Whew! Don't ask me what my hubby and I were thinking when we decided to take all three little ones (4 years old, 23 months old, and 16 days old) out to visit Great-Grandma and then to Dillons, Aldi, and Target for groceries. We're typically a little overly-ambitious and I think today was no different.
That said, we did make it through all four stops, plus a stop at Sonic for Happy Hour half-priced drinks. But I wouldn't say it was the smoothest outing ever. And I certainly don't think I'm quite ready to tackle three stores with three children all by myself–at least not until Silas gets a little better nursing schedule (he's currently nursing every two hours for 30-45 minutes–which adds up to a lot of time spent nursing!) and I'm a bit more back to my normal stamina and energy!
It's funny, though, how your perspective changes. I remember when taking one child out seemed like a big undertaking. Now that seems like a vacation! So, hopefully soon, juggling three little ones and coupon-shopping will be old hat. Maybe. 🙂
At any rate, it was a fun adventure and we scored some pretty good deals. Here's what we ended up with:
All totaled, at Dillons, Aldi, and Target, we spent right at $31 for all of this! Of course, I did have $9 in Target gift cards that I used (earned from previous deals), so our total would have been $40 had it not been for those.
I was especially excited with the deals we snagged at Target:
All that pictured above was only $3.06 after the coupons and $9 in gift cards. Sweet!
After not grocery shopping myself for quite some time, I was happy to have a successful shopping trip–even if I haven't quite mastered the art of juggling three little ones, nursing every two hours, and my coupon box. I'm hoping I'll eventually get that all figured out… maybe?
What are your tricks and tips for shopping with multiple little ones? I'd love to hear!
Crystal – I was wondering what you’re monthly budget for groceries are in terms of a percentage of your overall budget (i.e. not in dollars). I have been working on our budget for groceries, and since I live in an expensive part of the country (southern CA), I know the dollar amount will be different. I figure a way to equalize this is to just ask what your percentage is. As I’ve figured it, our grocery percentage is about 8% – 10% of our budget. I was wondering how this stacks up to yours (and others). Thanks for answering if you happen to have a second with your new baby! 🙂
It will get easier as the older ones get older. They can still help so much at their ages! I have six children ages 6 months, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 years. I almost always have all of them with me when I go shopping or anywhere for that matter. It can be a challenge especially if you have lots of stores to go to. I let the older ones help with the shopping. I also make sure I take plenty of snacks which are eaten in the car. I have never made it a point to let my children eat at the store unless it is a sample or something of that nature. They know we do not eat anything we put into our buggy until we are in the van or at home. I also still nurse my 6 month old, which makes for a challenge as well. I usually have snacks and the older ones will read bookls to the younger ones while I feed the baby. If you can leave the children at home, that is great, but I do not have that option very often. If behavior is a problem, have pretend grocery trips at home in order to clarify behavior away from home. Let the older girls participate in the shopping. Since we homeschool, my older ones are required to do some math at the store. It usually involves calculating the cost of certain items or weighing produce etc. All of them are on the lookout for Manager’s Special tags or clearance items at any store we go to and they also always look for free samples. One of the most difficult parts with 6 children is where to put all of them! Usually, I can fit them into the Wal-Mart buggy which has the two seats in the front. WE pretty much fill up all the other buggies, so my 7 year old will usually push a buggy for the groceries while I push the one with the babies and my coupons! It is also not easy getting them all into the store either. Fortunately, my children are well behaved and well liked by all the cashiers and other employees of the stores we frequent. So, they are always giving them special treats. I also have lived in the same area all my life and know many of the employees personally which makes it easy if I need to leave the kids with someone for a minute while I go back to the car for something. Going to the bathroom poses challenges too. My oldest son who is 7 takes the boys in the men’s room and I take the girls in the women’s room. I am usually very exhausted when I come home from the store and make sure that I have something premade for supper! Hang in there! I am sure it will get easier for you overtime, you seem able to handle anything!
Carol Wright says
Advice for shopping with multiple little ones: I shop with my 19 month old and 2 month old. I use a binder for my coupons and typically use a sling to put my 19 month old on my back and talk to my 2 month old in hiss carsesat as we go through the store. We also sometimies carry toys into the store to play with but one of the most entertaining things for my daughter is to borrow one of the stores books and let her look at it as we shop then put it back before wecheck out. She is very careful with the books and she stays entertained.
I have four kids and know all too well how hard it can be to match coupons to sales when you have four little voices talking in your ear. It is possible thoug – just be prepared to spend a little more time in the store 🙂
I usually do the shopping with my 4 yr, 2 yr and 9 month old. One tip I have is that our Target and Walmart both have large carts with added seats for toddlers. I strap my toddlers into the two todder seats and I put the baby in the baby seat of the cart. This way they’re all contained while we are shopping. My kids call these “train” carts, and we pretend we’re driving a train around the store.
Cheryl Hamilton says
I remember shopping with the oldest (8) pushing a separate cart for food while I pushed a cart with baby & another in the cart, and two holding onto each side of the cart (5 girls). Later, I had a dear friend with 3 children who hated shopping. She watched mine & gave me her shopping order – so she babysat while I shopped for her food and mine. It worked out great! But now we live states away, so hubby babysits while I shop.
Rhonda Devine says
After having an only child for 11 years, we had 3 children in five years;) Most of the time, I took my childen with me–train them to hold onto the cart(older ones)while you have the baby in the cart. It also helped me to give a little job to the bigger ones they could help with–maybe hold the coupons or watch for a couple items they could get off the shelf. It does take a while, but soon your children will be such a blessing helping you in the store~now when I shop with my “children” who are now 14, 12, 10, they cut my time in the store so much I miss them when they’re not with me. And my 14 year old son is the best carry out boy around!
Keep at Crystal~it pays off:)
Princess Leia says
My main grocery store (Giant Food) just started letting you carry around a little scanner and shopping bags around the store. You scan the item you’re buying, then stick it in a bag. At the end of the trip, the cash register knows all the stuff you’ve scanned and check out is super fast. I give my 2-yr-old son the scanner. He loves the random noises it makes and pushing the button. I still have fears of him accidentally scanning something when I don’t notice, but I haven’t seen that happen yet. We also haven’t blinded anyone with the scanner. It keeps him occupied though and makes check-out great.
