Thursday, April 16, 2009

Surviving the Grocery Store

Boys are busy. Pre-school boys are even busier. So how do you grocery shop and stay sane? Be prepared. I always leave for shopping about a half-hour to an hour after my 2 year old's nap. That way I know he's not tired and not cranky from just having woken up. I also make sure that before we leave the house my oldest has gone to the washroom and that my youngest has a clean diaper on. There's nothing worse than hearing 'Mom I have to go pee' half-way through the shop.
I also make sure my 'mom bag' is stocked. I pack 2 snacks for each of them plus a portable cup for each. As soon as we get to the store, they both go in the cart (my 4 year old usually gets out halfway through to be my helper half-way through, but I like them contained for the beginning at least). It's also why I like the Superstore, they have carts made for 2 kids to sit in.
We then swing by the snack area to pick up some strawberry milk (which goes in the go-cups I've packed). They are happy with the treat and I don't hear, 'Mom, can I get a treat?' the rest of the shop. The snacks I've packed don't come out right away either, they don't come out until I can see they are restless or they ask for them. Sometimes we never get to them. Especially on days when the sample ladies are in the store.
Letting my oldest be my helper is good too. It keeps him busy and involved and gives me an opportunity to talk about the kinds of foods we get. I also let them get some choice in what we are buying. For example, they really like the yogurt drinks so I will ask do they want strawberry or banana this week? Or they will be allowed to choose which kind of applesauce cups they want to get this week.
I think it's important to talk about food choice with your kids. Yesterday, my oldest asked why we don't buy the canned pasta. He's pretty accepting when I told him that first his brother was allergic to it (soy oil content) and that it has too much salt which isn't good for your body. I figure they have to come along anyways they may as well learn from it.
It's also a great oppourtunity for other kinds of learning. If I'm buying tuna I will ask my oldest to get 3 cans so he is getting some counting practice. Or we will talk about some of the words we see as we go buy (literacy practice).
I'm not saying it always goes smoothly. Probably 90% of the time it's smooth and the other 10% I wish I could have gone alone, or with just one of them. But I can usually see where I went wrong in those cases. Like I picked a time when one was tired. Or I didn't pack a snack. Or I knew they were already getting on each others nerves before we left.
Being a regular at the store helps too. I know who the fast cashiers are that like kids and which ones are as slow as molasses. The end of the shop is the most likely time for a melt-down, they can get store weary, just like the rest of us. It's also where they place the candy, which is frustrating too. But you deal with it and then you're home again, home again jiggety-jig :o)

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