1. Use your resources. If a store has a cool race car attached to the front, let your child "drive the cart". If you have a baby in tow, many parents love using a baby carrier to carry the little one.
2. Be prepared. Think ahead and have a plan. Feeding your kids before you go to the store can eliminate feelings of hunger and moodiness. In addition, you may want to bring a small snack in case of emergency. Also, have your kids go to the bathroom before leaving the house. If one of your children is potty training, know where the bathroom is located in the grocery store (and expect that you may have to rush there on a moments notice!). Finally, plan ahead, use a list, and write the items on your grocery list in categories such as aisles or categories.
3. Bribery. Well, not really but everyone responds to earning a reward! It's human nature. Preset your kids with what you expect from them while at the store. If you can, give them a treat like a movie when they get home or take them to the park (if they make good choices). Remember, it does not have to be an edible treat...it can just be time spent with you!! WARNING: If you make a promise, make sure you can follow through if they are good or the whole plan will fly out the window!
4. Keep them busy. Children love being a "special helper", giving them some duties can help keep them occupied and focused on something (other than what they want to do when they get home). Plan an age appropriate game such as finding the best sale or finding the items on your list. Ask them to put things into the cart or be in charge of the calculator depending on their age and abilities.
5. Shop quickly. Consider the expectations you are putting on your child. If you are planning a 2 hour grocery shopping spree, expect your children to get bored, hungry, and probably moody!! Finally, if your child is a more challenging age or stage, save the coupon hunting for a time when you can shop alone!
6. Set boundaries. We've all beeen there...your child is acting out in the grocery store and you inadvertantly reward them with food in order to make it through the store without drama. As tough as it is in the moment, if you have a child who is really acting out, leave your cart and put the child in a time out in the store or take them to the car. Giving your child a time out may make that grocery shopping excursion more difficult but will help make future grocery trips a breeze!