Do you ever shop with your kids, and feel like you're going to either lose your mind of lose a child while you're doing it? I certainly do! From the tantrums to the screaming "I want this," "I'm hungry NOW," or "I need to pee," to the really not-fun hide-and-seek my daughter likes to play, while running wild through the grocery isles while I'm huffing behind her with my 3-ton cart I can barely maneuver, I've finally figured out (yes, this took me 5 years of parenting, I'll admit,) that if you make it all a fun game, YOU get the set the rules, or at least the parameters, and your kids just might actually enjoy listening and helping you instead of driving you mad, if you can engage them.
So, what are the rules and how do you play? That's up to you. And this might change depending on the day, your store, the age and number of your kids. But here are some suggestions I can share, which have worked wonders for me so far, and I would love to hear any thoughts or ideas you wish to chime in with. Let's reclaim our sanity and our shopping experiences, mamas. We can DO this, and make it fun too. (If I can do it, you can too, I am sure).
1) Promise your kids rewards and maybe even let them chose one, giving them some control. Say, if you don't run away one single time, AND help pick out all the veggies for the week, you can chose any type of (fill in the blank here) that you want.
2) Keep their minds busy. Best way to do this is to make them either count or look for things, like colors, letters, numbers, etc. Tell them, for example, that if they sit still in the cart AND find 10 letter A's before you are done with half your list, they get to chose something (the next desert you buy, or the next item, or the next school snack. Whatever you want). This makes the game become a race, so they have to focus really hard. And giving them control while YOU are actually remaining in control is key here. It's a great way to "fool" them into behaving, staying calm and listening to you.
3) Keep their hands busy. Give them a list and a pen, and ask them to help you check things off so that you don't forget anything. Let them even make the list with you, or make their own list of things they "need" for school lunch or breakfast.
4) Give them responsibility so that they feel like they are important, and that you need them there with you. Say, for instance, if they help you find 12 items on your list, nicely, they get to swipe your card at the register, or keep half the change. Or push the cart down the last 2 isles. (TIP: Pretending things are hard for you to find makes kids enjoy the game even more, and feel more engaged and proud to be helping you.)
5) One last idea, which is sort of a separate game, is to play a grocery store scavenger hunt. You need to make a list beforehand for this, and give your kids the tools and space to find the items and check them off. This is always fun though, and it can be a new game each time, since markets are full of SO much stuff. Finding new, exciting foods they have never noticed or tried before is a fun item to add, because it gets them interested in trying new food to eat, too.
Do you have any grocery shopping game ideas to share?