The other thing I do with him in Target is that I’ll let him out for a couple of laps around the store. He’s pretty good about stopping when I need to look at something and we always take extra laps at the end. I get exercise keeping up, he gets to “run, run, run,” and we both stay mostly sane.
I’ve only got two though and am still trying to figure out how to fit groceries in the cart with the carrier in there. We’ve ended up wearing the baby a lot lately. That is, when I have to go with them in tow. Like others, I do my best to get my shopping in when hubs is watching them.
My kids are spaced about like yours, I did it and it went well! I promise! I put baby (also Silas, btw) in a sling, toddler in the seat and preschooler walked. We did go through a time when it didn’t work and I needed to leave the kids at home. Now thery’re 8, 5 and 3 and it’s almost a breeze…almost 🙂
Oh, if you find yourself out with them and needing to nurse, go to the fitting rooms and ask for the big one. While I was never modest, it was great to have the bigger ones contained!!
Dawn (rn4jchrist) says
CONGRATS again on your little one!!!
I was wondering how much you paid for the kraft cheese!
Rebecca R. says
I have 7 children under 11 years old, and most of the time now am able to leave the majority of them home with my husband. Most weeks I only go out with the youngest (1 year old–still nursing some), and perhaps one of the older children if I so choose. However, I still sometimes need to go out with all 7 of the children. I pack water in a couple of water jugs in the van and some snacks for while we are out. I go over the rules–we stay together in the parking lots, holding hands (the 2 oldest each take responsiblity for one of the 3 year old twins, etc.), we keep together next to the cart(s) in the store, we need to listen to instructions, no going under clothing racks, etc. Our shopping trips take several hours, as I usually hit the consignment shop to sell clothing to make some money, sometimes Target, then Aldi’s, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. My children have learned over the years to have some patience while shopping, and although there are times I need to focus and regroup, considering what shopping entails, they have learned what is expected of them. Now, that does not mean that things are easy or smooth or not exhausting 🙂 , but you do learn how to make it work. A lot of times we have 2 carts–a 3 year old twin in the seat of each cart, and the 1 year old in the carseat over the back of one cart. It all works out!
When my 3 were the ages of your little ones, I put the older 2 into a toddler cart, the infant in the big part of the cart, and made several short outings throughout the week, rather than several stops in one big outing.
I shopped Aldi for awhile…I could get in and out very very quickly.
Elizabeth K says
You’re awesome! Congratulations on having the “courage” to undertake such a great endeavor–shopping with 3. I’m pregnant with my second baby and am already wondering how I’ll do the grocery shopping with 2! Are you experiencing any extreme hunger due to nursing? When I was nursing my son I would get very very hungry. He was a marathon nurser as well–every 2 hours and for 30 to 45 minutes. How do you manage that with the girls? What are your favorite “snacks” right now?
Congratulations on the new baby! My littlest just turned 2 and my oldest just turned 5. It is so hard to shop with both of them my little guy is a wild man with an attitude and is a big guy that likes to do what he wants including not riding in the cart. I do the best when I have Dad watch them and I take a late night trip or if we go to grandmas I make the run on my own. When I have the both of them I just do a small run but not the usual shopping trip because I just go crazy trying to do it!
I guess that didn’t help but congratulations again! 🙂
My children are 6, 3, and 7 mo. I have to admit, I don’t like giving snacks while we are shopping (they can learn to be content) and I don’t like letting them ride in special children carts. (I’m leary of germs-sorry!) When my youngest was a newborn, I would nurse him right in the parking lot before we went in. (Though I caused quite a stir in the Wal-Mart parking lot-long story!) Then I would have time to shop and get home before he would have to eat again. He also would sleep in his seat in the store. My other two children are very good help. I always take my children with me, it helps with learning how to behave in stores. I think it is as my sister always tells me. Moms do what they have to do! Please know that it does get easier. In the beginning, I have forgotten a few things here and there and forgot to use a coupon or two. But, each time you do a little better, get a little more organized, and don’t come home exhausted and needing a nap! 🙂
I try to avoid shopping with all three (6, 4, 2) but I perfer doiing the shopping because my husband never remembers the coupons. ALWAYS bring snacks or “surprize toys”. We like to play “ready, set, go!” I send them up and down the asle I’m on, racing eachother. Of course I try to be aware of other people shopping and we have strict rules for the game. They have to remain in my sight or the game is over. I try to keep the 2 year old in the cart. But she always wants to play. I also try to brake up the trip by a stop just for them, the library, park, or special treat so they think we went out just for them. Giving them coupons to look on the shelves for the items helps keep them occupied too. Patience…..lots of it!
Erika Billings says
I have 5 now but even when they were all little I would take them with me even with a nursing newborn I went to Walmart for a few things when he was 4 days old. It does get easier! What a trooper your husband is!! I always found it much more difficult to have him along then to just do it by myself with the children. I think there are only a few “windows” of opportunity during the day, after breakfast when they are full and after afternoon naps when they have had a snack. I used to nurse while walking around the store and no one was any wiser to it.
Congratulations on Silas! What a beautiful family you have!! Your doing a great job!!
I have two children, ages 4 and 2. Really the 2 year old is the difficult one :). I’ve brought along handheld games for them (Leapster) also, they love to look at new books, so sometimes I pick up a childrens book off the shelf and they look at it while we are shopping, and we return them to the shelf when we are done.
Tami Fox says
Crystal, I applaud you both for tackling your bargain hunting together. Since I have six children, I can say that the best advice I can give is to leave the two bigger ones home with dad or go as a family. When my 5th and 6th ones were tiny babies, I usually took an older child with me to help manage the cart and coupons. (My husband kept the others at home.) I also learned the fine art of nursing the baby in the sling while walking. On a typical shopping week now, I will take one or two children with me. We rotate who goes with me, so it is a treat for them and for me.
Another thought I have in your case might be to have one of your sisters go with you on big shopping trips, if you want to do it during the week when your husband is at work.
I rarely shop with my 21 month old triplets because it’s such a pain, but when I do…
I use our wagon instead of stuffing them all in a cart. There’s a lot less fighting this way. (I push the cart and pull the wagon.)
