You can make shopping fun again, even with your kids in tow. All it takes is a bit of planning and organizing. These mom-tested tips for shopping with kids can transform your errands into quality family time, or at least make the experience less stressful for everyone.

When you take the kids along, even a quick trip to the store can become a drawn-out ordeal. You may dread running errands because of the constant whining, deal making or breakdown of negotiations.

But what if we told you it didn’t have to be that way? That you could actually enjoy shopping with your offspring?

Believe it! We’re about to make your next shopping trip a whole lot easier.

Ten Tips For Shopping With Kids


#1 Be A Super Model

 And no, we don’t mean doing hair and make-up before going to the store. (Although you can totally do that if it’s your thing). Kids take a lot of their behavior cues from their parents. If you act like running errands is the greatest thing ever, you may be able to get them excited about participating. Hide the dread and avoid the word “chore”. You might be surprised at how well your children cooperate.

#2 Plan Ahead

 When shopping with kids efficiency is the name of the game. Your child’s patience is limited. Make a list! Even better, organize it by sections (produce, meat, dairy, etc.) so that you never have to double back to get something you missed. Kids hate that, and they will start to complain or drag. Go into the situation with a clear plan of attack and you’ll come out ahead.

#3 Be Age Appropriate

 Different ages bring their own challenges. If you have babies or toddlers, try waiting to run errands until after nap time, or better yet, go early in the day while they are still fresh and happy. You may want to wear a carrier and skip the cart to keep them contained and feeling connected to you. Older kids can help with tasks, such as pushing the cart or finding items from the list, to keep them interested.

#4 Snacks!

When it comes to tips for shopping with kids, snacks is an important one.  You know how grouchy you get if you shop when you’re hungry or tired? The same goes for your children!

Pack a snack to take with you for when they get peckish. Some stores may offer small treats for children, but if you bring your own, you can be sure it’s a healthy choice. Plus, having a quality snack on hand can be a blessing when you hit the check-out lane with all the enticing candy on display.

#5 Pit Stop

 Does it seem like your kids always need to go to the bathroom at the worst possible moment? Head them off at the pass by stopping by the restroom when you get to the store. If you get the potty break out of the way first thing, you might be able to make it all the way through your list.

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#6 Avoid Power Struggles

Kids are prone to tantrums and meltdowns when they feel like they have no control. You can keep your children engaged by giving them a bit of responsibility while running errands. Let them pick their fruit or cereal from a couple of choices. Have them hold the list or help empty the shopping cart. These options may seem small to you, but can give your kids a way to feel helpful and valued.

#7 Play Time

 Shopping is practically a pastime, so why not make it fun? Turn your cart into a walking game of memory or I Spy as you shop. For older children, your grocery list may be a treasure hunt full of booty to find. You can also work on reading and math skills by reading labels or figuring out savings for sales. The aim is to keep your kids engaged so they don’t get bored.

#8 Make It A Learning Experience

 As tempting as it is to avoid shopping with your kids, make an effort to take them with you once in a while. Children can learn about controlling their emotions and demonstrating good behavior in different situations, especially when in public. The interactive skills that they develop will serve them well throughout their lives.

#9 Ignore The Haters

 We don’t know what it is about being in public that makes strangers feel totally comfortable giving you parenting advice or staring in judgement. But guess what? It doesn’t matter what other people think. You are parenting your children, whether you’re at home or in a store. You don’t owe other people an explanation or an apology for shopping with your kids, even if they act up a bit. Keep doing what’s best for your family and don’t give in to the mom guilt.

#10 Deep Breaths

 The last of our tips for shopping with kids?  You may need to just relax a bit. Shopping with your kids can be fun if you don‘t set your expectations too high. Yeah, your errands may take longer, but your kids are building valuable social skills. If you completely run out of patience, show your kids a positive way to handle frustration. “I need a break, let’s sit outside for a minute”. Stepping away from the crowds can rejuvenate you and them.

If, after trying some or all of our tips for shopping with kids, it becomes clear that your little ones have reached their limit and can’t handle any more stimulation, stores, or people – it’s time to call it a day. Maybe you miss that last errand, or don’t grab a particular item, but those things can wait. An exhausted, cranky, over-stimulated child probably can’t.

Plus, if you show your kids patience and understanding today, they’ll likely have more tolerance on the next shopping trip. You got this!