Monday, 14 September 2009

Shopping with a Toddler and a Baby!

This is the first of hopefully many blogs designed to pass on some of the tricks I’ve picked up over the last three years. I know that you probably get more than enough advice from family and friends. Quite often from people you don’t even know (that drives me bananas). So this isn’t intended to be preachy, or patronising, or judgemental, I just figure that if I can save you some time and stress then that’s great.

Last weekend we all went out together to do the weekly grocery shop. My hubby, the two girls and I all trouped off, with our boot full of reusable carrier bags, to the local supermarket. Now I must make it very clear right from the start; if I can do the weekly shopping on my own then I will, but it’s rare. More often I manage to do it with just my 11 month old. After all, she sits happily strapped in the trolley and smiles at all the other customers. She’s no trouble. But as they get older they get less interested in the shopping experience and it’s harder to strap them down! So; only if I have my hubby’s help; do we all go.

Today we had three tricks up our sleeves to keep our eldest happy. The first; we were hoping to snag one of the very rare and very sought after ‘car’ trolleys. This is a special trolley that doubles as a little car for the toddler to sit in. It has a steering wheel with a car horn in the middle that beeps. There’s a strap, and the seat’s big enough for dolly to sit in as well. And your shopping ends up in baskets over their heads and behind them, so they can’t start squishing the crisp packets, or worse, the eggs. Our second trick was to take a little yellow post-it with six pictures on it courtesy of my artistic talents (there’s irony there, trust me). The pictures were of bagels, bananas, honey nut loop cereals, milk, FiFi pasta and cucumbers. It was a selection of grocery items specifically chosen for their position around the store (evenly spaced out) and my ability to draw them.

Our eldest was delighted when she perched herself in her little car and I handed her a special shopping list that she was responsible for. She’s at an age where she loves to help. So, every time she seemed to be getting a little distracted, or trying to jump out of the car I’d say, “What’s next on your list love? Have you seen the bananas yet? Where do you think they are?” It’s amazing how quickly they lose interest in the toy aisle when you’ve bombarded them with questions and steered into the fruit aisle, where they spot the next sought after item on their list. Getting overly exciting about their find is of course a must. Well, you don’t think you can get away without acting in a slightly embarrassing manner with children in tow, do you?

Our third and final trick is to provide her with food. We allowed her to eat a bagel on the way round. We always do this and it’s brilliant. Eating something they love (yet isn’t ridiculously messy or bad for them) is a brilliant way to deal with their short attention span during a shopping trip, and it deals with snack time as well.

So the shopping got done. Eldest was praised immediately afterwards, later at teatime, and again at bedtime, for her helpfulness during the shopping trip. I don’t believe you can overhype good behaviour enough. And she had a lovely day with no tantrums.

The downside is that these car trolleys don’t have a baby seat on them, so you can’t use them if you’re on your own with a toddler and a baby. So when I’m on my own I take her own mini shopping trolley with us. She walks round pushing her trolley, collecting her items, and I push the youngest round in my trolley. At least if the eldest's got a trolley to look after she’s less likely to run off....? Well, anything’s worth a try.

Good luck shopping!

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