I always wheel them slowly past the deli counters where the cuties are routinely offered a piece of cheese or a cookie. 🙂
hi, we have 4 1/2 and 2 1/2. the containers from mentos work great for small pretzel sticks to snack on in a quick shopping outing. when the stores aren’t too busy is great also.
I don’t have any children, but I well remember “the talk” before entering a grocery store. If we asked for something in the store and mom said no we had to look her in the eye and say “okay, mommy” so that we would get over it and wouldn’t grumble about it the whole trip! Kudos to all of you moms out there who juggle kids, shopping and coupons! I’m impressed!!
I have a three kids too. 6, 3 and 1. It doesn’t get easier. Best advice…go alone. I try to take them and I always spend more, lose coupons, miss the markdown at register or something! I am always WAY more stressed at the end too. This past week was by far the most stressful outing we have had. But it was the first time I have really gotten back into couponing and stacking deals since the baby was born! And I went alone, on a holiday weekend, during prime shopping hours! My mistake. If you must take all three, I highly recommend going mid week, and early morning.
Two words: Kids Cookie. This was my first trip with all three kids, but getting the cookie at the beginning of the trip and letting the kids hold them (or having me hold them) until the end of the trip and THEN having the cookies be awarded based on behavior tends to work out really well. Problem is the drugstores which have no cookies, but in the future I think I will have a carrot that’s available for those stores.
This was the ONLY time I have ever tackled 5 stores at in a row but we all agree to space it out over a few days from now on, my kids all have some level of sensory issues and the fact that I survived the day with no meltdowns was a miracle! I didn’t hit King Soopers yet, but when I do I’ll have the penny horse as a reward as well!
I only have two children, ages 2 and 4, but what I find really really helpful is wearing my youngest on my back in a Mai Tei carrier. That leaves the front of the carriage free for my oldest to sit in, and then they are both contained.
I think shopping alone after hubby gets home works well, too- but my hubby works a lot and so when he’s home, I’d rather be spending time with him than going to the store. So, I do the shopping while he is at work.
I have 4 – 5, 4, 2, 6 months – and I agree, try not to take tham all : ). If you need to, take them all in the morning right after Silas nurses and everyone has just eaten.
I usually go at odd hours when my hubby is home and I only take 1 with me. Another suggestion, since you have family close, is to make it a date night. My, how our standards change as the family grows : ). We have my mom come over after the oldest 3 are in bed for the night so it isn’t any work for her. Going on Saturday night has worked well because we can hit CVS and Walgreens every other week and get 2 weeks worth of deals. We bring the nursling and have a few hours of uninterrupted talk time. WONDERFUL. Oh, and we get our groceries : )!
You are amazing!! I shop with one and we “shop the rim” due to a special Paleo diet. This makes our trip pretty quick. When he was tiny I used a Baby Bjorn. That made shopping so wonderful. Now that he can sit in the cart I try to make the trip interesting to him by talking to him about what I’m doing and smiling.
I have two kids, 3 1/2 and almost 2 years – my tip for you? Get the carts that have TWO SEATS to strap them in! My 3 year old doesn’t like it all that much, but he deals with it. Anything to keep them contained! 🙂
I love all the advice! We just had our third this winter and so I am new at shopping with three too! I felt like I was just getting comfortable shopping with two when the third one came:) I know a lot of people love to shop once their husbands get home but that has always been really hard for me for a few reasons: 1. the evenings are crazy 2. We really love to eat dinner together as a family 3. when we put the kids to bed I love to have that time with my husband and I feel like it’s my break after a long day too! All of that said, I get out once in a while by myself in the evenings especially when I go to Walgreens:) I’m trying to do the grocery shopping every two weeks but it’s been hard for me to make the transition from every week to every other week. It has gotten much better the last few months.
Oh, and I also print up a little picture list for the kids on card stock.(Nothing to complicated just simple and quick!) I put about 6-10 pictures on each card and they each get a crayon to mark off the item when we put it in the cart. They really feel like they are helping out and it gives them something to do.
Hope that helps. I know when I get home from our shopping day I always feel like I’ve run a marathon!
Kelly Strei says
I leave them home! LOL
My kids are 4, 6 & 8. They have never set foot in the grocery store unless I have less than 5 items to buy.
I agree with previous comments, it does get better. Someone told me that the 1st 100 days is the hardest. Looking back, I agree completely.
We have four small kids, and the fact is I did everything I could to do the shopping ALONE. I’d ask the neighbor girls to babysit, or my parents or friends. Of course Dad stayed home with them too. We’ve also had all four napping in the car, and I’d run into the store while Dad stayed with the kids. We even considered having our groceries delivered!
I usually go with my 3.5 year old and leave my 1.5 year old at home. We usually go on Saturday mornings after our trip to the library. We get a car cart, and my son is allowed to take one library book into the grocery store with him to read. We took my 1.5 year old with us last week and two books was a big hard to for them. So, I let them share a free donut (our store allows each child under 12 a free donut).
Seriously, how do you do it? I get frustrated all the time when I plan a trip (mostly based on the deals I see on your website and others) and then the store doesn’t carry those items or they are a totally different price. It stresses me out.
I have saved money on toothpaste, shampoo etc., but I want to get better at saving money on food. I have a lot of work to do. I really don’t know how you do it with 3 kids. It takes up so much of my time to plan my shopping trip and get my coupons together. I only have 2 kids and I feel like I can’t get it done.
I have a 5 and 7 y/o, and a 3-month old. It was a bit intimidating the first few times I took them out alone, but I learned to stick the baby in my wrap and he loved that, and my hands would still be free! Now that he’s on a good nursing schedule it’s a lot easier!
Like the 2 PP’s, I have 3: 5, 3, and 1.
I try avoid heavy shopping alone. I mean, I can do it but it’s not my favorite thing to do. I find that my mind isn’t as clear (wonder why? haha) so I miss deals sometimes.
Half the time I take hubby with me and the other half the time I shop with only some of the children.
If I have to take all three, I try to take snacks and a cup. Or promise them a little prize at the end. But mostly, I just try to avoid it if I’m hard core deal shopping. 🙂
PS My Silas was also an avid nurser. Wowza, that boy could think of nothing else. To be honest, he still can’t, and he’s 5.
