I hate to grocery shop with all four kids. I can handle three. Two is amazing. One is like a pure miracle. No kids is almost a vacation. There are a few hours each day where all my kids are in school, and so you would think that any mom that had any sense in her head would grocery shop during those hours. Oh no, not this mom. A lot of times I will, but every once in a while I find myself at the grocery store with all four kids.
I have found two things that really help me when grocery shopping. The first one is that I spread the list out onto index cards and each kid gets one. The hard part is that it takes longer, but they are helping and a tad bit more entertained than without it.
For the kids that can't read it's a hassle to have to read the list to them 893 times during the trip, but I figure eventually she'll learn that M.I.L.K says milk and so on! I also try to have big brothers help with the reading.
The second tactic that works is very intense and sophisticated parenting at its best. There's no better way to say it, then to just say it. I bribe them.
Seriously. If they are good they get a treat at the end. No playing around. The only reason that this works for me, is that there have been many grocery trips where a kid has left without a treat. They know momma is not playing at the grocery store. This tactic only works if you follow through with it. If you tell your kid that you'll give them a treat if they behave (which isn't always best parenting I know this, but it's the grocery store for the love, and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get out of there with all four kids and your sanity) and then they don't behave and they still get a treat then you lost. Your kid will never behave because they always get the treat no matter what.
So, if you are looking for ways to help your grocery store shopping go better try letting the kids have lists and try plain ole' bribery. Every kid loves a sugar-free lollipop (that's what our grocery stores here in Austin have, b/c we're all hippies) at the end of the grocery store trip. Believe me, they hate grocery shopping with you as much as you hate doing it with them.
I was feeling really good about myself the other day as I checked out and the checker was commenting on how good my kids were behaving. He asked my secret and I told him it was the sugar free lollipops and string cheese that they are offered for good behavior from me each time. He smiled, chuckled and handed me four lollipops for free. He said they were on him for the day.
Stating clear expectations for behavior with rewards and consequences before going to the grocery store is NOT bribery. Also if you consistently enforce the consequence when needed that teaching acceptable behavior. Bribery is when a child refuses to comply and a reward is offered at that point,