Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Art of Grocery Shopping with Kids


If you're like most parents you prefer to do your weekly shopping alone, as in: without kids. It's easier and faster and sidesteps potential irritations, such as: Don't touch! - Stay close! - Don't yell!
   
     But then again, sometimes we don't have the luxury of going solo and we find ourselves navigating the isles with one or more kids in tow.

     Here's how you can make that experience a positive one, so much so that in the future you may decide to bring your kids along just for the fun of it. When you bring positive energy to the experience and share that with your kids, all of you will benefit.


The Art Explained

     Just as there is a recipe for preparing lasagna, there is a method to this miracle of shopping with kids. 
     First and foremost: remember the three key features that make up an inspiring environment: relationship, autonomy, and competency or skill, and put them to use. Effective teachers use this triad daily in their classes and it is just as helpful in family settings. These three features influence and affect each other positively when consciously engaged, as you shall see.


Relationship
Change your frame of reference from 'shopping' to 'family-together-time'. Throughout your expidition your focus is first and foremost on your kids' well-being. Talk with your children, listen to what they have to say and respond adequately and appropriately throughout the time you are together. Mentally switch from 'I have to get this done in time' to being 'allies' in this trip - you and your kids are on the same side: their side.

     Approach and view everything from a child's perspective as much as you can. That way you are on the same wave-length and in a much better position to anticipate a possible mishap and deal with it adequately.

     Make sure you have plenty of time and are not in a hurry. Calculate about double or triple the time you would need when shopping alone.


Autonomy
Ask your child or children to help you and allot age appropriate little jobs to them. There are tasks they can fulfill, such as pushing the cart (or a kid's cart), selecting products and putting them in the cart, putting items on the check-out counter, etc. Involve them in the various processes of shopping, allowing them as much autonomy and responsibility as possible. Allow choices whenever possible and walk/talk those choices through together (this ties in with relationship).


Skill
Kids love to become 'good' at something, even if it is pushing a cart straight along the floortiles in the cereals isle. Notice and compliment your kids on every little contribution, reinforcing their positive involvement in the shopping expidition (this ties in with relationship and autonomy).

     In addition to mastering shopping skills kids will want to 'do' much more. If you channel their creativity, rather than wait for them to explore in ways that are not supermarket-friendly, you can make the shopping experience a fun time for all. Consider the following two activities to get your creativity flowing:

  • Feel the wonder of a long empty isle with a shiny floor and create a game to go with it, such as counting steps to go from left to right, skipping squares, letting the cart roll as gently and smoothly as possible, etc. Participate and be available to them.
  • Notice the stack of plastic bags for produce? Take one and inflate it to create a balloon, tying it securely at the opening with one or two tight knots. Invent games to go with this, such as keeping it afloat with only two index fingers, heading it as high as you can, etc.

     I'm not saying this approach is easy - at first it certainly isn't. You'll need to develop a two-track mind, doing your shopping adequately and being available to your kids. Practice makes perfect, and this art of grocery shopping with kids is no exception. Make sure the order of items on your list matches the layout of the store; that way you only have to go through each isle once, saving you unnecessary trips back and forth.


Positive Energy Field

Next time you're scheduling a trip to the store, consider lifting the experience from a chore to 'together-time' with your kids. This is a chance for you to get to know them better and for them to get to know you better: a person who is able to transmogrify an ordinary trip to the store into a rich experience in which you seize the opportunity to invest in your relationship.

     To be even more specific: this approach allows you to augment the quality of the energy field that exists in and around you and in which your kids participate, for the benefit of all - not least of all: you yourself. It puts you in the position of creator of your own experience, an experience that greatly affects the quality of life of both you and your kids. 
     Eventually, your role-modelling will inspire your children in turn. They will have learned how to consciously focus on the quality of their own energy field and enlist it in order to create more mutually satisfying and inspiring relationships.

     If you'd like to share about how you view the process of enhancing your own energy for the benefit of both your kids and yourself while going about your daily business, let us know and use the comment box. If you have any questions, that's the place to ask them. Thanks!

Adapted from a blog post previously posted on the author's blog
Image (adapted for this article) courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com
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