Great job! It does get easier. I’ve got 5 girls who are now 8, 7, 5, 3.5, and 2 next month. When the youngest was born, the oldest was 6.5! The first time I took all five of them out by myself, I swore I’d never, ever do it again! It was not fun, to say the least. But, it did get better. You’ll learn your kids’ schedules and find out when it the best time to run errands (for me it was, and usually still is, first thing in the morning, even though I am definitely not a morning person…my girls are all morning people). My sling and ergo have been lifesavers! And well, shopping at places like Harris Teeter that have cookies is nice too. They can sit in a “fun cart” (the carts with cars, etc that they can sit in and “drive”) and eat a cookie and they are in heaven and it allows me a little time to do some uninterrupted shopping 🙂
Way to go! I’ve been reading this with interest, because I’m expecting babies #2 and #3 this summer (surprise, twins!) and then I’m going to have three kids under three for a little while.
I’m thinking I’ll mostly shop while their dad is home and take 1 twin (in a sling) and possibly their big sister along.
Hi Crystal. You snagged some sweet deals. I so wish we had a target! However, I have a question for you. You seem to consistently post your weekly shopping trips and I have not seen any dishwashing dtg. The kind for a dishwahing machine. Do you buy it? Do just have a huge stock pile of it? Do you make it? I was just curious. We have been having trouble getting our dishes clean with the off brand kind from Aldis. Last night I had to run out and buy $4 Cascade and it finally did the job right.
I just figured you might have some tips to share on how you manage that product.
Just to let you know, the address for the Purex site is http://www.purexinsiders.com/ . You forgot the “s” on the end, so some people may be having trouble finding it. I had to google it. I also suggest leaving the kids at home. I still do when I can, and mine are 8 and 9 (and one on the way).
My husband is not into grocery shopping. And since I had 5 children who were 2.5 and under, I welcomed the chance to get out by myself. He would stay home with all 5. I got done faster with less stress, he got time with the kids, and I got a little break. We found for us that once we were outnumbered it was better to divide and conquer. Of course, I had no idea how to use coupons (and no time to find out how). So you’re ahead of the game on that! Good haul you got!
Money Saving Madness says
I put all three kids to bed at 8 p.m. Then I go out and grab a coffee, and shop in peace!
When my three (6,4,2) were little, I–like many others–relied on a sling to make room in the cart for the groceries & my 2 yr. old. My oldest helped me shop or rode on the end. (I know that’s not the safest spot–but the risk factor never seemed as deadly as the potential risk of my sanity!) We loved the carts shaped like trucks!
Here’s my biggest tip: No matter how well you plan, one of the kids will probably have a melt-down at some point. If you need to take a break to go to the van to nurse, administer discipline, cry yourself, etc., the store can temporarily store your cart for you. They can park it in their cooler if it has perishables in it. Just ask at the service desk and give them a ballpark idea of when you’ll be back to finish shopping. (20 minutes, after hubby is home from work, etc.) Most stores would rather help you out this way than have all their shoppers disturbed by a wailing child. My 2nd child was extremely colicky, so there never seemed to be a good time to shop. We only had to utilize the cooler once or twice, but knowing I could, made my trips less stressful.
I agree with most everyone. It’s so much easier to go alone. I get my shopping accomplished in half the time. Having said that, I know it’s not always possible. To me the toddler is the hardest to bring along. The baby is easy because he’s strapped in and can’t go anywhere. The older ones know better. But my 22 month old wild boy? Forget it? He sees a banana and screams “banana” throughout the store. So I either have to be very prepared with treats or buy the banana and then shop.
As with everything else, it does get easier! Good luck!
It can’t be done. Either that, or I’m just a wimp!
I have three under three and have attempted grocery shopping several times, but the logistical difficulties are significant. To keep three “littles” contained and still have a place to put groceries is nearly impossible! I’ve tried several setups, including two shopping carts (push one/pull the other), carts with two child seats, etc. If you can put the youngest in a baby sling and/or have the oldest walk next to you, that creates more space. However, shopping with coupons and scoping out deals is still unlikely to happen. There is also the safety issue of how to get everyone in and out of the car in a busy parking lot.
It’s also difficult to time a shopping trip correctly around naps, meals, etc. (especially with different ages when they’re not on the same schedule). Usually someone has a “meltdown” (maybe even the mama!) by the time we make it to the check-out lanes. There have been times I’ve driven home in tears after a particularly difficult shopping trip (the kids were already crying, so why not join them?!).
Now I shop when my husband is home with the kids. (One benefit is finding marked-down meat and dairy at the end of the day!) If he has to work late or has a meeting, occasionally a friend or relative will watch the kids so I can get groceries. This is not a perfect solution, as schedules can be undependable; many weeks I don’t know when I’m going to have the opportunity to get groceries. One of the many everyday challenges of having several small children!
Having said that, some people DO make it work and they have my eternal respect. Here is a brave lady who shops with four littles:
However, she did post a follow-up now that she has five:
Mine are 5,3 and 1. Honestly it hasn’t got easier yet, the challenges have just changed but I think that true about life with kids in general. Now the baby doesn’t need to nurse all the time but the 5yr old is looking for anything he can get his hands on that he might be interested in.
Early on the front-pack carrier was a life saver and shopping was pretty easy because the 2 boys would go ride in the race-car shopping cart. Now, not so much, that’s “too baby” for the 5yr old. Take along help when you can, or even just find a sitter for 1 kid. Being able to leave 1 kid with grandma/dad/someone makes the shopping trip temendously easiser. It took us several months to find our new normal and get used to it.
My DD is 2 1/2 now and she’s our only one so far, but when she was tiny I wore her in a sling and would nurse her in there. Or I’d just stop, sit in the rest /snack area if the store had one and nurse there.
I have 4 little ones and I really can’t do a good coupon shopping trip with multiple stops when they are all with me. My mind just gets overloaded and I can’t think. I either go before my husband goes to work or in the evening while he gets the kids to bed.
