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Grocery shopping as a mom and caregiver can be stressful. Stop dreading the store and use these tips to make grocery shopping easier on everyone.
Grocery shopping used to be one of my favorite activities. Walking quietly through the aisles with a latte and my favorite music playing in my headphones. Being around people but not really having to interact (an introverts dream!). Judgmentally observing parents struggle with their kids (we’ve all done it!) and determining that would never happen to me.
And then I had kids.
No one prepares you for shopping with kids because there is no way to predict shopping meltdowns. You can be strolling calmly through the aisles and without warning your three-year-old throws herself on the floor screaming.
What happened? All was well two seconds ago.
The kids “need” everything they see. Every few seconds one of them darts off usually right when you need to read product information or consult your hastily written list.
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Once you reach the check-out lane you breathe a sigh of relief because you can see the finish line. You’re home free, right?
Now they’re contained and they don’t like it. The groceries are being loaded onto the belt and they didn’t want that to happen. And I’d like to know where I complain about them putting toys and candy bars on those end-caps right next to the checkout !
We finally make it through only to have to get to the car and load everything up which presents us with the age-old question of which gets loaded first, the kids or the groceries?
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Shopping As A Caregiver
When I became a caregiver for my MIL, I thought shopping would be easier with her. She could help me handle the kids or even split the list with me to make it faster. I was actually excited to go on our first shopping trip.
Our first stop when we entered the store was produce. She immediately peeled a banana and ate it. I was shocked! We had not paid for that banana. She assured me we would pay for it at the end. I asked her how, bananas are a weighed fruit.
Next came the avocados. She tried to peel one of those too. I was mortified! Every aisle junk food was tossed into the basket. Cookies. Cereal bars. Sodas. It seemed like she had the mentality of if she saw it she wanted it no matter what it was or what the price.
About halfway through, she said she needed to go to the bathroom. I breathed a sigh of relief and told her where the restroom was and where she could find me when she was done.
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After twenty minutes went by and with extremely restless kids in tow, I started looking for her. I searched the entire store, panic growing with every step. Finally, as I was walking up to customer service to report a missing person, I found her sitting among books and magazines blissfully reading. She had no memory of where she was going, where she had been, or where I told her to meet me. Seeing the books, she just decided read a while.
A Harsh Reality
I wish I could say this is all an elaborate exaggeration or a bunch of shopping trips lumped together for dramatic effect. Sadly, this is the norm for most parents and caregivers making shopping just another chore to be dreaded.
Make Shopping Easier
The first five tips are things you can do before you ever leave the house. The last five are how to make things easier during your trip. These are things I do *almost* every time I schedule a shopping trip. Before you become overwhelmed, let me assure you that once you get started, it becomes easier and easier.
Before you go to the store:
Get a sitter or wait for your spouses day off.
This is my top tip for shopping with less stress. I know this might seem silly to you, but almost every week I wait for Saturday when my husband can stay home with the kids and my MIL so I can go to the store by myself. I’m not as stressed and we save money because there are no “surprises” in the cart at checkout. Some weeks it’s just not possible and if that’s you too, continue reading.
Create a menu.
One of the best things I have done is create a menu. I plan every meal, snack, and beverage. I do a weekly list and decide the night before what will be prepared the next day.
Keep an inventory of your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
Knowing what I have on hand has been extremely helpful in easing the stress of shopping. It seems like every time I walk through the store I see something that I typically purchase but I can’t remember if we have at home. Having an inventory lets me quickly consult my list and avoid having four jars of peanut butter in our pantry.
Make a detailed list and stick to it.
After I create my menu and consult my inventory, I make my list. It’s detailed down to the number of each banana and pound of ground beef. I organize it by aisle and save it to my phone.
Check sales and coupons before you get in the store.
Most stores have everything online. Some even have an app for you to store your coupons. Spending a few minutes before you even leave the house checking what is on sale against your list will be a game changer for your shopping trip and your budget
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While you’re at the store:
Get to the store as early as possible.
It’s a simple rule, the earlier you go the less people you have in the store with you. It makes it so much easier on your nerves especially if you need to take your loved ones with you. Make it at a time when you and your charges are not rushed, tired, or hungry.
Give everyone a job before you go inside.
My two older kids are my “gofers”. I tell them which item to get and they fetch it for me. When my MIL goes with us, she’s my cart-pusher and list manager. Giving everyone a task helps keep them focused and motivated to behave. At checkout the kids help load the belt while my MIL becomes keeper of the coupons.
Make your shopping slow but steady.
Rushing causes you to miss items and then end up crisscrossing the store frantically. When you’re shopping with small children and the elderly, the more you rush about the crankier everyone gets. By methodically and steadily move through the store, checking your list frequently your trip will end faster and with everyone in tolerable moods.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This took me a long time to realize. I don’t like to be a burden to others or take help from people who “really need” it. One day I had a revelation that with my loved ones in tow and a basket full of groceries, I really needed it! It was such a relief to not have to push a full cart to the van while trying to keep everyone safe in the parking lot. While I was getting everyone buckled, someone else was loading my groceries in the van. It was a beautiful experience!
Offer rewards for good behavior.
One of my fondest memories of shopping with my mom is going to the soda machine and getting a drink as we were walking out. It is a tradition I happily continue, especially when I’m shopping with all four of my charges. Let’s face it, after a stressful but successful shopping trip, you deserve a reward too!
Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. With planning, simple preparation, and some in-store strategy you make your shopping trips easier even when you need to bring everyone along.
Did you like this post? What are your strategies for making shopping trips easier when you have to bring everyone along? Let me know in the comments below!
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