When I was younger I used to dream of vacations to far off places, entire days spent at the spa or grand adventures with fascinating people. Now my grandest dream and ambition is to go to the grocery store by myself, to be able to read labels, compare brands and spend an indulgent amount of time in the magazine aisle catching up celebrity gossip and fashion. Alas the grocery store by myself will remain a far off dream for now but in the mean time I've come up with a few clever ways to make the grocery store less stressful with little ones in tow.
Feed everyone before you go. Everyone has made the mistake at one time or another of going to the grocery store hungry. You end up buying everything and none of it is very healthy or practical. I have a very budget conscious friend who claims that "$5 for a little something to eat before heading to the grocery store will save you $20 in impulse purchases." Obviously it's cheaper to eat at home but that's not always a reality. Making sure you and your kids are fed will cut down on unessecary purchases and whining (from all of you.)
Make visual shopping lists. When my daugther was younger I would cut and paste photos of the things we needed to buy from store circulars and put her in charge of finding them. It kept her distracted, busy and feeling important and gave her something to hold so she wasn't tearing ceareal boxes off the shelf.
Put older kids in charge of 'The List.' Now that my daugther is older, I put her in charge of checking off our list. She loves walking down the aisles putting little checks next to the items we've found and scolding me when I make a purchase that isn't on 'The List.' Need to keep your grocery shopping in check? Bring along my bossy seven year old.
Allow your child to pick between a few things. I'm so not on board with bribing kids with treats in order to get good behavior out of them, I'm not saying I'm above it, I'm just saying I'd rather avoid it. Give your kids choices on little things (strawberry or blueberry yogurt?) and they'll feel like an important and involved part of the process and in my experince are less likely to ask for forbidden treats later on since they got to pick out what they wanted from 'The List.'
Obviously every child is different and I'm sure I'll have to tweak and mold my strategy as my baby gets older, but these tips and tricks got me through some marathon grocery shopping trips with a toddler in tow.