5 Ways to Shop with a Toddler Like a Boss!

Currently, my oldest goes to daycare 3 days a week and my mothers 2 days a week. She enjoys the routine and wouldn't like the craziness and unpredictability of my rotating schedule. My youngest stays with me 2 days a week that I have off and goes to daycare the rest of the week. It is kind of crazy but it works really well, especially since my youngest has health issues and appointments that go with them.

Having said all that though when I first had "A" (my youngest) we were in-between daycares and also didn't have the money while I was on maternity leave so I had both girls 3 days a week. One of the biggest challenges I found was trying to go grocery shopping. Having a newborn screaming and a toddler trying to run around the store is enough to make anyone lose their mind and pull out there hair.

So I started to put on my thinking cap about how I could make this more functional. I remember being a child and going with my mom to the mall to shop for clothes. It was so boring and I would hide in racks of clothing and just run around because I was looking for something exciting, or imagining my own excitement. So here is a list of things that I found to be helpful and a FREE printable. That's right a free shopping list for your toddler to look at and mark off on there own.

1. Make it a game. 

Kids will do anything if you make it a game, cleaning, brushing their teeth. It's almost like they are a slave to the thought of competition or winning a prize. You don't need anything special for this, just some creativity and forethought. If you know your store well and know what's on your shopping list this is super simple. You can say "Hey! I am trying to find something that is yellow in this aisle. It comes in bunches. Can you help me find them?" Then of course when they find bananas make a big deal that they figured out that they are bananas, and that they found them.

2. The reward at the end.

This is a classic in the motherhood book, because it is what my mom used the most with us, and I see parents using it at Walmart all the time. Promising a treat at the end of the trip for good behavior is something that worked for me as a child. Going to McDonald's, getting to pick out a toy from a dollar bin, or getting ice cream what have you. The only issue with this with young children is that they have very little attention span or foresight. They want to go to McDonald's but time is relative so it's not very effective. This is something that is better for older kindergarten-aged children. They have a little more grasp on time and that the reward will come. 

3. Make their own list. 

My daughter is one of those that enjoys responsibility. It's apart of the autonomy she is learning as a 4-year-old and she enjoys it. So allowing her to use what developmentally is already available to me is a win-win. I made one that has just pictures since she does not read quite yet. You can find that here.

4. Do it at the best time. 

I cannot tell you how often I am making a milk or formula run later in the evening and I see children melting down in the store. Their parent's freaking out at there ill-behaved children. Of course, they are melting down, it is 9 at night and they have had a long day just like you. They are tired and have very little resources to draw upon. This isn't always feasible sometimes you run out of things at the worst time that has to be replaced as soon as possible, but for the times that you know you are going to be planning to shop make it at a time that you know everyone is in good spirits. Right after nap time, or right after snack time. So that everyone is rested, full, and not close to melting down just by the simple fact that they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. 

5. Bring the snacks and drinks. 

This is another one that my mother did with us a lot. That little baggie of cheerios was a must. This is ingenious because it cuts down on wanting to eat with your eyes, and get junk food. If your little one is munching on something healthy and has their water in their sippy cup they are too busy chowing down to care what the aisles have to offer. I always bring at least drinks for my girls when going anywhere. There is nothing worse than being parched and thirsty and not being able to take a drink. 

These are just some of the ideas I came up with while brainstorming how to solve my shopping woes. I had the best luck with the "make it a game" and "make their own list" C was so excited by her own list that she asked to go grocery shopping every day that week! It was a huge hit. In a pinch making it a game is one of the ways I have avoided meltdowns on my and her part 😂. 

Don't get me wrong, we still do have tantrums. Just the other day I was getting supplies for A's first birthday party and my oldest started crying because she didn't understand why we weren't buying anything for her birthday party. That was a time for a discussion about how birthdays work and that she was still special even if it wasn't her birthday because being the big sister is a special thing to be as well. It's all just a balancing act on what you know your child needs.

I hope this helps you as much as it has me. Until next time! 


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