Saturday, October 17, 2009

Please don't smash the bread...

image from

I remember running errands with a good friend of mine when I was childless. I was amazed at how much longer everything took. Just getting out of the car was three times the effort I was used to. So when I had my first child I expected this slow down to my routine, but we still went out often. My first son was my best shopping buddy. He still does pretty well if it is just him and me because I have enough wits to listen to what he is saying and interact with him. What I didn't anticipate was how much slower two kids are, especially when one of them is an infant. At first as I learned to juggle two I spent most of the time on damage control duty rather than active listening, teaching, and loving of my errands were dreadful if my baby was awake and not napping in his car seat. I have improved a bit but I still have to gear up big time to go to the store and run most errands. If I am not in an energetic mood I try to skip the trip {if I can} and wait for my husband to watch the kids so I can go alone. It is that much more work with two...for me anyway.

I thought maybe you all would have some tips to make running errands a little easier.

Does this get easier with more than one child as they get older?

Is shopping this much of an effort for you?

How do you keep them from smashing the food (if you are grocery shopping), running amuck, and/or hitting each other? Or in other words, what do you do to keep everyone sane at the store or *gasp* even happy?

{Am I chasing a flying unicorn in this request? :)}

Would love to hear from you...


Megan said...

For now I only have on child, but if we are grocery shopping my husband is with me and he pushes the cart and entertains the child and I find everything. If it's just me, I try to have a game plan before hand. If I don't, I am so frazzled by the end of my errands that it's not worth it to go. I also try to have something small that can entertain Lucas that if he loses, oh well. However, sometimes it is just easier to wait for my hubby to come home and go run my errands by myself.

Alyssa Harper said...

I also only have one child, but I remember that my mother would take all four of her young children with her when grocery shopping (my dad was gone with work a lot). One thing that my mother did was play games with us. I honestly can't remember any examples, but you can find ideas anywhere. I googled for approximately 5 seconds and found this site:

My mother had rules and enforced them. Like having to stay in the same aisle that she was in and not taking anything off the shelves...otherwise the shopping trip was over. Even in a desperate cuboard situation, she could make a pantry meal for one more night and go shopping again another day without the problem child (arranging a baby-sitter or dad to stay home with them). Grocery shopping was fun for us, and a much looked forward to event, so we usually behaved.

On The Go Family said...

I do my best to go shopping without both kids. Even if they make it through the store happily, we usually run into problems during checkout. And my kids are 5 and 3!

If I do have to take both, I put one in the cart and have one walk -- thereby splitting them up by a few feet. I hate those carts that seat two that place them facing each other -- they are just a fight waiting to happen. If we're at Costco and they both want to sit in the cart and someone misbehaves, I pull that child out and make him or her walk. It's punishment enough to keep them following the rules!

Other ideas -- ask your kids what things they want to get before they go to the store. I include my kids in picking out which produce to buy (thereby making it more likely that they'll eat it) and also let them pick among a few different kinds of bread, etc. I think giving them some ownership/control (or at least making them FEEL like they have some) goes a long way.

Shopping is a great time to teach kids about money. One time I asked my daughter to pick up the graham crackers for me and she said: "But is it a good price?" It wasn't until after I reassured her that it was that she was willing to put it in our cart. We talk about coupons, savings, store brands, deals, etc all the time and it really seems to have affected her mind set. Hopefully we're laying the groundwork for a fiscally responsible child. A parent can only hope!

Universitybabe said...

On a grocery shopping trip think ahead--think about a handfull of items that would be eye level for your child and then assign them to not let you forget to buy xxx. If you are really good you could prepare a list using labels from your pantry--so they will know what their items will look like. I have taken all four on my own several times--I definatly prefer to only take this lazy bag of bones. What works for me when I have all four--by the way there is no cart that holds 4. Two walk and two ride. Baby and toddler ride. Baby stays in carseat, toddler rides in regular cart but not in the seat part. I can't chase him and shop, period. If he is in the seat he gets board and he is restricted whereas the basket part of the cart allows him to turn to look at something more or sort things that we are buying instead of just watch me. If he stands up--we go home. Unless I happen to be nice and walk past the toys--then I am partially blind. (I don't get them anything usually but they want to see and touch and I know my job is to just supervise curiosity in that isle. The two older kids walk--If they leave the isle we are on, we go home just like was said above. If I bribe (somedays it is easier) than I stick to the rules I set in the bribe. When I get the "will you buy this question or the can I have?" question I smile, pretend I really am interested and then tell them that would be fun but not today we came for... can you help me find it. I run my errands or get the boring stuff first. If they misbehave we are leaving out what they came to get. Like was also mentioned above talk about money, labels, tags, signs, people you see... Have them make a chart of how many people they talk to, or how many boys vs. girls they saw.
I take the theory that Vegas lives by (I think it was Pavlovs Dogs) about randome rewards being the hardest addiction to break. I don't want my children to expect to be rewarded everytime we step into a store so I don't often buy them anything specifically. Once in a while I will sneek something in the cart for the car or when we get home.
I avoid at all costs going when my children are tired or have attitude. Sometimes when hubby accompanies me we tell the children that if they misbehave they will sit in the car with one of us instead of help.
As they get older yes, it gets easier because their little bodies can hold still longer and take on deeper thougt processes.
occassionally I have to set myself time limits--I can only be in this or that store so long before my kids get too chaotic. Grocery shopping usually is fast paced but other shopping takes longer. I am not a shopaholic so this wasn't too hard. I have one child who will sit down and read while I shop (thank Heaven) So I pack a book. Awknowledgeing that you understand they are trying hard not to live in an adult world wins lonts of points with my kids.
I will never forget my grandmother racing my mother in a parking lot pushing kids in carts--show the kids that they don't have to be all serious all the time but that there is a time and place to be silly. And you are willing to be silly with them if they will be willing to behave appropriatly with you when it is not such a time. Sorry this is so long--lots of first hand experience. Oh, one more thing--the bread ALWAYS gets smashed, if not by my kids than by the sales clerk who either doesn't have a clue or is too busy to really think much about it.

