Shopping was always more complicated with kids. I remember shopping with the kids when they were really little, and juggling a newborn and a toddler were some really tough times.  I have learned some tips from over 10 years of taking my kids to the store, so here goes!

Park near a cart corral

I always put my cart away, and that does not bode well with kids when the corral isn’t nearby.  If you park next to or at least very close to the cart corral, you can get the kids in the car, get the groceries in the car, and be able to put the cart away quickly without worrying about the kids.

Utilize the cart (and use it properly!)

While there are always folks who say the kids should walk – well, too bad.  With two kids, my general rule was to have at least one in the cart.  Two kids loose in the store is much harder than one.  Divide and conquer!

With infants, I always put the infant carseat IN the shopping cart.  Sometimes that made space an issue, but I never once worried about that infant carrier falling.  You can be creative – for instance at Target, I put a shopping basket underneath the cart to make for useable space.  Or, some carts have hooks on them for hanging grocery bags. Always read the instructions and secure your carseat in the cart – I never trusted putting the carseat on the top.

You can also use an infant carrier to hold your baby on your person, which is convenient and safe.

We also got a cart cover for when the kids were toddlers, and it was great.  Comfy, and no germs! You can simply pop it in the wash any time, and it is a great barrier between your child and a germy cart.

Be prepared

With babies and toddlers, this means a diaper bag of essentials, and possibly things like snacks and hand wipes.  When my kids were newborns, this meant using a breast pump right before leaving and having a bottle ready.  Those days were tough – we had about 3 hours between naps and breast pumping and the kids reaching their limits!

Also make sure to bring reusable shopping bags. They are much more durable and usually more spacious than paper bags, and it will make life easier.

Make good habits

While I do reward my kids for good behavior, they do not get a treat every time we go to the grocery store.  They can’t beg for candy in the checkout lane.  The iPad shouldn’t be a crutch for keeping the kids occupied and behaving well.  So keep in mind that habits are being formed if you are bribing your kids to be good at the store.

Curbside Pickup or Shop Online

I don’t know where this was when I had my first baby, but I would have used this all the time when I had a newborn!  Lots of stores are offering the option to shop and order your groceries from home, and all you have to do is swing by the store and your items will be ready.

Another option is to order items online. You can find many non-perishable items online, and it is far more convenient to get those delivered. I switched over to using Amazon Subscribe & Save for things like toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, pet food, and tissues. This way, we never run out, and I don’t have to lug big or heavy packages home from the store.

Don’t Overdo It

Lastly, I have a 3-store or 3-errand rule with the kids.  Whether it is the grocery store, bank, post office, etc., I find that after about 3 stores, we all start feeling a little frazzled.  I try to prioritize my errands so I can get the most important things done if I end up bailing on other chores.  For example, if you absolutely need an item from the grocery store, or you absolutely need to mail something out at the post office, do that errand first.