Survival Guide to Shopping with Children

Survival Guide to Shopping with Children

{Survival Guide to Shopping with Children: Surviving the grocery store other places kids have no interest in being }

One of Us Might Walk Out in Tears

As the mother of a lively, high energy little boy, a simple trip to the store can easily turn into a hair-pulling, talking with your teeth clenched, parental nightmare. Sometimes, I think his little body has more energy than it knows what to do with (I’m envious). Whether he’s talking to strangers or crawling on all fours down the aisle, he turns the inside of supermarkets and retailers into a psychological battlefield of wits and patience.

meanest mom ever

I’m the Meanest Mom Ever

Wedding season is upon us and I had to go dress shopping the other day, WITH RYAN. Oh, Lordy. My mantra going in was “See it, grab it, buy it, try it on at home.” When he stepped out of the car with glow sticks shoved into his sandal, I knew it was going to an interesting trip. It wasn’t a battle I was going to fight; I had to save my energy for the ones ahead:

- Please don’t run down the aisle

- Please stand up and stop sliding across the floor. You can be a slug somewhere else.

- There was a little boy in here just last week that was hiding in the clothing racks… they’re still looking for him.

- You don’t want those gummy worms, they’re… onion flavored… yeah, they’re horrible.

- That’s a pair of women’s underwear, put it back.

- I promise, it’s not the women’s restroom, it’s the family restroom


A dress and two shirts later, we were walking to the car with him professing I was the meanest mom ever (I wouldn’t buy him the “onion” flavored gummy worms). Most trips, he’s a fantastic, good spirited little helper. This was not one of them. Our success rate at the store depends on a few tricks I’ve learned over the past several years:

Supermarket Survival Guide

Before you get there…

Explain: Where are we going and why? I always psych Ryan up before we go to the store so he knows what he’s getting into. I’m not above stretching the truth for the good family kind. “Mommy needs to get laundry detergent or else we’re not going to have any clean clothes and we’ll all have to walk around naked.” It’s a good time to let him know what I expect from him as well.

Prep & Pack: Use the bathroom, pack your magical bag of mom goodies and get ready to hit the road. He’s not a baby anymore, but that doesn’t mean your purse is anything more than a glorified diaper bag; snacks, a few small toys, crayons, papers, book, etc.

In-Store Strategy

Grab & Go: We all love a little retail therapy now and then, but let’s not kid ourselves, now is not the time! Think of your child like a ticking time bomb (some with shorter fuzes than others).

Keep them Involved and Interested: If he were left to his own devices he’d be crawling around under clothing racks, popping out and scaring unsuspecting little old ladies. This is the time I get my list out and have Ryan help me. I’ve learned to try to focus his energy on “I’m looking for acrylic paint, do you see the art supply section?”

Turn It Into A Game: When all else fails, pull out the big guns: songs and games. I’m not above signing Bingo in the WalMart parking lot or playing I-Spy through the isles of Giant Eagle.


The Grand Finale: Darn you product placement specialists. No woman or child is spared from the array of useless knick-knacks and mouth watering, sugar packed goodies placed ever so cleverly at eye level of the little guys. I usually give Ryan something special to hold on to or give him a list of items  to unload at the checkout.

I Learned it from My Mother: Plan-B. You’re almost home free… then he starts playing Supermarket Sweep.

supermarket sweep

Can I get this?” (over and OVER and OVER AGAIN)


Then, when he’s not looking, I politely whisper to the cashier, “We’re not going to get this, thanks.” Don’t worry, I’m not applying for any mom of the year awards ;)

Lower Your Expectations

“The key to happiness is low expectations.” They’re little. Going to stores can be overstimulating, overwhelming experience; the people, the noises, the aisles, etc. Chances are, they’re not going to behave like small adults. They’re going to ask questions, pick things up, touch things, and explore the surroundings (unless they’re sedated). Don’t expect them to be anything more than little kids (on their best behavior).


Leave a reply

Required fields are marked (*)

CommentLuv badge