5. Bring snacks anytime one of them is tired/cranky/etc. or plan the trip during your child's usual snack time and bring it along with you. A well fed kid will typically behave better than one that is hungry. Use a healthy, but easily eaten on-the-go snack (cut up cheese and apple, crackers, etc). I would advise against giving "treats" or a special snack while shopping (see #2) because otherwise they may expect it every time.
4. If you have more than one kid, wear one of them. Not only will this free up space in your cart (if one is an infant) and entertain that child, but you will burn some great calories while shopping. Since Mr. T can't sit up on his own yet, that usually means I am wearing him. However, if I am not going to get many items I will keep him in the car seat and wear Superman in the ergo on my back. He loves it!!
3. Enlist them to be your helpers. For Superman, that means he gets to hold a few (none that are breakable or smooshable) items. He also likes me to give him the item and he drops it into the cart. Finally at the checkout, he is in charge of the cards. He gives the checker the store club card and helps me run the credit card through the machine. If they are older, give the child a calculator and have them keep track of your total spending or have them help decide which kind of cheese, yogurt, etc you will get.
2. Do not bribe them. Do not tell them that they will get a treat for behaving and do not let them have the cookie from the bakery. If you do, they will ask you for it every.single.time and you can't really blame them for trying. Make the grocery trip about spending time with them and doing something together. If they are never told they will get something for behaving, they aren't likely to think to ask for something.
1. Do not ignore them. Seriously, how fun is to have to sit in a cart for who knows how long and the whole time being ignored? I bet you have all seen a kid screaming "mom, mom, mom" or throwing things on the floor while Mom completely ignores the pleas for attention. While we might not be this bad and we don't mean to, sometimes when we are just trying to get a task done, we turn inward and tune out everything around us. Try hard not to tune out your kids.
Take the time to talk with them. If they are old enough, get their opinions on what you are buying, what meals you might try in the future, or just what they did at school that day. If they are still young, use the time to sing songs, model decision making ("Let's see, I need olives. This can is $1.99, but this can is $1.09. I think I will get the cheaper one because it all tastes the same.), or practice a new skill ("What letters do you see?"). And best of all, if they are in the cart, give them lots and lots of hugs! Superman loves to get hugs and then push off of me and go gliding away. I run up to catch him and we do it all over again. I love our little game and we both end up leaving the store in a better mood.
I can always use more ideas and I feel like I have great tips for right now and for when they are school age, but I am thinking I need some new ones for when Superman is a preschooler.
So what are your tricks for a happy shopping trip?