If you missed it, read Part 1 of How to Shop With Little Children here.
After my third child was born, I waited a few weeks to try shopping with all three at the store at once. When I finally did, I realized that it was doable, but it was a lot of work. In fact, it felt more like a three-ring circus act I was trying to oversee.
“Be careful, you’re going to smoosh the whole loaf of bread.”
“Sit down in the cart, please.”
“No, honey, we’re not going to buy those. Put them back on the shelf.”
“Please do not push your sister.”
“Has anyone seen the coupon for the ice cream? It was just right here.”
We’re working on first-time cheerful obedience, but we’ve far from completely mastered it at our house. And I’ve decided that I’d rather choose other places than the grocery store to work on child-training right now.
I know there might be women reading this who are just shaking their head in disbelief that I can’t get my act together as you effortlessly shop at five stores every week with your seven children under four. More power to you!
But personally, I don’t find it easy to shop at multiple stores, use coupons and bring three children with me. So instead of beating myself up over this, I’ve decided to rethink my Grocery Shopping Gameplan for our current season of life.
1. Simple is Good
To be perfectly honest, since having three children, I’ve cut way back on shopping and using coupons. Whereas it wasn’t uncommon at all for me to shop at four to five (or even more!) stores many weeks back in the earlier years of our marriage, I now rarely go to more than two stores in one week.
I try to have one or two weeks each month where I put forth some concentrated effort on stockpiling and then I usually stick with the barebones shopping the other two to three weeks, occasionally even skipping shopping entirely for a week (outside of a few things like milk).
We’re keeping our meals extremely simple, too, so that makes shopping easier as well. We usually just have oatmeal or cold cereal for breakfast, smoothies of some sort for a mid-morning snack, veggies/fruit and some kind of protein for lunch, and for dinner we just rotate between a beef or chicken for the main dish, and have salad, fruit and maybe some bread made in the bread machine for sides. Other snacks are usually yogurt, cereal, fruit, veggies, muffins (from the freezer), hard-boiled eggs, protein bars, peanut butter toast or something else which is equally simple.
I know that this menu plan probably wouldn’t work for many people as it’s just so Plain Jane and redundant, but my husband is happy, the children are happy and we’re eating a balanced, nutritious diet (well, at least it works for us and we feel energetic and healthy!).
2. Flexibility is Key
Instead of having one afternoon a week dedicated to marathon shopping, I’m learning to be more flexible and stick with fitting in shorter shopping trips whenever they fit in. If we’re going to be getting together with friends on the other side of town, I might swing by a store while we’re out. Or, if we have a free evening and my husband gets home early, I might run out to do a quick shopping trip with one child after dinner while my husband is home with the other two.
Some weeks, we have a free afternoon, I’m feeling energetic and things are running pretty smoothly so I’ll load up all the kids and we go do a marathon shopping trip. However, freeing myself up from feeling obligated to do a big stock-up trip with all the children every single week has been so helpful.
While we might not be as stocked up on everything as we once-upon-a-time were and while there are weeks when I feel like I wish I were more organized and always did the shopping on the same day like I used to do, rolling with the punches and fitting shopping in when it works is getting us by.
3. Help is Wonderful
I think the biggest shift in my thinking about grocery shopping (and life in general) since having three children has been that it’s okay to accept help. After Silas was born and I was struggling a great deal with postpartum depression, my husband hired a wonderful young lady from church to start coming over one day each week and helping our family. This has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and I’d highly recommend something like this to every mom who has young children!
Our helper comes over each Tuesday and does laundry, cleaning and whatever else I need done. After our morning school lessons are finished, I’ll often take one of the girls with me on a quick shopping trip while our helper stays with the other children and feeds them lunch/plays with them. It gives me the opportunity to get some quality one-on-one time with a child and also allows me to get some efficient grocery shopping done!
In addition, Jesse’s step-grandma comes over every Thursday morning to spend time with us and I’ll occasionally run errands or do some grocery shopping while she’s here, too. And on those really busy weeks, Jesse also will gladly stop by the store — sometimes even taking some (or all!) of the children with him!
Creative Alternatives to Hiring a Babysitter So You Can Go Grocery Shopping
If hiring a babysitter or helper is not an option and you don’t have family nearby, don’t despair! Here are some other ideas:
::Swap With a Friend — Know another young mom who is also struggling with grocery shopping with young children? How about asking her if she’d like to swap babysitting with you so you can both get your shopping done each week?
::Shop With Your Husband — If your husband is game, find a time that works to shop when he can come along with you. It can make it much easier for you and can be a fun outing, too!
::Shop When Your Husband is Home –If there’s a time which works out for your family, consider shopping when your husband is home and able to watch your children.
::Bring a Friend/Helper Along — If you have a friend who’d love to spend time with you and would willingly be an extra set of hands, ask her about coming along with you. If you have a few quick in-and-out trips, perhaps she could even just sit in the car with your children while you run in. Or, if you know a mature teenage girl who is looking for a small part-time job, you could ask her to come along with you. For a small hourly pay, you may be able to provide a lot more sanity to your shopping trips.
While these things I’ve learned might be helpful to some of you, there are others of you who have no alternative but to shop every week with little children. So for those of you, stay tuned for tomorrow’s post for my ideas and tricks for pulling off a successful shopping trip with young children in tow. And come prepared to share your tips, too. (I already know that my readers are going to have dozens of amazing ideas to share!)
Do you have a creative alternative to hiring a babysitter not listed? Have you changed your gameplan when it comes to shopping as a result of having young children? I’d love to hear your thoughts and input!
photo by AlwaysBreaking