How to make your kids supermarket superstars
Very few parents relish the thought of heading out to the supermarket with young kids in tow. You can be as organised as you like, with your shopping list in your pocket, and your trolley coin ready for the ubiquitous wrestle to release the trolley, but if your child’s not in the mood, it can be more stressful than running a marathon! Prepare for the sympathetic or angry looks from the other shoppers as your child puts in an Oscar-worthy performance for “Best performance in a shopping trolley”.
Since we’d all much rather spend our time at home with our little ones than making our way up and down the aisles looking for the best price on laundry detergent, we’ve put together a few tips which will hopefully make the weekly shop a little more tolerable. Of course, if they don’t work, there’s always online shopping, but why not follow our guide and make the supermarket a place to learn and share, rather than a place to perform?
1. Pick your moment
You know your child’s routine better than anyone, and you know when they’re most receptive. Although it may seem like you’re wasting this prime time in a shop, it’s actually a smart tactical manoeuvre. Clearly, you want to make sure your little one has had some rest. The supermarket is designed to be a sensory overload experience, and that’s just for adults. It’s far more intense for kids. Loud noises, bright lights and new things to touch and feel will overwhelm an exhausted child, and do a tired parent no favours either.
2. Prepare for battle
Remember the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”? That applies here. Get everything you need ready before you leave the house. Organise your shopping list logically, perhaps in the order that you’d travel around the supermarket. Pack a few toys which will distract your child as you push the trolley around and let you get the job done without interruptions.
3. Broom broom!
If they’re still young enough to sit in the child seat of a trolley, get them in there. They’re safe, they’re confined and they’ll focus their attention on you. Strap them in and set them a challenge. Maybe a game of I Spy, or “shat can you see that’s red/round/got an animal on it?” Confident walkers who won’t want to get into the trolley will need engaging in other ways, such as hunting down a special item as you move round the shop.
4. Play school
You’re the adult, so you can use the supermarket as a learning experience. Older children can compare prices, or look at nutritional information labels to decide which item is the best choice. Use the scales to help learn about weights, and counting apples or carrots into a bag can help with number skills. Younger children can benefit from the sensory side of things – get them to feel, smell or listen to items around the shop. Build up their vocabulary from a young age for reading and writing rewards later on. It’s great to point out healthy choices as well, teaching kids about the importance of a balanced diet and making the best choices to keep their bodies going.
5. Treat time
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of bribery, as long as it works in your favour. Encourage kids to choose a new fruit or vegetable to snack on, or look at some of the recipe cards which many supermarkets leave out to inspire you. If they’re open to trying new foods from a young age, it decreases your chance of having to cope with a fussy eater as they grow up.
Finally, remember that while it’s a stressful experience now, your kids are learning social skills which will hold them in good stead for the future. As they grow, they’ll know what to expect, and want to get more involved. Turn that enthusiasm to your advantage, and you’ll have a willing, well trained assistant as the years go by.