Let me start this blog by saying, my kids make me want to drink at 8 am at least 8 times a week. They are by no means runners-up to be named saints in the next century or two. However, I did notice that somehow, I accidentally got something right when raising them. There is a time of day that I want to scream less often and that’s when we go shopping.
I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately and initially chalked their good behavior up to being little, but my son is three and I see kids half his age purple-faced and flopping in checkouts almost daily. So, I thought I would come up with some tips for those sweaty moms with the pleading eyes that are throwing bags of chocolate at their children in hopes to make it out of the store before leaving their child with the cashier.
1. Distraction is my best friend. While I don’t let the kids bring toys in and absolutely DO NOT give them a toy off the shelf to amuse them while I walk, I take this time to talk with them. They have a million questions and almost 75% of them is, “Mom, can I have that?!” Even though my kids have only had a handful of meltdowns while shopping in the past three years, it still makes me flinch like a beat dog every time. But, I always answer that the same way, “No, oh my goodness did you see this!?” Then I quickly point my finger and something or someone to get them very excited about the next thing and forget about the box of tampons they wanted five minutes ago.
2. We don’t promise rewards. We don’t do the, “If you can make it through the store without crying until you puke I will buy you a king’s ransom!” Don’t get me wrong, I have done it, but by giving them the option of public humiliation you are already setting the stage that this is a possibility. Good behavior is the expectation. You can’t walk into the store expecting shit to hit the fan. You got this. Deep breaths.
3. They get a reward if they don’t ask for it. If we can make it from walking through those automatic doors all the way back to the checkout without tears/begging/slapping of siblings, I will grab a treat for them. If they ask for it, the answer will be “No.” This gives you the control and they are rewarded for NOT asking for something.
4. We explain cost. One of the many conversations we have while shopping is about the cost of items. This comes in handy when things are asked for that are extravagant. We explain that this item costs money and when Daddy is gone all day that is what he is earning. In order for us to be able to get that toy/treat he would have to be gone a looong time. We don’t want that, do we? Make sure you only use this one when kids are well rested. Otherwise, Daddy might not like the answer to that question.
5. This is fun! Shopping for our family is a family outing. We really enjoy doing this together and get some quality time without electronics or television. We work together to pick out meals and it’s the time of week we look forward to. If going to the store is seen as hell fire and damnation, kids will act like Satan’s minions. Remember, deep breaths. You got this.