What can I do?
Get the timing right.
Think about when you plan to shop – if you can, try to go in the morning when they’re not tired, and not hungry. Take older kids to the toilet before you leave.
Don't over do it.
It’s easy to think ‘I’ll just pop into one more shop’ but little ones have short attention spans. Try to keep the outing to one or two shops – to avoid overtiredness. Be firm and talk about what you’re there to buy, and what you’ll do after. “We need to go to the supermarket, then buy those new shoes for you, then we can go to the park. Young kids don’t understand the idea of ‘window shopping!’
Limit the wandering.
Keep them strapped in the trolley if you can (or holding onto the trolley, if you’ve got more than one).
Keep them involved.
Involve them in helping create your shopping list “Do we need any…?” Let them choose between flavours – eg strawberry or apricot? Give them a job e.g. looking for something on the list.
Stay strong when there's a meltdown.
Sometimes no matter what you do, something will set off a tantrum. If you have said no, stick with your decision be strong, be calm and don’t give in even if it seems easier. Kids will remember how it goes Want/deny/scream/get!
Ignore any stares.
Don’t worry about other shoppers – most will have been there. Remember, your job is to help your child and you are doing a great job!
Don't be afraid to walk out if you need to.
If things really are turning to custard – leave the trolley, and the store – come back another day. Or grab only what you really need (bread and milk?) and head to the checkout. This also shows your kids that there are consequences when they misbehave.
Plan your route round the supermarket.
Keep your trolley away from stuff you don’t want to buy and your child will want. Try to pick a lolly-free checkout if there’s one.
Give them a job at the checkout.
Let them hand you stuff or put stuff on the checkout counter Let them push the button on the EFTPOS machine. Thank them for being helpful.
Distract them when you are waiting in the queue.
Play games like “I Spy’ with older kids while you wait. Break out snacks in a container or a special toy.
If it’s gone wrong – learn for next time.
If something went wrong, don’t beat yourself up. But think about how you could avoid it next time. Remember you and your kids are doing the best you can.
Focus on the good.
Try to think of something positive about how they behaved and praise them for it. If you’ve offered a reward for good behaviour, try not to always make it lollies or biscuits. A game or trip to the park with you makes better memories than treats. Remember to let them hear you sharing with others how great they were to go shopping with.
And what about you?
Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.
Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?