Mary Jo says
I haven’t been to the grocery store alone with my one little yet (she’s 3 months old). Whenever my sweet husband finds out I’m going to the store, he offers to watch her so I can go by myself. I don’t know WHAT I’d do if she started screaming while at the grocery store. Aside from that concern, I’m pretty sure I could handle it, since otherwise she just sits in her infant carrier and smiles at me. 😀
For those of us whose husbands have “eliminated” themselves as an option for “babysitting” :0 I have only a few suggestions. First, we love Tom Thumb (Randalls) as they have those carts with the T.V.’s inside (now free!). However, my children are very active and even that doesn’t last very long. Also, as soon as we walk in the store, my kids ask for “a toy to play with” as we are shopping. I have a 4 and 5-year-old.
They play pretend with dolls or dinosaurs, etc., whatever they have available in the store, which of course we have to put back at the end of our trip. Sometimes we have to switch toys mid-trip. They especially like the toy isle at CVS and Walreen’s. They can play with toys that are new (and I don’t have to buy new ones) and I can do my calculating.
Some stores also have snacks or treats (such as cookie samples) that keep my kids occupied for a little while. It is difficult, but I do it because it is worth all the free food/deals I score!
Lastly, I have a 10 and 13-year-old and if they go with me, they can physically walk them to get a drink or find a new toy while I continue to shop, though I know this is not possible for everyone.
Vicki H. says
I learned after #2 was born that it’s all about attitude — your attitude decides what your day is like, regardless of what is happening, good or bad (know anyone who can *not* be happy? Know anyone who has indomitable joy? 🙂 ). i used to wonder how i’d take 2 to the grocery store, but now i have four (#s 1 and 3 are autistic, and #3 just recently pulled out a handful of my hair and left me with a 2″ in diameter bald spot on the top of my head for all to see). When i think of my former concerns with just two, i laugh at my perception back then of how “hard” it was. Nonsense; i just thought it was. So now when i start to think about how hard life can be, i just think of someone else i admire, and what they are going through. It really can *always* be worse, so why not be glad for what we have?
Other (hopefully) practical tips: Before we leave the house, of course i make sure the kids are well-fed and have all peed. The next step, before leaving the door, is to put on my Good Attitude, or your Sense of Humor, as though it’s a shirt you’ll wear to the store. Remember to leave it on and not take it off, even when an opportunity arises. However it turns out when you start, no worries: The more you practice, the easier it gets *not* to take off that shirt. Forgive yourself when you lose it and rip off the Good Attitude shirt and tear it up to shreds. Learn what you can from the incident, and try again. It’s not a big deal. Try to think of how important this incident will be in five years to help you with your perspective.
Oh and of course, i rely on the Baby Carrier of some type, and nursing in the minivan before we even go in. For the baby carrier i go back and forth between a mei tai and a SPOCK (simple piece of cloth) (great baby carriers can be free or extremely cheap), but whatever type works best for you, worn babies just don’t cry so much–they sleep 🙂 … generally, ha ha!!! In case this would help someone, i learned all about babywearing and how to make very versatile carriers, without sewing,for just a couple dollars at www dot wearyourbaby dot com.
My best wishes to you, and congratulations on your beautiful new baby. Children are a joy and a delight — no matter how much raw heartache might have been experienced during a particular day with a lot of growing pains (yours and theirs 😉 ) , at least when they’re sleeping, you can always see the evidence of divine providence in their faces.
Marianne @The New Frugal Mom says
My best advice? Shop alone, at night, after they’re in bed and hubs is home. It still do this when I have multiple stores to shop and mine are almost 8, 6 and 3.
Best of luck and hope little Silas is doing well!
I have always taken my kids shopping with me, but now that I have 4 kiddos aged 7, 5, 3, and 8 months (who has now graduated from the car seat to sitting up in the cart seat) I have decided to shop early on Saturday morning or in the evening. I am a serious coupon-er and I always make mistakes or forget a coupon when my kids are with me. The stress isn’t worth it to me anymore. I hate to give up time at home with my hubby, but I think I need to stay focused and keep the coupons out of my 8 year old’s grasp and mouth. I love reading through the tips on how to do it with coupons and kids.
It DOES get better. We have three (5,3,1), and so far, my saving grace has been my wrap. I use a mobywrap for the baby (still!) put the toddler in the seat, and the 5 year old in the back to hold stuff. They are all pretty cooperative…maybe I’m lucky. I think a lot of it (and this is theory, from talking with friends and such) that my kids never see commercials (no TV) so there’s nothing to beg for, and I go right after breakfast–their best time, full tummies and well rested.
Angela O says
Mine are 5, 3 and 1, and I homeschool, so I have them with me during the day. My few pieces of advice, some of which have been said: In the early months or even the first year, go at night or when hubby can watch them as much as possible. When you do go out with all three, go in the morning when there are few people. We shop Kroger also, so we take full advantage of the free cookies, fruit samples, bakery samples, and “healthy chip” samples. Sometimes I let them push a child cart, but if they don’t share or they get too rough (the older two are boys), then we have to leave it behind. Also, I only shop at one store per day. If I shopped three stores with three kids, well, we’d all be fit to be tied! So I make my shopping list as short as possible and hit Kroger only. Another day I might hit CVS (or I hit the 24 hr one after the kids are in bed, like tonight).
Soon you’ll be a pro! It’s the nursing so often that makes outings seem to take forever and as we know, that gets better in time.
I have 4 little ones ages 5 and under (with one on the way).
After number 3 came along my husband took over my grocery shopping chore! It’s great. He is a very good shopper.
I can do Target deals with the little ones in tow.
I bring my own double stroller using the bottom storage area to stow away my purchases.
I bring a bottle for the baby and one water bottle (Ifigure if they are really thirsty then they will go for it!).
I try to go after they have eaten and had a chance to play outside a bit.
I always give them “the talk” before we go in. Here are our rules
1. Don’t ask me for anything. We are not here to buy toys or treats
2. stay close to mom. If you don’t you will have to have one hand on the stroller at all times.
3. be polite
4. If we can not behave we will leave at once.
( I sound brutal but actually we have alot of fun shopping. We play “I spy” games. They love to go to the garden center. )
If they are behaving well. I will let them look at toys. (they do know we are not buying them) Sometimes I will buy a soda and we all share!
You have alot of guts. I never had enough energy to take a newborn and all the kids (even with my husband). Wow!!
Don’t forget mama to bring a drink for yourself, and a snack tucked in your purse like a granola bar or a bag of peanuts.
