The Busy Parents Shopping Guide
Shopping with children of all ages can be a joy, if you plan ahead.
Whether it is for grocery shopping, clothes shopping or a trip to the mall, bringing the children along can be either a massive headache or a memorable teaching time. Try some innovative ways to engage young boys and girls in the whole process.
First of all, plan your trip during a “good” time of day, which means when the kiddos are not tired or hungry. And shop at down times if possible, during the morning hours or on weeknights after work. One new Kansas City mom says, “When shopping with my new baby boy, I plan my trip during his naptime and wear my pouch sling. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, sewn into a closed loop. I wear it around my body, from shoulder to hip, and he sleeps in it right next to my body. My hands are free to shop, while he stays warm and snug.”
Older children will enjoy the trip if you include reading skills and math skills in the outing. For example, write out a kids’ shopping list, with photos or drawings of things they can look for. If they can read, they can cross off the items as they are placed in the cart. Have them count items in the cart to make sure everything purchased matches their list. Even have them compare prices. For example, should you buy the 16-oz. box of Fruit Loops cereal priced at $6.00 or the 10-oz. box of Frosted Flakes for $3.99?
Another fun way to add to your trip is by setting your watch or cell phone to go off at a specific time, say 30 to 40 minutes, then tell the kids you must finish the shopping when the alarm buzzes. Be sure to show them how the time ticks by.
Colors are a favorite, and they are in abundance in any store. What is red and tastes sweet? What is green that your little brother hates? What is brown that we mash and serve with gravy? What is yellow on the outside and white on the inside? You get the idea. Keep a running stream of fun questions going and challenge their little brains.
When you are checking out, have your little ones organize the items on the conveyor belt by color, size, shape, fruits and vegetables, canned goods, liquids, etc.
Pack a snack your children don’t normally eat every day, which could include animal crackers, different flavored goldfish crackers, fruit slices or a new juice box. Your children will look forward to the surprising new flavors they get to try on shopping day.
If you feel too overwhelmed after a hard day at work or your children are particularly restless, shop online. Many grocery stores offer online shopping, with delivery or drive-by pickup options. And, of course, many of us already buy clothing and other items online, avoiding crowds and lost children in department stores.
One local long-time preschool teacher knows the moods and personalities of little children can vary, so she advises, “Be patient. Be loving. Be understanding. The time your children are young flies, and someday you’ll actually miss that little hand holding the sippy cup in your grocery cart!”
Hot Tip! Scavenger Shop
Turn your grocery list into a fun scavenger hunt for your children. Assign each child a specific item to find, such as a gallon of milk, bananas, a loaf of bread or a dozen eggs. This will include them in the shopping trip and make your life easier!
Want to make a food bingo card to use at the store? Simply draw squares on a card or piece of paper, then cut out photos of items, such as apples, oranges, cereal, green beans, milk, orange juice, bread, cookies, cheese, hamburger, etc. Anything you typically shop for. You also can find bingo cards online for ideas or to download. Bring along some stickers and have your children place a sticker on each item on their card as they find it or as you place it in the cart. Whoever bingos first wins a prize! This game keeps kids’ attention focused and helps you shop with ease.
An avid outdoors girl, Judy Goppert live in Lee’s Summit and enjoys all seasons, especially summer. She enjoys drawing on her personal experiences to write about the nuances of everything wonderful about life.