1. Never go to the store at peak time.
If you are a full time parent, why on God’s green earth would you go on weekday evenings or weekend afternoons? Go during the weekday at 10:00 am or 2:00 pm, or a weekend day at 7:00 am. This is also the time you will find the “professional” coupon shoppers on the hunt. They have coupons in folders, shoe boxes, and photo albums. Talk to them. Let them meet your child. Ask about how they do it and get their help. They will give you great tips and a few extra coupons. For those of you that work during the day, I can’t tell you how revolutionary this is. Go early on the weekend or take time off work to shop.
2. Shop on Wednesday for the best deals and samples.
Grocery stores have a sales cycle. In most places a sale will run from Wed. to Tues. The freshest produce will also be out on Wednesday. If they are out of a sale item you can request a rain check voucher to get the sale price later when it is back in stock. This is more about saving money and getting the best product but it can also apply to Toddler timing. This is also the day that the store may have free samples set out that will help give your little one a nibble here and there on the trip.
3. Get your wiggles out before the store.
The supermarket is full of stimulation with new colors, sounds, smells and people. It is wide open. A child itching to run will do just that. Play at the park first or otherwise wear your little one down a bit before attempting the store.
4. Bring a snack.
You should always go to the store on a full stomach. Even so, any child exposed to so much food stimulus will want more. Can you blame her? There is so much! So bring a snack to tame the wantsies.
5. Park near the cart return.
This has to be one of the first things I learned as a new parent. It is fairly self explanatory. On the same note, if you don’t have your kid with you, be kind and don’t park near the cart return.
6. Let your child walk in the produce section. There is nothing at kid level.
The hardest part of going to the store is preventing your little guy from pulling things off the shelf. In the produce aisle or section you don’t have to worry about this. You ever notice? Everything is waist high at this part of the store.
7. If you didn’t bring a snack, go find individually packaged snack items.
There are times I forget to bring something. There is nothing wrong with giving your child a snack from the store. It does, however, have to be something that you can account for and not technically steal. Grapes that are charged by weight? Not cool. So beat it over to the applesauce or fruit pouches. You were going to by a box anyway, give her one to snack on while riding. The unit box will cost the same with or without the one you eat.
8. Let your child walk in the frozen section. This another safe place.
If she is particularly rambunctious I will put the cart to the side and play a few games. You can play a little tickle here without worrying about items knocking on the floor. Of course you tighten up when other customers come around. Please refer to Number 1. If you time it right, there will be so few people in the store this is not an issue.
9. Stand on the pull-out shelf for differently-abled customers.
This allows you to do a few things. One, she can watch the action. Two, there is usually disposable clothes there for cleaning. We take a minute to clean the keypad for fun. Third, she can learn to push the buttons. Most of the time she chooses Spanish so I have practice running my card in another language. You can start with the big red and big green buttons.
10. Practice interacting with strangers.
Compassion is one of the greatest human traits one can have. A simple way to build compassion is talk with people in the community, especially those in customer service. They are usually treated like dirt. They have name tags. Use them. Here your child can practice saying Hi and Good Bye. It brightens everyone’s day when your child leaves the store saying bye-bye.
Bonus tip. Get to know the store managers by name. When they are on duty they can open up a line for you. Trust me on this. I have been saved a long wait by the simple act of the manager knowing who I am and that I am a nice customer.