I have 3 littles age 5 and under with baby#4 on the way. Shopping and how to successfully stay within my budget turned upside down for me within the last year. After some review and strategic planning, my husband and I have decided that during this stage each week is going to be completely different. I may take all three during the day, or escape after bedtime or do a giant trek to every store in town on his day off to get it all done, and sometimes it has been a family outing. It simply will not be consistent because of the rapidly growing and changing needs of your little ones, i.e. napping, feeding, homeschooling, practices. Don’t hold strict to any sense of what it “should” be and just do what works best for your family. And , congratulations on your newest blessing!
I’m a single mama to three little ones (8, 6 and 2) and I’ve come up with several ways to keep them entertained while shopping! My oldest loves to help- Grabbing items off the shelves for me, helping me find specific things, he gets a kick out of it all. So does my 6 year old, although she’s not as excited about it 🙂 My 2 year old and I are usually shopping alone while the older two are in school, and I made him his own little coupon book, full of expired coupons. He LOVES it, and spends the whole time rearranging his coupons, and asking me if I need any of them 🙂 A baggie full of snacks and a water bottle are always in my bag too, in case the munchies attack!
I had a great Target shopping trip today too, thanks to all the deals and coupon links you had posted. Thanks so much!
I usually take my four shopping with me but they are a little older (9,7,5, and 3). I really like the stores that have the carts that have the trucks and cars on front that the kids can ride in. One of our grocery stores has those and a couple of years ago I would put the middle two in the car, the baby in the baby spot and then only my oldest had to walk. We have also worked hard to train them. The other thing I try to do is have one big shopping trip once a month and then the rest of the month I only grab great sales. Mostly I try to get it done as fast as possible and I don’t spend much time lingering. Also the kids help me find coupon items.
We grocery shop at Kroger. They have those mini-carts (called “baby” carts by my son). He LOVES those carts. So my daughter ( 22 months) gets into the baby cart and my son (3 yrs) pushes her around in it while I have the baby (7 months) in his car seat carrier in my cart. Takes a little training to get him to watch carefully and not run into things and ppl but he’s definitely getting the hang of it and keeps them both entertained.
Oh, and I ALWAYS, always strategically park next to a cart return that has a cart already in it. It’s just too crazy trying to drag 3 kids under 3 into a store without a cart to put at least 2 of them into while walking into the store.
Well, seeing as #2 is baking, I can’t offer much advice besides this – Liam got used to nursing as I walked very quickly. My aunt suggested working on him once he was big enough to nurse while he was in the sling so I could keep moving: whether that was just out walking, shopping, cooking, etc. My sling doesn’t have the really rockin’ long tail to use for a cover, so I just kept a receiving blanket in the sling at all times. He’d snuggle with it when not nursing, and when he inevitably wanted to nurse half way through grocery shopping, I’d just open up the Milk Bar because I was already covered. No one was any the wiser – if you wear lots of button up and zip hoodies like I did at the beginning, modest isn’t even an issue. Can’t tell you how many ladies wanted to see him, only to have to say to them, “sorry, I’d LOVE to show him off, but we’re having lunch right now.” They’d be flabbergasted at the “newfangled things you girls have nowadays!” 😉 *Grin*
And you’ll have to post how those Purex things work – I’m a bit of a Purex junkie, and I’ve been hankering to try them, but of course, haven’t seen a decent coupon for them…. Blessings on the new little one! 🙂 I’m due December 17th! 🙂
(Oh, and I have a new blog – BookGirl’s Adventures. Bear with me as I move info from WordPress!)
I am usually shopping with at least two kiddos (2 1/2 and 10 mos. currently) – but add my 6 yo to the mix if it’s after school or summer vacation….
The thing that I’ve found to be the easiest thing when I am shopping with multiple kids is to put a little baggie that I carry around, then when I have something that I decide to purchase, I put the coupon in there, so that I can just hand the bag to the cashier when I am checking out. That way — I can make sure that I utilize every possible coupon. 🙂 I’m still pretty new at the couponing thing – but this seems to work especially well at Target, where using coupons with unadvertised/clearance sales (majorly clearance items — ie $2.86 for 12 oz. Starbucks whole bean, free Aveeno facial cleanser, and $.99 Kellogg’s cereals)
My 3 boys are well past that stage now (13, 9 & 7), but when #3 was a baby I switched my shopping schedule to happen at night. My sweet hubby took over bedtime routines for me on shopping day and I was able to get out to Meijer, Wal-Mart, CVS and/or Kroger because those stores are 24 hours in our area. I shopped primarily at night until my second son began kindergarten. It seemed like a long time back then, but truly it flew by; and I would do the same all over again in order to have the time with the kids at home, and not have the temptations to either over spend because of frustration or get testy with the boys at the store.
Occasionally I would venture out for a daytime shopping trip, and I made sure that I had everything planned in detail and stuck to the plan. I didn’t take time on those daytime trips for checking out markdowns or any unadvertised sales so that I didn’t overwhelm the boys. My oldest was able to make up some games to help entertain one of his brothers, and enjoyed that for the first 5 minutes or so. But the key was to keep it short. I would tell the boys how long I expected the trip to take, and one of the two oldest were in charge of keeping the time. If I was still shopping when the time ran out I would quickly grab the absolute essentials and then check out. When the boys knew that mommy would leave when she said she would leave there were fewer issues in the store.
I have 3 children currently (9, 4, 20 months) and one more due Dec 11th. I have always taken my dc shopping with me but now have the luxury of being able to leave them home with daddy on occasion! The key for me when my littlest one was a newborn was to put him in the sling, my middle dd in the front seat of the cart, and my oldest was there to help some with holding coupons etc. I always tried to go during the day when everyone was happiest and during the newborn’s naptime. He slept the entire time I was in one store. If I needed to go to another store I would nurse him in the car before the next store while we had a snack or lunch in the car. It gets easier with 3…just takes time to adjust…lol…fortunately , no sooner that I just got used to having 3, a fourth will be joining us! LOL
Mrs. F says
I have 3 year old twin girls and a 2 year old boy. I take them everywhere with me – so multiple stores with multiples does get easier.
