As a mom of four, grocery shopping with kids ages 9, 7, 6 and 22-months is about as much fun as having a root canal (no offense dentists). Getting to the store is an accomplishment in itself.
Yes, I pray for a parking spot near the entrance. With car parked, I’m cautiously optimistic this will be an uneventful trip. The big kids unbuckle, trample over one another getting out of the car and before they do, I remind them, “ladies first, stay near the car, we are in a parking lot and best behavior." After nine years, one would think this would become a learned behavior. It’s about progress, not perfection.
Babe, big kids, and reusable totes. We successfully navigate the parking lot and prepare for the next challenge, buckle my toddler into the cart before a complete meltdown happens and glaring looks from customers begin. Failure? Not today. Failure is simply one’s inability to recognize an accomplishment (like getting four children into the store).
If your blood pressure isn’t bubbling yet, just wait, most parents shopping with their little ones inhibit an underlying feeling that at any moment in time, the situation will implode and the wheels will fall off. How we handle stressful situations effects our own health, and also influences how our children will learn to respond to stressful situations.
Ready to hit the panic button? Don’t. There is no need to seek professional help or blood pressure medication just yet. Try any or all of these suggestions on your next outing to avoid failure and have fun with your kids:
- Speak your mind. Let you kids know what you expect from them. Stay near. Oldest to youngest goes first. Ask intelligent questions. No arguing. Hands to yourself.
- Take deep breaths. Breathing deeply helps calm your nerves, relieves anxiety and minimizes over reacting to situations. Your kids will start practicing this too!
- Understand your toddler. I would have a temper tantrum too if I could! Children have temper tantrums. It happens. Do your best to distract your child from what he/she wants and get him/her to focus on something else.
- Have teachable moments. Your kids can write the shopping list. Count apples with your toddler. Big kids can multiply and bag groceries. It might take a little more time to navigate the store, but it’s worth it.
- Keep it short! Your list should have 15-20 items. Why? You might go to the store more, but you will be less likely to waste, overspend and more likely to have happy shoppers.
- Ask for help. At the butcher counter, “may we please have…?” In the aisle, “excuse me, can you please tell me where we may find…?” Demonstrating and interacting in polite conversation positively influences your child.
- Stick to the list! Showing your children how to stick to a list teaches lifelong skills. If you buy more, talk about it with your kids, ask if it is really a need or a want and collectively decide if it’s the right purchase for your family.
- It costs how much? It’s never too early to start talking about living expenses and the value of a dollar!
- Be positive. Compliment your child when he/she helps push or unload the cart.
- Reward your kids. We earn gas rewards, Starbucks rewards and frequent flyer miles. Your kids deserve a reward for a job well done!
Feel less anxious about your next outing? You should! Relax, breathe deeply and remember, a trip to the store can be fun, conversational, and accomplished.
More Information: University Park mom of four, Niccole Maurici is co-founder of StrongestMom.com. StrongestMom.com is dedicated to making moms the strongest they can be, both mentally and physically. The Strongestmom.com™ staff researches issues important to moms and publishes unbiased research summaries at strongestmom.com. We also produce fitness videos that are designed to help moms stay physically fit while keeping to their busy schedules. For more information on finances, happiness, fitness, and parenting, visit www.strongestmom.com.