Does every single grocery shopping trip with your kids end in an endless tantrum?

Here’s what I did to get my children to behave and have fun at the grocery store.

Every mother experiences those times where you simply have to take your kids with you to the grocery store and sometimes it doesn’t always make for a pleasant experience. This happened to me all of the time, especially with my oldest child. We were always dealing with whining, tantrums, and begging for items that were not on our grocery list.

But after trying these tricks for keeping my kids busy while grocery shopping, I was able to get all of my shopping done without any meltdowns. 


1. Eat Before Shopping

By having a meal or at least a good snack beforehand, kids are much less likely to complain about being hungry in the grocery store. And you are less likely to buy food that you do not need just because you are hungry and it looks good at the time.

This also saves you money since you are not impulse buying.



2. Go After Naptime

Moms know that you never skip naptime, especially if you are planning on going out. Kids who are sleepy tend to act out more because they are overtired and irritable. So always try to get naptime in before taking a trip to the grocery store.

This will make your experience much more pleasant since everyone will be rested and refreshed. 


3. Make a Grocery List

Going to the grocery store without a list is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when shopping with kids. Not only will you not know if you are forgetting something that you need, but you are also more likely to aimlessly roam down each aisle of the grocery store which takes much more time.

I always try to keep a running grocery list on my phone in the notes section because even if I forget to bring a written out list, I still have the list on my phone to fall back on.


4. Ask Kids to Help with Adding Items to the Grocery List

I always try to ask my kids to help me with writing out my grocery list. They love to look inside the pantry and the refrigerator to see if there is anything that they eat that needs to be added to our list.


5. Set Up Expectations

Kids thrive when they know what to expect and what their parents expect of them.

By creating a gameplan with kids before going inside they will know how you expect them to behave in the grocery store. I like to tell my oldest not to let me forget one or two important items to keep her involved and alert while we are shopping.


6. Park Next to Cart Return

Of course, finding a parking space up by the front door may seem like the most logical choice but it’s really not for moms with kids. By parking next to or close by a cart return, I can get them out of the car and straight into a cart so I don’t have to carry anyone.

And when I am done grocery shopping, I am able to load my kids into the car, load my groceries and return the cart all without having to walk away from my car. 


7. Offer a Reward for Good Behavior

There is nothing wrong with offering a small reward to your kids if they are able to be good inside the grocery store. Many stores even offer a FREE cookie from the bakery to children when shopping. I love this!

For my kids, I will often start at the opposite end of the grocery store so that they do not get a cookie unless they behave throughout the grocery store.

Of course, you can change this up if you’d like. We just noticed that when we gave our kids a cookie at the beginning of the shopping trip they would always act out throughout the store since there was no longer any incentive to be good.


8. Let Them Help by Grabbing Items Off of the Shelves

My kids love to be helpful so when I point out an item that I need them to get for me, they are so happy to be contributing. This also keeps them very busy helping with getting things in the cart rather than being bored and getting frustrated. 


9. Produce Ties

I saw this amazing hack a year ago and it is brilliant. You know the produce ties that are usually used to tie up produce bags? My kids love to grab one and make different shapes out of them.

This keeps their hands busy for at least a few minutes while I grab anything that I need. 


10. Have Your Child Help with Grocery List

Like I said my kids love helping. And if your kids are old enough to read have them help you with handling the grocery list. They can help out by:

  • crossing off items on the list
  • reading next item on the list


11. Let the Kids Make Choices

Giving kids choices makes them feel included in the decisions. This is huge for little kids. My daughter often loves helping to choose different flavors for our muffins or choosing whether we get strawberry yogurt of blueberry.

It sounds simple but they will remember picking things out themselves and making small choices. 


12. Make it a Teaching Experience

I love making anything I can a teaching experience with my kids. We will often practice colors with our toddler by asking him to grab the milk with the red top. He remembers colors by naming off trains from Thomas and Friends.

So I would say something like, “Owen can you grab the red milk?” And if he needs more of a reminder which one is red. I will say, “Red like James.”


13. Pack Distracting Essentials

To avoid tantrums, have a few things on hand that can calm them down if they seem like they are getting upset. This could be anything from:

Are you a pro at grocery shopping with kids without any tantrums? If so, tell me if you have any additional tips for getting the shopping done while keeping it fun. 

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