How to Stay Sane at the Supermarket: (As seen on WFLA News Channel 8)

Follow Up from segment with WFLA News Channel 8:

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We all know errands are best done sans kids.  Everything is faster, less hectic and we can actually concentrate on the task at hand instead of praying that no one has a meltdown in public.

Shopping cartUsually, I save my supermarket shopping for Monday mornings, when everyone is at school.  I am in and out quickly and efficiently.  Sundays used to be my day, even though it’s the most crowded day to shop, because I wanted to take advantage of help with unloading and unpacking.  At one point, we actually all went as a family.  I know, sounds crazy, but when you have a traveling hubby, you want to try to take advantage of family time, no matter what the event is.

Since the kids had off for President’s Day, I had the option of taking them with me to do the weekly shop.  My husband was home so I could have easily left to take my ‘supermarket vacation’, but I didn’t want to go alone this time.  What is wrong with me you may ask?  Well, I actually don’t mind taking my kids shopping with me (I may need you to remind me I said that in the future).  I wouldn’t do it every week but if they are around, I figure, why not?  Yes, it’s more work and less productive, but I have fun with them.  Today my two year old was napping and my husband was catching up on some R&R, so I went ahead and asked (bribed) the older boys to accompany me.  What was their incentive?  It would be fun.  The supermarket could be fun?  Yes…fun!

Since they recently had dessert/treats taken away for less than stellar behavior, I had to figure out a way to make it worth their while.  I quickly came up with an entertaining and interactive game that would involve competition, manners and lots of laughter.  So here’s how it all went down:

  • Every aisle would have its’ own challenge that would be worth one point.
  • In addition, there could be flash challenges at any moment, worth one or multiple points.
  • Each child would need to reach ten points by the time we reached the bakery section.
  • As a reward, they would receive the free cookie.
  • If they exhibited any bad behavior, a point would be taken away.

I admit that I was flying by the seat of my pants as I had nothing planned, but knew I would find inspiration in every aisle.

The first task would be to locate a product that was purple that also had the letter P in the name.  While the boys got ready for their first mission, I noticed there were sporadic grey tiles on the floor.  I quickly added that they could only step on these grey tiles until we reached the end of the aisle.  Lastly, they would have to complete five jumping jacks each.  Proudly they earned their points and I noticed that shoppers had caught on to our game.  I felt a sense of pride every time someone strolled by my cart smiling at us.

My kids were laughing instead of whining and what mother doesn’t strive for that, especially at the supermarket?  I was having so much fun as well that I forgot a few items on aisle one.  Oops.

Next, whomever spotted someone in a pink shirt would receive the point.  In addition, they would each have to exhibit a good manner in aisle two.  They were embarrassed and struck out a few times, but in the end, they were saying hello and wishing customers a great day.  The boys definitely put smiles on a few people’s faces, which was wonderful to witness.  It was almost to the point of ridiculousness as to how much fun we were having in a supermarket.  We were all chuckling so loud, I felt like I was pretty much their age.  It was great.

Then came the surprise flash challenge.  “Worth one point, what is one thing that Mommy likes to hear that makes me happy?”  My oldest screamed out, “I love you” and he snagged the point.  The next challenge was worth two points and would be awarded to the one that could point out a shirt with a picture of an animal on it.  I did not know if this existed but felt confident.  A few aisles later, it did indeed and the points were adding up.

In the snack aisle, both boys had to say the alphabet with an English accent.  I will tell you what came out of their mouths was the farthest thing from an english accent but it had us cracking up.  Yes, people were staring but always with a smile on their face.  We actually ran into a friend of mine and the boys told her about our game.

The next flash challenge was offered to the child who could tell me one of many ways to earn back their dessert.  My eight year old said it was important to be kind and my six year old said that when an adult speaks to us, we need to listen and answer in a respectful way.  Points for everyone!

By the time we got to the cookie area, they had gone way past their required ten points, even with losing a few here and there.  I was a proud Mama and they were proud of themselves.  Did I forget one or ten items and perhaps not pay such great attention to the real purpose of going to the market?  Yes, but it was well worth it.  I even got the boys to admit they actually had fun at the supermarket with me.  In fact, on the way to school this morning, my son asked when we could go shopping again.  I would say that constitutes as supermarket success!

As a parent, we can get as creative as we want.  There are really no rules.  When we make normally boring situations amusing, everyone ends up having fun.  Whether your child is having a major meltdown in aisle nine or is skipping while counting backwards in aisle twelve, you are going to gain attention from those around you.  Personally, I would rather have someone be impressed with me as a parent, than pity me.  I think we can all agree embarrassment went out the door in the delivery room!

Have fun at your next supermarket outing!