Shopping with children: tricks for tear-free shopping!

Make shopping less stressful

 Shopping with children.

The worst subject ever. We all dread it but sometimes we have no other choice. I have a one year old and a two year old- believe me I feel your pain. Someday my girls will learn to love shopping (and my bank account miss the days when they hated it) but for now I have to find ways to make it tolerable for all of us. While my preferred method is “stay home with dad,” my husband works so that isn’t always an option. For those times when I have to be “that Mom in Walmart” with two little kids, I developed a plan you can use too!

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I was inspired by the book “Llama Llama Mad at Mama” to shop together with the kids instead of dragging them with me while I shop. Involving them in the process allows them to feel included instead of just being along for the ride. By giving them special tasks and taking a few steps to prep, shopping trips have gotten less stressful and even become a “Mommy and Me” bonding activity. (Okay it’s fun only on short trips- let’s be realistic here!)

Llama Llama Mad at Mama

1. Make them a list– If they feel like they have an important job to do, they will be excited to help and more likely to stay on task. Depending on their age, they can write the own list or you can make one together. You can write the words, let them draw pictures of the items, or even cut images out of the store flyer. This will give them a very visual way to help. You can also use this printable list that includes images and words for common items (milk, bread, etc.) Print your list here:

Print: SHOPPING LIST for shopping with children

shopping with children

2. Let them bring their purse or wallet– Mom wouldn’t go to the store without her purse and/or wallet right? Kids can bring theirs too! Let them fill it with play money. You could even let them help ‘make’ some play money. I save all of the ‘sample’ credit cards that come in the mail (the ones with no actual information on them) for my kids to play shopping. You can also save gift cards with zero balances. Kids will feel extra important being able to carry a ‘real’ credit card and

3. Bring a play shopping cart– Some stores are awesome and provide child size ‘play’ shopping carts but the majority do not. You can bring one from home. Yard sales or consignments sales are great to find a cheap toy carts that you could keep in your car. This activity really keeps them occupied. Kids love to push their favorite doll or stuffed animal around the store. (A toy stroller works well too!)
My favorite:
Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart

4. Involve them in the transaction– Allow the child to hand the money to the cashier or help you run your credit card. Usually the cashier will humor the child and play along. They could even get their own small bag to carry to the car.




5. Keep a shopping stash of “special toys”- When you have a long trip or they just aren’t in the mood to be involved in shopping, try keeping a few “special” toys aside that they are only allowed to play with during shopping trips. Kids love to play with things they normally aren’t allowed to play with. I keep a special stash of toys in my “Out the door box”. You can also keep a few snacks on hand for emergencies. I’m a big promoter of healthy eating for kids– but if we don’t have groceries in the house- then we can’t eat healthy (or at all)! Mom has to shop and an occasional treat is totally acceptable (and let’s face it- necessary in the grocery store).

Follow these exact steps for stress-free trips to the grocery store. Just kidding! If I had a magic wand maybe… but taking a few steps to prep your children and try to involve them in the experience may help everyone get through a shopping trip with no tears.

Biggest kid melt down in a store- share it! Leave a comment and tell us how embarrassed you were (so we don’t feel like it’s only our kids who throw themselves on the floor in Target)…


Shopping with Children

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