This is a guest blog post by Aviva Goldfarb, founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble
Recently I was at the supermarket without my kids on a weekday morning. I had a long list and was flying through the aisles pretty swiftly. As I rounded the aisle, my cart came to a screeching halt in front of a frazzled looking woman with two young children who were clearly not making this shopping trip a pleasure for their mom. It was only ten in the morning but this poor woman had clearly had it for the day. Seeing her brought back some pretty dark memories of when taking Solomon and Celia to the grocery store could be more exhausting than taking a three-mile run in the heat and humidity of Washington, D.C. in July.
While most of us want seize opportunities to relax and hang out at home with our kids when we can, we are also faced with the reality that we still need to get certain things done to keep our lives running smoothly. One of those things is grocery shopping. I know many parents who, when possible, choose to do the shopping when their kids are in school or occupied with other activities. On the other hand, I often feel like I want to save those precious solo hours for less mundane tasks and want to get our kids in the habit early of sharing the household chores like shopping and cooking.
But let’s face it; grocery shopping with young children can be less than relaxing and, sometimes, downright exhausting! The good news is that as the kids get older, especially as they learn their way around the supermarket, they can be a big help at the store, so hang in there.
Below are some suggestions that may just save your sanity at the market, and keep you from hiding behind that cereal display at the end of aisle 8!
1. Go when the deck is stacked in your favor: Make sure your child is well rested. If he or she still naps, avoid going during or just before naptime. While you’re at it, try to make sure you’re in a decent mood and not in a giant hurry so you can relax a little and enjoy the “adventure” of shopping with your kids.
2. Be prepared: Make sure you have an organized grocery list to help you get through the store quickly (piece of cake for all of us Six O’Clock Scramblers). Also, bring some things that will help keep your child entertained (think small and seldom-seen toys and special fun snacks, like animal crackers.)
3. Offer a free ride: If your child is young enough to sit in the front part of the grocery cart, take advantage of it! If you’ve got them confined (please use the safety belt), you can engage them in a game of “I Spy” with items on your grocery list. If your kids are too big (or unwilling) to ride in the grocery cart, you can keep them close at hand by having them help you push the cart. Try assigning your kids the task of getting some items you need and putting them into the cart.
4. Turn the shopping trip into a sensory experience: As we all know, kids are like sponges, soaking up sights, smells and sounds wherever they go. The supermarket is a great place to take advantage of this (and to keep your child engaged and cooperative). Some examples of this are, “Feel how cold this bag of frozen vegetables is,” or “Which bananas look the most yellow,” or “Which peaches do you think smell fruity and ripe?” or “What kind of sound does this cereal make when you shake the box?” The opportunities here are endless.
5. Take advantage of teaching moments: If you have an older child, you can keep them interested in other ways, including helping them use the Fooducate app to determine whether your grocery choices are the healthiest ones. While in the produce section, talk to them about which fruits and veggies are best for their eyes and which are good for encouraging strong bones. This may get them interested in trying new foods when they get home, too. And grocery shopping presents a great opportunity to talk with your child about using money wisely, sticking to a budget or even how to compare prices of different brands or package sizes.
Armed with these suggestions, I hope the idea of heading to the grocery store with your children is a little less daunting. If you have some ideas on how to make this food gathering adventure more palatable, I’d love to hear from you. Just email me at aviva at thescramble dot com or share your ideas on The Scramble Facebook page.
Aviva Goldfarb helps busy parents let go of all the stress at 6:00 and bring joy and good nutrition back to the dinner table. She is a mother of two and the author and founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble, an online dinner planning system and cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), and is author of “SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue: Earth Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Meals for Busy Families” (St. Martin’s Press, 2010), which was named one of the best cookbooks of 2010 by on the Washington Post.