Shopping with the kids in tow can be stressful. Here are some hints that might help to keep you sane and under-budget!
1. Eat a snack before you get to the store. If you and/or your kids are hungry, shopping can become a stressful experience. One that, imho, can lead to non-budgeted purchases. If I am hungry while shopping for groceries, I almost always break down and put food items in my cart that are convenience-driven, not price-driven. “Ooo, that looks so good. I’m so hungry. I’ll just buy that now to snack on while we drive home.” If you and the kids are hungry, it will be harder to look for bargains, sort your coupons, etc. You’ll be far more likely to fill your cart quickly and head for the checkout. Hungry kids are great whiners. Whining for ‘I want this and I want that,’ can also lead to “ok, we’ll buy this if you just stop whining” purchases. Keep a couple of granola bars in the diaper bag so that you can munch on something before you head to the store. Or, plan your shopping for after a meal.
2. Make a list and stick to it! I have found this very hard to do over the years. Make a list – great! I love making lists. Sticking to it in the store – much harder. There was a time (before kids) when I never came home with only what was on my list. I always saw something (a purse, lipgloss, a book) that I ‘needed’ to have. Now I have made it a challenge to myself to purchase only what is on the list. It is very hard at times. Especially when I’m hungry (see number one above). Plan for your trip by finding appropriate coupons and checking ads to see where you’ll find the best price. If you are familiar enough with your shopping destination, try to organize your list by where the item is found in the store. Travel once around the store instead of going back and forth. Skip the aisles you know you won’t need.
3. Shop during Wake Time. Plan your shopping trips around nap times and both you and your kids will be much happier. Consider how long your trip should take and plan accordingly. If your child is both hungry And tired – watch out!
4. Save the ‘Shopping for You’ for a time when you don’t have the kids in tow. If you can swing it, shop for yourself (clothing, make-up, etc.) during a time when your spouse or sitter can be home with the kids. The Boy will scream and cry any time he is in a dressing room with me. An early form of claustrophobia perhaps? I don’t know. But I do know that I do everything I can to Not try on clothing when I have him along.
5. Include your kids. Talk to them. Tell them why you are shopping. “We are all out of eggs. Mommy needs to buy eggs so we can bake a cake.” or “We need to get some more diapers for you.” Kids (even toddlers) are usually much happier if they know what is going on. Have water or a snack in your purse/diaper bag for an emergency. Let them know how much longer you’ll be. Sing songs or play ‘games’ (counting, etc.) as you go about the store. Let them hold purchases for you or make small decisions (should we get the apricots or pears?).
Have fun and happy shopping.