When my boy was little and nursing – he was in a sling & the girls rode in the front car of a supermarket cart. Now that everyone wants to walk, I go over the rules before we leave the house. 1. Keep one hand on mommy’s cart at all times 2. If you let go of the cart at all, always stay where Mommy can see you. If you can’t see me, you’ve gone too far. 3. Yell “Stranger Danger!” & fight if someone you don’t know grabs you. I even practiced the cart holding at home with the kids so that they knew what I meant.
(If there isn’t a cart and my son’s in a stroller – it’s hold the stroller. If we are all walking, we are a choo-choo train that has to hold hands and stay connected at all times) They are all so great when we go places now. Like another commentor stated – stopping by the bakery or deli for cheese or cookies also helps if anyone gets cranky.
I also always pack snacks to motivate the kids to get buckled in their seats quickly so that we can head to the next stop. 1st one buckled in gets veggie chips I’ll say. Everyone races to their seats and eagerly awaits their treat after getting snapped in.
I also carry my list with me (pre-written at night, matched up with coupons & organized by supermarket aisle, so I don’t go down EVERY aisle), check everything off and then hand over my snack baggie full of coupons at check-out.
I, like you have 3 little ones that come along with me when I do my shopping. They are 5, 3, and 3 months and I am nursing the 3 month old.
The first day I went to shopping with all 3, I dreaded what the stores would be like and wondered how I was going to manage having my kids behave while still remembering what it was I went in there for in the first place.
I will tell you that first time was dreadful but it does get easier. If I need to go to 4 stores, I have a list of what it is that I’m going to buy along with what coupons I need to use with which deal. That list and coupons go in an envelope marked with the store name on the front. That way I can quickly grab the envelope and at least I know I’ll leave with what I intended to buy in the first place. I also bring my binder and throw in under the cart for those surprising finds.
I enlist the help of my 5 year old and have her hold a basket while she walks around the store with me. She feels like she is shopping and gets excited when things are put in there. (provided its not to heavy.. prevent the whining at all costs lol)
Also a tip on nursing that might help, is I nurse my 3 month old daughter literally right before I walk out the door. Then depending on how far the store is and the drive to get there, I’ll nurse her right before I go into the store. That way I know I wont have to abandon ship for a hungry baby.
Hopefully this will help you out. Good luck
While I’ll admit that shopping with 3 (mine are 4, 3 & 19 months) isn’t easy, it can be fun. I give my older 2 one item they need to remember and try to make it as fun (and educational)as possible. I don’t give them something like bread. I tell my oldest to look for a fuzzy, brown kiwi or something like that.
I’m also (yes, bad I know) into bribbing if we are having a “testy” day. I let them know the ground rules (use inside voices, no running, no begging, etc..)before we go in and let them know that if they are good I will pick up on of those $1 packages of goldfish to share. While that doesn’t help my grocery budget, it gets them to behave because they think goldfish in those containers are, in the words of my 3 yr. old, so coool Mommy.
Another thing I like to do is to only take 1 child with me on occasion. It gives them some 1-on-1 time with me and they seem to like it….
Lisa B says
I love Kroger because it has little carts for kids which entertains my 3 year old. Target gives kids FREE cookies in the bakery, so that keeps them sane through there and Meijer or Target has a starbucks so that keeps me sane!! Haha!! I much prefer to do my shopping alone while the kids are at home with my husband because then I am able to browse for more deals and pay more attention to the register when checking out. You are amazing taking three little ones out already!!
I’d have to agree that I typically avoid taking children with me when I am grocery shopping, cvsing, or going to Walgreens/Rite Aid. I have 4 kids ages 9, 7, 4, and 2, and it just gets too crazy to think straight and I inevitably forget something or go crazy. 😉 It is much easier for me to shop late at night after the kids are in bed, or just at a time when my hubs can watch them. Today I did manage a lengthy grocery shop run with the 3 younger ones, as well as hit Walgreens and Rite Aid afterward. I find that bringing the kids just uses more time – more time planning and then executing while in the store – and my time is very valuable with four kids. It seems as though you are looking for advice on how to make it work with all kids in tow, and I’d say, make sure they are all fed, have used the bathroom and have something to do both in the car and at the store. And be prepared for anything and everything!! 😉
The easiest thing to do is to leave them at home, but that isn’t always doable. I let my daughter (I only have one to worry about) hold the coupons for products I’ve found, I also have her help me find stuff sometimes, but mostly she keeps an eye out for blinkies and other things I might not see. She’s been very good at finding those.
I have a 2 year old and a 5 month old. I take them both everywhere I go! I use my baby bjorn alot or leave her in the car seat in the cart. I couldnt even imagine having 3! I guess I will cross that bridge when it comes!
Great deals by the way!
My husband started coming with me shopping when I had 3 little ones… and never stopped. It turned into a bit of family time 🙂 Now, 2 kids later, I feel lonely if I don’t go without everybody. Plus I find that when we all go together, we are able to witness about our family size and the Lord’s sovereignty more often 🙂
Glad your “survived” your first trip out!
I was never able to completely breastfeed (but I’m getting better each kid *grin*), but when I was doing both with my son, I pumped and put breastmilk in a bottle (I’m one of those women who can’t pump very well so it would take a little bit). That way you can feed them while in the infant carrier and rolling the cart around. It’s still an art form, but it DOES take a little pressure off and free up one hand when you need one (or both if you can figure out how to prop the bottle into the baby’s mouth with the baby blanket for a moment).
I know how you feel about changing perspectives too. I thought juggling ONE kid was hard, then I ended up with 2 with a year and a half between them. I’m STILL getting the hang of getting them both out of the car, into a cart (without dropping anything) all the while juggling diaper bag, coupon box and resuable shopping bags (those suckers are GREAT! You can fit twice as many groceries in those as in the plastic ones, they don’t fall apart AND you can throw a HUGE bunch of groceries over your shoulder instead of trying to figure out how not to give up your hands :-). It was easier when my son was in an infant carrier. I miss those things *sniff*.
I can feed my son while juggling coupons and telling my daughter repeatedly to sit down in the cart now, though. So hang in there…it will get easier *laugh* it’ll just take a little bit. I’m glad you all survived and found such GREAT deals.
