We’ve all done it before and we continue to do it over and over again becoming more and more frustrated each time. “I’ll be better prepared next time” I hear you say. I’m talking about grocery shopping with little ones in tow. In a perfect world we would leave them with a relative or a friend and go off and do our weekly shop but that’s not reality these days. Everyone is busy.

Here are some tips to help create a less stress-full experience for everyone involved, including other shoppers.

1. Give your child a meal BEFORE you leave home. Having a full tummy helps reduce the need to nag for food.  You can’t guarantee they won’t ask for food but they won’t have that excruciating need to whine or scream that they are hungry.

2. Also make sure your child is not tired. Try to do the shop in the morning if you can. I have a rule where I drop the bigger kids to school and continue straight to the shop. I have a lunch box for my toddler all prepared as I do it when I’m doing the other school lunches. Then we have the afternoon to come home and do as we please until school pickup. I starting doing it this way when my children had afternoon naps but we are past that stage now.  Over the years it has worked very well so I still stick to it. We never have to rush to pick up from school either.

3. Make a list. It sounds like a given but making a list really does help. There is no point running around the store in circles trying to figure out what to make for dinner for the next five nights when you have no clue where to start.

4. Make a pretend list for your little munchkin. Let him or her help you mark off items from the list. If they are very young use pictures from catalogues and stick them onto pieces of paper leaving room to be marked off. If they are learning to read or recognise letters you could help them learn along the way.

5. Play games. If you notice the signs of impatience brewing then maybe introduce a little game like ‘who can find the most animals on signs’ or ‘who can find the most ‘red’ items’ etc.

6. Promise a play in the shopping centre children’s area if yours has one. This sometimes keeps my daughter behaving a bit longer as I say “If you are good for mum you can have a play”. If she is not good I stick to my threat and don’t give her a play.

7. Keep your word! This is an important one. There is no point threatening to do or not do something if you are not going to go through with it. It will only confuse your child and make a rod for your own back later on. If your little darling knows you are not actually going to take the lolly off them then they will keep misbehaving.

8. Have a lunchbox of food even though they have just eaten. I include food in my daughter’s lunch box that she doesn’t eat very often so that it is a surprise when we go shopping. She is entertained longer because it is not the ‘usual’ thing she has at home.

9. ALWAYS include a small treat from home in their lunch box for when the shopping is done. This is great for two reasons. (1) It helps them be good for longer as they know they will get rewarded with it at the end of the shop. Afterall, your child has to sit in the trolley for up to an hour then the least they deserve is a little treat.  (2) It helps when they ask for something from the lolly isle. You can easily say “well you have this treat for when we are done only if you are good for mummy”.

10. If you still find you cannot have a positive shopping experience with the kids then maybe online shopping is for you. It really isn’t so bad once you get set up. You can have a regular shopping list once you create your initial one and just omit anything you find you don’t need for that particular week. Most supermarkets also make their weekly specials available across the board, that is, both on-line and in-store.  Some supermarkets even offer free postage on a certain day of the week. Bonus!