Photo for illustration purposes only.
Going to the grocery store with children can be stressful – both for the parent and the child/children. Fruits, vegetables, meat and other food stuff in the grocery store aren’t of interest to them. How many times have you seen a parent scolding his/her child, asking for them to behave? To stay put, not touch anything, not run, not open anything, not get lost?
While parents are too busy picking the best apples and checking their grocery list, it’s so easy to forget that children are getting bored and they need to do something with it.
Truth is, grocery shopping with children need not be a stressful activity. My family do the following to get our child involved and make grocery shopping a joy instead of a pain.
Before going to the grocery store:
1. Plan ahead – Planning saves a lot of wheeling the trolley in grocery alleys back and forth. Make a grocery list before you go so your shopping is time efficient, especially if you have little children in tow. If you are taking with you children old enough to read, write the grocery list in your best, legible handwriting.
2. Eat first – It’s not fun to take hungry children in any trips, even short runs to the grocery store. They will end up cranky and might even open a packet of food item when you turn your back on them. Hungry kid speed is estimated at a quarter of a second. You don’t want that to happen.
3. Have enough time – this is actually part of #1 Plan ahead. Don’t go to the grocery store with time pressure, especially if you have little kids with you.
When you arrive at the grocery store:
1. Give your list to your child – This advice applies if you have a child who can read. This is the reason why I said you should legibly write your grocery list. Let your child read it, give him/her a pencil to check off items you have put in your basket. It’s a great activity to make them busy.
2. Have them pick the produce themselves – Teach them how to tell a good apple from a bad one and let them pick to put into the basket. Granted that your child isn’t too young or sleepy or hungry, he/she will enjoy this activity. Mine does and goes on to pick the best oranges, bananas, etc.
3. Go introduce them to the fishes – You don’t have to do this every single time, though! Have a shark in the fish section? Point it to your little one. My daughter love pointing fishes and remembering what their names are, especially the shark (yes, there are sharks in the fish market here!)
Additionally, you can also teach them how to tell if a fish is fresh or not.
4. Let them pick the groceries they can carry – Together with reading and checking that grocery list, you can also let children pick up the groceries that are easy for them to carry. Sometimes, I even ask my daughter to see the price and tell her we should pick the cheaper ones, unless we need to stick to a particular brand.
5. All the way to the cashier – the grocery trolley resembles a treasure trove for children now, especially if they helped in gathering things and putting it inside. If they aren’t too tired, you can ask them to help with unloading the trolley and putting the things in cashier’s.
Giving children responsibilities, however small, will not only boost their self confidence with “Wow, I can read!” or “Mom trust me” or “I am a big girl/boy now” thoughts. It will also keep them from being bored and dread grocery shopping with you in the future. Of course when they are small, they won’t be able to do any of what I’ve mentioned above but as children get older, starting them with small responsibilities to take give them a sense of accomplisment which is important to build a strong and confident character. I see grocery shopping as an easy and fun opportunity to do that.
Lastly, don’t forget to give praise for whatever accomlishment they made. Happy shopping!