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Monday, March 12, 2012

My Two Cents: How to Get Into the Store with Kids...

So last week I shared my tips on how to get out of the house with kids but what happens when you reach your destination??  All of that hard work and planning to get out of the house won't do you a lot of good if you can't get yourself into the store.  Having spent the last two years running errands with two young children, I have learned some things.  Here is what works and what doesn't...

1.  Always park near the cart corral.  I used to think parking near the front doors was the most important thing but I have learned it is much better to be near the cart return.  That way you can grab a cart and return it quickly all while the kids sit safely strapped in their seats.  Otherwise you will have to juggle your kids and your bags while you try to steer the cart with one hand.  

2.   Tell your kids the game plan before you enter the store.  I try to let my kids know the general plan and what my expectations are before we head inside.  I tell them things like, "We are here to get 5 things and while I am shopping I need you to sit down in the cart."  I let them know up front what the consequence will be if they do not follow directions and even more importantly I tell them the incentive for behaving: a cookie after we pay or a treat from the dollar bin once I have gotten everything I need.

3.  Get them involved.  This works great for toddlers and above.  I ask them to help me find things (I spy...) or let them toss non-fragile things into the cart ( a favorite of my boys).  I also ask them to help me make decisions on what we are buying: "Do we want grape juice or apple juice?"  Usually this keeps them entertained long enough for me to get through at least part of my shopping.

4.  Utilize the buckles.  If your children are saints and will walk obediently by your side I give you kudos. If your kids are anything like mine and make a simple shopping trip a full on cardio routine, then you are already well-aware of buckles.  Whether its your stroller or the grocery cart save yourself some drama by buckling your kids in as soon as they get in the cart.  Make sure that at the very least they are strapped in tight when it comes time to check out.  The cash register is where my kids usually break down so I tighten that strap and pull out the holy grail (cookie) at that point.  At least if my child is screaming bloody murder I know that they can't jump out as I enter my pin number.

The only other tricks I can offer is to come prepared...bring their sippy cup, pack a small snack, distract them with stickers, and always carry wipes.  And once again I will preach the power of organization.  Having a list and being clear on what you need is crucial to making it to your destinations as well as through the store quickly!

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