Kym, Shaun and Riley said...

I only have one child and it seems like it takes me forever to get things done. But I was watching Studio 5 on KSL once and they had a section devoted to entertaining your kids while grocery shopping. I can't find the story, but they talked about doing an Alphabet find where you and your kids look for items that you need to buy that have the ABCs on them from A-Z. Now this might not work out so well for Reid, but I think Owen might be interested in it.
As for speeding up the errand process, I'm interested to know what other people have to say.

Chris and Laura said...

My second daughter is only two weeks old, and needless to say, we haven't run a whole lot of errands yet with both kids...but I do have a few tricks that might be helpful.

I write my grocery list in order of how I walk through the store. I know generally where everything is in the store I always go to and I follow the same basic path through the store every time I go shopping. If my list is organized by this path, then I am much less likely to forget something and thus don't spend extra time going back for things I forgot when they were close.

For other random errands, I try to split them up into different trips. Personally, I would rather take one day and spend however many hours getting all my errands done in one shot. With kids, though, I find it better to split things up over two or three days. That way, the kids don't get too tired or ornery because the trip is fairly short. And it gives us something to do more often to get us out of the house.

I also try to make sure I don't do any wasted errands. For example, if I am going to the library to get a specific book, I will check online or call first to make sure the book is there. I don't want to show up at the library with two kids only to find that the book I wanted isn't available. Checking ahead can save a lot of headaches.

I'm glad you posted this, Delia. I've been wondering about this same thing. It's nice to have advice before I've done the trial and error thing on my own!

Chris and Laura said...

P.S. If anyone is still interested, the link to the Deseret News article on swine flu is posted in the comments for the Swine Flu discussion. It's very informative.

Diane said...

Here is a fun article I found. Delia, you are so interactive with your kids, I think this fits you perfectly! I would also love to use some of these as my kids get a little older. :)

Jessie said...

I have 2 kids, a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 1/2 year old. I work the cart situation by having my younger sit in the seat of the cart, and the older sit/stand in the cart. I try to keep her sitting down, but honestly, I don't have the time or energy to make another trip out to the store, so if she stands, she just gets a reprimand, which is usually enough to get her to sit. If I am buying a sturdy box of anything, though, I try to place it where she can sit on it, and she pretends it is her special seat/throne/whatever, which makes her more inclined to sit.

When my youngest was a baby, I'd keep her in the carseat, and place it sideways across the end of the cart, and have my toddler sit in the seat. I definitely think things have gotten easier as they've gotten older and I've gotten into my own sort of rhythm. They're easier to distract when they understand what I'm talking about, and can search for things (like if they need distraction, I'll ask them to look for a picture of a dog, or a specific letter, or color, or whatever). We talk about numbers, prices, colors, pictures--anything to keep them busy, and really, to teach them basic concepts. I also ask my older daughter to try to remember a few things we need, which makes her feel important and included. The more I can involve them, the better they behave. If they do exceptionally well, we might pick up a treat at the checkstand, or buy something out of the quarter machines just inside the entrance to the store--my older daughter in particular really loves this, and while I know that it isn't any great deal to get a handful of skittles for a quarter, it is worth it to me if she is trying hard to be good, and she is so happy to get them.

Oh, and our bread always gets smashed, too. I'm thinking about putting it under the cart, though. Then I just have to make sure it gets bagged well, and placed in a good spot in the trunk... ugh. :) Good luck.

Jes said...

I also only have one child...(until may *wink*) so I also dont have a lot of tried advice, but I do think that taking the spouse helps. Dan and I have just always grocery shopped together (I guess just one of those rare times we can find time to be together?) and now its just the normal, so I think that the idea Alyssa said of having them contain the children while you shop would be similar to our strategy :)