See how the other 3 moms wrangle their little ones here:
Once upon a time, many years ago, my children were all little. I had 3, 3yo and under. Then I had 4, 4yo and under. Then I had 5, 6yo and under. Then I had 6, 8yo and under. For most of that period, we had no family within a thousand miles, and hubby usually worked 2 or even 3 jobs.
He helped as he was able and available, but during the day I was on my own. I could have run errands during the evenings when he was home but I enjoyed his company and didn’t want to disappear on his night off. Yes, I still enjoy his company, and because our children are old enough stay home alone now we can meet in town and run errands together.
Because of all this, back then I chose to do all of my errands and grocery shopping with the children in tow. It was relatively easy with one or two. When the third arrived, I worried about the logistics but we quickly figured out what worked for us. Ditto for #4.
Each time I knew that I was doing fine with the current number of children, but wondered what I would do when the next arrived. Each time, God provided an answer that seemed clear and simple in retrospect. I won’t tell you exactly how to handle your current number of children in a busy parking lot, but I will say that a well-trained brood can go nearly anywhere with less trouble than you might expect.
Along the way, I learned a few rules that make everything go smoother. Many of these still apply even with older children along for the ride.
Mom’s Rules for Shopping with Little Ones
(revised and expanded from this post of days bygone)
BEFORE YOU GO IN:
INSIDE THE STORE:
- Have them help, and vary the routine. I stop the cart at the ends of some aisles and send a pair of children for what we need. Sometimes I will go after items myself, taking along 1 or 2 small helpers to carry items back to the cart. Other times I will bark out orders as we pass through the aisles: “Lydia, grab 3 cans of spaghetti sauce.” “Natalie, get the animal crackers.” ” Deanna and Kaitlyn, choose 3 lbs. of nice tomatoes.” This works more and more as the children get older, but even the little ones recognize many of the items we buy and they love to help.
- Move quickly when possible. Make them pay attention and work (just a little) to keep up with you. Bored children are trouble waiting to happen.
- Don’t be afraid to use 2 carts. I often did this when they were all little. Others will stare slack-jawed at your mad shopping skilz, but it’s really not that hard. Put two or three small children in the front cart where you can watch them and steer with one hand – it’s relatively easy to steer if the children are light and no one rides on the front end of the front cart. Then pull the heavy grocery cart behind you.
- Have them help you unload the groceries onto the conveyor belt. Like having them help at home, this may not save you time in the beginning. But it keeps them busy and out of trouble, and it is training for when they are big enough to actually be helpful.
- Do your best to keep the children strictly in order. It is so much easier to keep order than to restore order! Find what works, and consistently train toward that set of rules.
MOM’S RULES OF ORDER:
- No Touching
- No Asking
See? Wasn’t that easy? Just 2 rules. This does not mean that they shouldn’t remind me that we’re low on diapers or make a menu suggestion, but they all know that if they ask for popsicles or a box of donuts, the answer is going to be “No.” If, on the other hand, they all stand quietly and stare longingly at popsicles or a box of donuts (especially Little Chocolate Donuts), I am easily persuaded.
I can’t stress enough: training is everything! It will get easier as you and the children practice. I still find that we have to freshen up on training and manners if we don’t go out often enough, so don’t get discouraged if the first few times are stressful. It does get easier, and you will figure out what works for you and your children.
Oh, and just about the time you feel like you’ve really got it all figured out, everything changes and you’ll need a totally new system. Just like laundry. I just thought you should know that ahead of time.
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms 35 Kids
- April 1 Kitchen/food budgeting
- April 8 Menu planning/shopping
- April 15 Cooking from scratch – what you make from scratch and how you get it all done
- April 22 Recipe swap – We’ll all post a couple of our favorite, budget friendly, feed a crowd recipes and a Mr. Linky so that readers can participate by contributing their own recipes. When you share your link on one of our blogs, it will show up on all 4! How fun is that?!
- March 18 – Live-blog day, in which all 4 of us live-blog a real day in our home. Find out what we really do all day. It’s our own reality show, just for you. Who needs TV?