Timing is everything. You wouldn’t choose to clean the house five minutes before bed, so be mindful of making the kids do something taxing when they’re tired. Shop when they’re well-rested – soon after waking up after a nap is ideal – and avoid peak shopping times like lunch or straight after work when queues will be longer.
Patience levels are likely to be low so be realistic in terms of what you can achieve. Now is not the time to be testing new products or comparing the calories between brands; save those tasks for when you’ve got more time on your hands – and less little people with you. Just stick with the essentials; it’s best to shop little and often with kids.
Arriving at the supermarket and having a mental blank is not an option when you have kids in tow. Write a concise list before you leave the house and get them involved, too. Ask them to draw or write a pretend list so that they feel excited about your trip to the supermarket. If you sell it as an adventure, you’ll have their attention for longer.
It’s sensible to pre-agree on snacks before you go to manage expectations – and avoid your trolley being half-eaten by the time you get to the checkout! It also gives your control over how healthy the snack is. On the journey there, remind them that if they’re well behaved, they’ll be get their treat (OK, bribe) as a thank you.
If you’re not overly familiar with your local supermarket’s floor plan, you may want to do a child-free recce. Why? When shopping with kids, you only want to go down the aisles you actually need. You’ll save time and avoid extra temptation. Heads up: most everyday essentials are stocked on the outer aisles.
Kids will love the supermarket much more if it’s entertaining and engaging to them. Play a game of I Spy or Spot the… with younger children, while older children can be given special jobs such as searching for or counting out products. Anything that makes shopping a more exciting and sensory experience will keep boredom at bay for longer.
Make use of the specially-designed toddler and baby seats in trolleys. They’ll keep kids safe, in one place and out of reach of shelves – because there’s nothing more fun than pulling products off of them! Bigger kids who are too grown-up for the trolley can be charged with looking after the trolley money. Just take a spare $2 in case it goes walkabout.