Have you ever tried to coupon shop with kids in tow? It can be a vexing experience and when you’re done, you might feel like you’re about to lose your mind. Instead of throwing in the towel, here are some tips to make your shopping experience smoother for both you and your children.
Go at the Right Time
Avoid shopping at times when the store will be busy. Just before dinner time when people are getting off work is probably not your best bet. You’ll save yourself some stress if you shop at non-peak times.
You’ll also want to make sure the time you pick to shop is good for your kids. Go shopping right after a meal, when kids are less likely to be hungry. Grocery shopping first thing in the morning or right after a nap will also help you avoid meltdowns.
Before going into the store, tell the children (if they are old enough to understand) what your expectations are. Be very specific. “We are going to go shopping. You are not to ask for ANYTHING. You are to hold onto the cart as we walk around. We will leave when we are done.” You get the point. Setting expectations before setting foot into the store can only help your cause.
I will admit it; I am a briber, especially when I am grocery shopping. Little ones grabbing your coupons, throwing unwanted items in the cart and asking for items throughout the store is stressful! After prepping kids, I will often throw in the bribe. Whether it is a treat from the store or a special privilege, like a trip to the park, it gives you leverage when you’re trying to survive a shopping trip.
Let Them Help
If a child has a job, they tend to stay a more focused on the task at hand. I give a capable child the job of holding the coupons. As I find the items I want, I hand the clipped coupons to a child to put in an envelope until it is time to give them to a cashier. Your kids might really enjoy placing items into the cart, giving the “go-ahead” at the end of an aisle that it is “safe” to turn the corner, looking for specific items, etc. You can also ask them what they want to help with so they have some input.
Make it Educational
Give kids tasks that will help them learn while you shop. For example, ask “How much will I pay for these apples that are $.89/lb when I am buying 2 pounds?” You can also use a shopping trip to teach nutrition. Ask kids to read the labels for different brands of the same product to determine which brand is the healthiest. You can teach your kids the power of using coupons by having them figure out how much you will pay for an item after a coupon discount.
If you are excited to go shopping with your kids, they are more likely to be happy. Play games like “I spy” as you shop. Play detective and give kids clues about the items on your shopping list. See if they can guess what the item is. Use your creativity and make the drudgery of coupon shopping with kids a fun experience.
It’s never ideal to shop with kids and it’s certainly not easy, but with a little planning and the right attitude you can get out of the grocery store with your sanity in tact. Keep your expectations for the shopping trip low and just enjoy the ride.