A Parent's Guide to Grocery Shopping With Multiple Kids


While we'd all prefer a luxurious trip to Target sans children (besides, it's hard to hear Target tell us what we need above our children whining), that's not always an option. Sometimes, groceries must be bought during daylight hours, with children in tow. With my almost five-year-old twins, a trip to the store can mean an hour of silly chaos or dragging them in kicking and screaming. In either case or if your trips fall somewhere in between, it helps to have some tips along the way.

Snack up.
Who among us hasn't snatched and subsequently cracked open a box of Goldfish in the snack aisle to appease a hangry toddler? We try to avoid that scenario by snacking before, and sometimes during, the grocery trip. It's never a good idea for you to shop hungry, and that goes double for the little people in your life.

Choose wisely.
Those double carts are lifesavers. So are grocery stores that offer samples. And mini carts? I don't even have to push! Costco, Central Market and Trader Joe's are our favorites for those reasons (and more). 

Take turns.
We talk a lot about fairness in our family. Mostly how life's not fair but that's beside the point. We alternate with every item, as each Very Important Helper gets their turn to add something to the cart until it's full and the list is complete.

Talk about it.
Each item you put into your cart is an opportunity to discuss a favorite recipe, plan the week's menu or even talk about where it came from. Create mini teachable moments out of the mundane. After all, that's how kids learn about the world around them.

State your purpose.
In advance of our trip, I tell the twins what we're going for and what we're not. "No candy, just dinner." Or, "let's pick out three items for your school lunches." Oftentimes, I let them choose a dessert for after dinner if they've been agreeable. The idea is to set expectations ahead of time so they're (hopefully) not shocked when I say they can't have a bag of M&Ms in the checkout aisle.

Play a game.
Try the quiet game, I-Spy for letters, colors or vegetables or who can be the best helper. If all goes well, everybody wins. 

Turn the tables.
Sometimes I hand over the grocery list and tell the twins I'm their helper. That way, they can direct me toward everything we need and boss someone else around besides each other for once. I'm happy to become the assistant if it means getting the list checked off painlessly. 

Bring it on home.
Keep the kiddos involved all the way home by asking that they help unload the car and unpack the groceries (assuming they're old enough to do so). Then, get their help to cook dinner. It may take a little longer to have "help" from the little folks, but bringing the grocery shopping full circle helps them understand why you go in the first place.

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