My heart went out to the poor thing.
The little dear was crying.
A total meltdown.
And I didn’t know who I felt more sorry for – the young child? Or his struggling mom?
It was a toss-up. They were both so miserable.
My husband and I were at the Costco check-out and I could hear him wailing all the way down the aisle. I think we all could hear him.
I knew what the mother felt like. You see, I’ve been there. Except that I didn’t just have one child. I had three, maybe four, and it wasn’t any fun.
In truth, I’m not an enthusiastic grocery shopper in the first place, but then to add a crying kid or two?
Well, I think I’d rather we went without food.
But as the rest of my family had a different opinion, I figured I’d better come up with a plan that worked for all of us.
A Zero Meltdown Plan.
And I’m going to share it with you today.
You know, just in case you ever need it . . . or know someone else who might.
My 10-Step, Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Young Children
1. Feed your children first . And then yourself. Never go shopping when you’re hungry. Never, ever.
2. Leave when you’re all well-rested. Your kids. And yourself. (You knew I was going to add that, didn’t you.) Go in the morning, or after naps, but avoid going right before naps or close to bedtime.
3. Write up your grocery list before you ever go out the door. This list is your strategy plan and you have to stick to it. Take care of all the decision-making before you even get there.
4. Decide on your expectations for your children (does not apply to babies). Come up with a policy that you believe is reasonable and clear. Things like, No grabbing items off the shelves and No begging for particular food items. No whining (goes for mommy too) and Always stick close to mom. That kind of stuff.
5. Explain instructions before you leave the house. Sit your children down and slowly and lovingly walk through your expectations with them. Don’t be in a rush. This is important.
6. Outline the consequences of not following the Grocery Store Policy. Again, slowly and lovingly. The consequences will vary from family to family (and I highly recommend getting your husband’s input, if that’s an option).
7. Review instructions again before leaving the vehicle. Yes, even if the grocery store is only 15 minutes from the house. Children can have such short memories with these things.
*Let me add that it’s easy to assume that our kids know what is expected from them, but this is not always the case. We have to spell it out to them. And repeat it. And repeat. And . . . 🙂
8. Get your shopping done as quickly as possible. Not necessarily rushing, but this is not the time to browse or meander. If you want a leisurely time of it, then arrange to go sometime without your young children.
9. Be willing to follow through on consequences. Seriously. If you miss #9? Well, it kind of defeats the purpose of #4, #5, and #6.
10. Reward your children for behaving. Personally, I’m a big fan of rewards! Not bribes, not spoiling, just a simple celebration of a job well done. Maybe a treat, a special privilege, or even just an excited phone-call to daddy telling him, We did it! Yay!!
*Extra, extra bonus: Teach your children about shopping as you go along. Talk to them and explain what you’re doing and why.
And before you know it, they’ll be doing the shopping for you. I say this because I’ve basically worked myself out of that job.
And that’s a reward in and of itself! Big yay!!
*Any tips you’d add here? Questions or concerns? I always love hearing from you!
In His grace,
(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
Lisa is the happily-ever-after wife of Matt Jacobson and together they enjoy raising and home-educating their 8 children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She encourages women to embrace the rich life of loving relationships and the high calling of being a wife and mother. Lisa is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and her husband is the author of 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt and Lisa are also the co-hosts of the FAITHFUL LIFE podcast where they talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture.