During my last trip to the grocery store, I had my 4-month-old on my chest in her carrier, my 2-year-old in the cart seat, and my 4-year-old dancing around the aisles. Every woman we walked by told me something to the effect of, "Well, you have your hands full." One woman shopping with a baby told me that I was brave — she was so proud of herself for going to the store with just one child. I told her it was more insanity than bravery. Two aisles later, my 2-year-old was in full tantrum mode screaming to get down from the cart. She continued to scream all the way to the check out and through the parking lot and into the car. I'm lying when I say it hasn't happened before. But it is preventable when I plan ahead.
Bring a Phone
When the girls start to get restless, I can grab my phone and head to YouTube to play some of their favorite shows, including Sesame Street. There are a few seconds right before they hit total meltdown, during which a show can distract them back to happiness.
Race Car Cart
My girls love when we're at a store that has cars attached to the shopping carts. They will spend most of the trip driving and honking while onlookers smile and comment on how cute they are. That makes for easy shopping.
Kids love to be a part of the shopping process. Nowadays, we can go beyond just letting the kids throw items in the cart. Stop and Shop lets you scan your products as you put them in bags in your grocery cart. At the end you get to breeze through the checkout line. The handheld scanner is easy enough for my 2-year-old to use as long as I hold the item and she presses the scan button.
Let Them Read
My girls love to sit in the cart with a new book to look at. We go to the book aisle and they each get to pick a book to flip through while we shop. As long as your child knows ahead of time that the book gets returned and it won't be coming home with you, this tactic will make your shopping trip way better.
Put the kids in the cart with a snack, but not just any snack - one they don't usually get to have, like an ice cream cup or a fruit roll up. If you shop at Whole Foods, have your child ask for a free kids snack at the front desk. She'll get to munch and you'll get to shop.
Grocery shopping and kids do mix — it just takes a bit of planning and a lot of patience. At the end of the trip, let them pick out their own treat to take home as a reward for a job well done.