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Is Shopping With Kids Wearing You Out? Try These Tips

By Jesse Michelsen

As a parent, shopping with your kids can be a frustrating and exhausting experience. When your child is not crying for this thing or that thing, they are sneaking things into the cart or making a big mess in the aisle. Here are some tips to keep things under control and create not just a tolerable experience, but also an enjoyable and fruitful one for both you and your child while doing the shopping:

Create a Game Plan Beforehand

Before you even go to the store, sit down with your child or children and get them involved in the process of making a shopping list. Have them tell you things that they need such as their favorite foods and allow them see you put their suggestions on the list. Then, create a duplicate of the list for your child to carry too. This will make them feel grown-up and involved during the entire process. You can also use this activity to weed out some of the wants and needs so that they understand beforehand which items you’ll be getting and which you’ve agreed are not necessary.

At The Store

While you shop, remind your child of what is next on the list and have them try and find the items in the store. Keep them as involved as you can during the whole process.

When they see something that they want, now is your chance to use the full power of the list, just like you would yourself as a budgeting tactic. Ask your child if the item they want is on the list.

Explain to them that the item is not on the list you both created earlier and that’s the reason they can’t get what they are asking for. They can add it to the list for the next shopping trip. Why is this so important? Well, remember when we were kids and our parents used the excuse, “because I said so”? It made no sense to us because there was no explanation or solid reason. By pointing out that the item is not on their list, they have a tangible reason why they can’t get the item, and even better, it takes the blame away from Mom or Dad.

Also, give them alternatives to things they did add to the list but weren’t able to purchase such as if their favorite cereal was on the list but out of stock at the store or too expensive. This again gives them a sense of power and decision-making authority.

When You Return Home

Once you get home, have your kids stay involved and help put the groceries away. Remind them to keep track of things they like and want to shop for next time. You can even start a list with them right then for the next trip to the store if there were things they realized they wanted while shopping but couldn’t get because they didn’t put it on the list earlier.

If you do start a list and add things between shopping trips, put the list in a place your kids can see. Then, you can use that list as an incentive for your kids to do their chores or go to bed on time in order for them to add a few wants to the list.

Young children don’t get the credit they deserve. They are much more aware of things than we as adults realize and they will really enjoy the involvement in a process they usually are just dragged along for. By getting them involved, not only will your trips to the store be more enjoyable and less exhausting, your child will learn valuable lessons in patience, planning, discipline and even how to live on a budget.

Do you have any other tricks for keeping your kids occupied during shopping trips? We would love to hear them, so let us know in the comments!

(photo credit: Carlo Nicora)

Jesse Michelsen
Jesse Michelsen is a 23 year freelance writer with a passion for personal finance. Without any formal education in finance, he writes about his own experiences in managing money, budgeting and investing with the goal of retirement at 40 always in mind. He resides in Utah with his wife, 2 girls, and baby boy on the way.

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  • Monica

    These are great ideas. Getting the kids involved will help keep them occupied without them running around or getting into things they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, there are always those days when I just don’t have the time to explain why we don’t want the brown apples or why we want the other brand of cereal. For those days, I pull up some of the apps I downloaded for my son and hand my phone off. I’ve downloaded a kids’ educational app called “Five Pumpkins” and DISH’s Remote Access app so he can watch his favorite shows. I heard about both of these apps from coworkers at DISH and love them. Five Pumpkins is great unless the game is too hard but the DISH app always keeps him quiet, still, and most importantly, entertained.

  • Jaiyonna


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