I used to hate taking my kids grocery shopping, but sometimes it’s inevitable! Here are some great tips for avoiding meltdowns at the grocery store!
Have you ever seen a mom struggling on the way into the grocery store?
Perhaps she’s trying to transport an infant in one of those hefty baby carriers while holding her toddler’s hand and making sure she doesn’t drop anything or get them all hit by a car.
Maybe you’ve witnessed her breathe a sigh of relief after wiping down all the grocery cart surfaces with sanitizing wipes and successfully securing her children into their seats.
Then you’ve seen her face turn red in embarrassment when her toddler started throwing a tantrum because she wouldn’t open the package of cookies sitting at the toddler’s eye-level on the shelf.
And then you’ve seen her cave. She glances around to see if anyone else is looking, winks at you, opens that package of cookies, whispers “shhhh” and gives one to her crying child.
If you’ve seen this woman around town, it’s probably been me.
In my pre-mommy days, I would’ve looked at a mother like myself and thought: My child will never act like that in public.
Yeah, right. Any mother of little ones will tell you (if she is truthful), it happens to all of us.
Grocery shopping has honestly been one of my biggest challenges since adding two children to our home. I admit that I told my husband when I was pregnant that he shouldn’t expect me to ever go shopping with both girls alone.
I just didn’t think I could do it.
But waiting until my husband came home from work at night or doing all the shopping on the weekends just didn’t fit in with my schedule.
So, when my baby was a few months old, I decided to risk it one day. I actually did it on a whim. “Hey, maybe I can do this,” I thought.
Once inside, I realized it was a little too close to lunch and naptime for my toddler, and she promptly proved she was not in the mood to grocery shop. She had a major meltdown, and yes, I appeased her with a cookie.
When she continued to cry for a second cookie after the first was gone, I completely ignored her. Yes, that was me glancing at the marked-down meats as if nothing were wrong while my toddler screamed at the top of her lungs.
Things have since gotten better. Here’s what I’ve learned about avoiding meltdowns in the grocery store:
1. Never go to the store around a mealtime or naptime.
It’s a given that your child will want to eat everything on the shelves and will have a meltdown at some point during the trip. Try to go during a time of day when you know your child is generally cheerful!
2. Take a snack with you.
Eating food before paying for it is a desperate measure. Most stores don’t seem to mind if you bring in a small snack and a sippy cup for your child. Try to bring a snack that takes a little longer to consume, so they’ll stay occupied longer. These snack cups are great for carrying treats on the go and keeping kids from eating too much at once!
3. Search for a parking space close to the door or cart return.
It’s a lot easier to immediately put your kids in the cart this way.
4. If possible, avoid the bakery and candy aisle.
What toddler wouldn’t get upset when you stroll by sweets and tell them they can’t have them? Hey, I’m excited, too, when I see Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups within arm’s reach, but I have the self-control to resist. Most children are still learning that discipline. Why not avoid the temptation altogether?
5. Take advantage of in-store samples and free cookies at the bakery.
If you do have to go by the bakery aisle, stop by the free samples counter FIRST so they can munch while you shop.
6. Accept help.
I’ve never been one to let an attendant wheel my cart to my car, but I’ve learned it helps … especially when I have one cartload of food and another cart holding the girls by the end of the trip.
Most of all, mama, make sure to give both your kids and yourself GRACE! This stage of life has its challenges, but keep a positive outlook, do the best you can, and try to enjoy those special moments, too–like watching your toddler wave to everyone or get excited about helping you put things in the cart. Take a deep breath and remember: grocery store meltdowns will pass!
What are your tips for avoiding meltdowns at the grocery store?
*This column first appeared in the April 25 edition of the Mooresville Weekly.