A friend with 4 kids told me that when her kids are good helpers at the store, she lets them pick out a yogurt -whatever flavor they want, as their treat. I thought that was a great idea because it isn’t really unhealthy and isn’t expensive. My kids LOVE it. They don’t ask for anything, they are excited to be good helpers at the store, and think it is great that they get to pick out their favorite flavor of yogurt, which isn’t one I usually buy.
I also try to go with just one kiddo. It just goes better all the way around!
Do you have a sling? My ring sling (teenygreenykc.com) is the only way I can successfully grocery shop with my three year old and 3 month old.
Money Saving Mom here: Yes, I’m a huge fan of slings when my littles are teensy-tiny. Silas was pretty much in the sling the whole time we were shopping today. Love it, though my back is a little out of practice!
Do I have a tip ? Sure avoid it at all costs. 🙂 I am just kidding you will get this down and running it like a pro very quickly.
Go at night or on Saturday by myself (when my husband is home).
Trade babysitting with another mother.
There are other things like giving them snacks, bribery, threats, pacifiers, stores with mini-carts or babysitting, but nothing is anywhere as efficient as going by yourself. I don’t like cutting into my precious evening time with my husband, but in the early days it helps a lot. Once baby gets older it will be easier, and you can get back to daytime shopping more often. I’m having my fourth this week, so I know I’ll probably be doing some evening shopping this summer.
Rosie Thornock says
I see the Purex 3 in 1 complete sheets in your stash from Target… care to share what your deal was on those? I’m totally interested to try them (and about to hit the “must buy laundry detergent” place). =) Thanks!
Money Saving Mom here: I signed up to be a Purex Insider (PurexInsider.com) and was accepted so they sent me some free samples and a coupon for a free box. I think these are quite innovative, though I’m sure they are worth the extra price for me!
Jessica Abel says
You continue to amaze me. I want to understand and know how you do. I can’t wait to read your Supermarket Savings 101.
It is not easy (for me anyway) to shop with my 2 kids, so you are exceptional. What a beautiful baby boy. God Bless Jessica
I have 4 kids. If I take them all, I try to go in the morning right after breakfast when they are all typically happy.
We try to get those carts that have the two steering wheels in front, and my oldest son (7) likes to push those mini carts (after abandoning the cart because of failure to obey and not run into strangers, he and the others are very good about pushing those).
Have my list and coupons as ready as possible, to make it as quick and painless as possible, of course that said, there are alwasy unexpected deals that I have to sort through coupons for.
Maybe not so healthy, but the bakery at our local grocery store gives out free cookies to kids, so that keeps them busy for about half the store. And, since they’ve had a treat, it is much easier to say no when we walk down the snack isles.
They really are great kids, and I actually don’t mind taking them with me. It just takes a little longer.
Nikky Pierce says
I was so excited to see you named your new baby Silas. I have my own Silas who is 9 1/2. His nursing schedule must be connected to his name because my Silas was the same way. He took 45 minutes to eat and then I had about 1 hour to quick get something done and he was ready again! Congratulations and thanks so much for a great blog that has inspired the blog my friend and I do.
Great job Crystal! I’m often shopping with 2-4 of my children. I have an 8yr. old,6yr. old,2yr. old, and 2 month old. I almost always have my 2 month old and 2 year old with me while shopping.
I usually take my sling with me and put my baby in it while shopping. He will sleep for 2 hours while I shop, and I like taking the sling because that means I can put my 2yr. old in the front seat of the cart instead of a BIG car seat.
If the baby wakes up and isn’t soothed by the pacifier, we take a nursing break in the fitting room (we shop at Meijer where they also sell clothes). While I’m nursing I don’t have to worry about my milk, meat, eggs, yogurt, etc…. being out too long because when I shop I’ve learned that we may need to take a break in between (with the baby) and so I strategically get all the items that don’t need to go into the freezer or refrigerator FIRST. I get all the refrigerated/freezer items LAST. This has helped a lot and given me peace of mind, knowing that the items I’ve bought haven’t been in my cart too long before going into the fridge.
I hope this helps!
Congrats on making it through! I have a 23-month-old, too, w/a little bro for her due in 3.5 weeks – so I am w/you on how easy it is to take 1 out! I am trying to enjoy that as much as I can before baby #2 gets here and I end up nursing every 2 hours for 45 minutes!
I got some great deals @ Target, too, this week. Since we don’t have a Super Target, though, I spend a lot of coupons @ Wal-mart. Yesterday, I used $36 in coupons! Boy did that feel nice! Those Kraft coupons were fantastic, especially around this time of year when condiments are on super sale!
Thanks for finding time to keep us updated! Good luck:)
Can you tell me what coupon you used for the Purex 3 in 1 detergent?? Thanks!
Money Saving Mom here: I signed up to be a Purex Insider (PurexInsider.com) and was accepted so they sent me some free samples and a coupon for a free box. I think these are quite innovative, though I’m sure they are worth the extra price for me!
When I had 4 under 5 years old, I quit taking them with me for big shopping trips. I would take the nursing one if she wasn’t sleeping and left the rest of the children at home with Daddy. It just took too long getting through the store with all in tow, and with at least two in the cart, there wasn’t much room for groceries. I also just did not think it was safe for them. It is very hard to navigate through a busy store with several littles. I would take them for small trips so they could learn to behave in a store:)
I prefer shopping alone after my husband is home from work, but I have been known to coupon-shop with all 4 girls in tow (5 and under). It can be a little stressful, though!
I highly recommend the Ergo carrier for baby, which leaves more room in the cart for groceries. I always carry my “coupon bag” which holds my coupons as well as my reusable bags, calculator, scissors, etc, in addition to some small toys and a couple little containers of cheerios or goldfish for the inevitable cry of “I’m hungry”. This also keeps me from having to impulse-buy and keeps their hands off the shelves while they eat their little snack. It also takes careful training from the beginning to keep kids close to the cart and not grabbing everything and throwing it into your cart while you aren’t looking!
Best tip of all, though, is to be prepared with your list and coupons pulled so the trip can go as quickly as possible! 🙂
Going alone when daddy can be home with the little ones:)!!!
I only have one right now, and I can’t even imagine shopping with two… let alone three! Congratulations for making it through! 🙂
After I had my third baby, my husband did the grocery shopping for the first year, and now I leave them at home with him while I go out alone (they are 2, 4, and 6). It’s soooo much easier.