Surviving and Thriving Through The Stores

All great adventures begin with putting on a coat, or so 18 month old Christopher was convinced. He would bring me his coat, eyes pleading me to put it on him. He knew that once it was on something truly exciting would insue, be it exploring the front yard or a mission to the local grocery store. He now considers shoes the beginning of all adventures, but not much has changed. Life is an adventure for him and he takes it all in. He enjoys things I hardly remember to notice. I could learn a thing or two from him, especially when it comes down to a trip to the grocery store. If putting on a coat and shoes makes it an adventure, full of exciting turns, a trip in the vroom, and maybe even hearing the cool toilet at wal-mart FLUSH, then I guess errands are something to enjoy. Except the toilet flushing, I will stubbornly remain unamazed by it, but will consent to enjoying my son’s reaction to it.

I remember trips to the grocery store with my mom. It was exciting. Though sometimes my MOM WOULD GET 100 DOLLARS WORTH OF GROCERIES. It was borderline ridiculous to my little mind. Over the years though, it had lost it’s appeal. It became a drudgery. I had to take Christopher, get everything ready, put him in the car, then drag him around the store. I returned exhausted, shopping with Christopher was such a headache. Until I realized, it did not need to be. What if… I set out… to enjoy myself. What if… I determined… to not be stressed and hurried. What if… I determined… to realize everyone at the store had a story and a smile and kind word just might make their day. 

I became purposeful to not only SURVIVE shopping with little kids, but to thrive while doing it. 
I’m not going to say I never have stressful trips to the store, or that I went out of my way to take my kids shopping while Mark was unemployed, but with my new mission in hand our trips became much more pleasant. 
Here are a few of the things I do to make shopping with little kids, not only not stressful, but beneficial.
Have the right attitude, a joyful attitude. Take joy in being able to shop with little kids. Pray for the joy, and take it to the LORD! Know that you are serving your family by completing those errands. Embrace the opportunity to make a little trip an adventure, just like it can be for your kids use the time as a time to teach and grow. Learn and grow through life. Kids are like little sponges, they soak up whatever you give to them. A rotten attitude seeping from you does not show itself as a joyful attitude in your children. 
Try not to be rushed. Go during times when you won’t be rushed. Kids are rather slow by nature. That display with a cartoon character might not be that exciting to you, but don’t brush off that it might be exciting to them. Be willing to be shown things by your kid and even discuss them. No, you might not have an hour and you might need to set boundaries, but try and be purposeful to not have a rushed and hurried attitude. My simple decision to not be super rushed in the store has made all the difference in lowering the stress of grocery shopping. Instead of trying to get out of the store as quickly as possible, I go at a much more leisurely pace, my sanity thanks me.
Be willing to bless. It never fails, when we go to the store, SOMEONE will stop and comment about my “cute kids”. 60% of the time it is an older gentleman and after that is the grandmotherly type character. Honestly, they always seem lonely, ready and willing to strike up a conversation and enjoy the bright smiles of some of the best joy givers, little kids. By not being in a hurry, there is no reason to not stop and be polite talking to them for a few minutes. I am convinced it makes their day. Yes, I am biased about my kids and think they are adorable, but I do not think that makes it any less true that they have the potential of bringing joy to people’s lives with a simple smile and perhaps a wave. Natalia specifically has had it spoken over her that she is a source of joy, and I heartily believe it.
Remember, everyone you encounter is made in God’s image. They desire true love, and as God’s beautiful creation they should have our respect. If we are in such a hurry that we brush off people, not willing to stand there for a few minutes talking to them, where do our priorities lie? This is probably the number one reason I strive to not be in a hurried, rushed, stressed frame of mind. 
Be willing to bless your kids with the trip also. Remember, it can be an adventure. Set out with the intention of not making it a stressful time, and pray that God helps with that, because you will need HIS strength. 
Be willing to learn, and teach. As is true with most life happenings, shopping has great learning potential. Be determined, which begins with willingness, to use teachable moments. We might count bananas as we put them in a bag. Christopher learns to help me by putting things into our bags after checking out, if we are at Aldi anyway. The biggest lessons I try to teach though is to be polite to others. Christopher is instructed to say “hi” to those who stop by and say “hi” to us, ect.  
Take a snack. It really helps keep the peace. It does not even need to be a fancy snack. Last trip to the store I cut up some korn (yes, that is the correct spelling, it is a heavy german bread) bread into cubes. It really helped curve the “i snat” whines with every passing box of crackers, cookies, and raisins. 
Don’t forget your sling, or other baby carrier. Remember what might happen if you do…  Keep a spare in your trunk! I do not use mine as much now since Natalia is old enough for the cart, and prefers it. But, I still make sure to have one in case she is tired. 

Don’t go during nap time. I know I really don’t have to tell you that, but what list on grocery shopping with littles would be complete without that. 
Don’t go during lunch time. Same thing… tired hungry kid sitting in a cart walking by all sorts of food…
Go during slow hours. If you possibly can go in the morning while the store is less crowded. Much easier to not be stressed!!!!! 
Take a list. Don’t try to navigate the store and make decisions while there, that is a recipe for stress. Menu plan and make a list. I do not write down everything on my list, for example I might just write down “fruit” or “vegetables” and how many meals I need them for, that way I can get sales. 
Shop online. Since I do a lot of my shopping online and at farms, I am able to feel less rushed at the store. I am getting about half the things I would be otherwise. Instead of making an hour trip in 45 minutes, I am making a 30 minute trip in 45. 
Teach the concept of past tense… so your sorta potty training kid won’t say “I pee! I pee!” leading you to the decision to take both of your kids out of the cash register line, and into a somewhat nasty bathroom, to find out he meant “I peed”. That one might take a while… 
Do you shop with little kids? What is your best advise for it. 

Traveling to Mars

It was a mission to mars, and they took it seriously. They worked on their mission tirelessly for 30 minutes. It was mostly a game made up by my baby sister, Abby, but Christopher heartily participated. He ran through the house, wearing his box helmet exclaiming “bye!” excitement oozing out of him!

Don’t let that car fool you, it is a rocket ship.

Don’t let that tire fool you either, it is a space shuttle. Why is there a tire in my den? I keep meaning to ask Mark, but now I know it is to help my space traveling dears. I wish I could remember what the red block was… a lazer beam perhaps?

Why is it we feel kids need constant entertainment and fancy toys? I am pretty sure the frequent gift of “boredom” will be a gift they don’t even realize they were given. Especially with a friend (aunt, sibling, cousin, neighbor) around.


  1. I agree!! I think teaching how to deal with boredom is a long lost skill in parents, and I believe a lot of parents think it’s their “job” not to let their kids ever get bored. This is a mistake, and I think it cripples our children! Thanks for posting!