benefit.
What tips do you have for keeping kids entertained at the grocery store?
Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of seven books, including To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother. She blogs every day at ToLoveHonorandVacuum.com, talking about parenting, marriage, and even sex!
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