Whether your grandchildren live far away and you see them only on the occasional visit or, like us, you take care of them for large chunks of the week, the odds are good that at some point you’ll go shopping together. This can be lots of fun. This can also be a living nightmare. And everything in between.

HeadinToIkeaGranddaughter-Avila has been a good shopper pretty much forever. (Well, as long as we’ve been around to shop with her, acknowledging that we didn’t get here until she was 10 months old.) I’ve actually always enjoyed going grocery shopping with her since it provided “entertainment” for nearly an hour and accomplished something I needed to do anyway.

(On the other hand, those moms with 4 kids under the age of 6 that you see often in the stores here—they have my full-on admiration for patience and fortitude. I’m not sure I could do it. So far, even now with just the two littles, we take a divide-and-conquer approach and split up for chores like this if possible.)

My daughter has a great post on her blog here for four secrets to successfully shopping with your little one. She turned me on to her tip #3 when I was visiting, before we’d even moved here, and it really is a game changer! (Oh, go on, read her post—it’s short; she’s much less wordy than I am!) In fact, I now do it out of habit, even if I’m shopping by myself.

One tip I can add, make up your mind ahead of time if you’re in the mood (or if your budget will withstand) any unplanned purchases or not. If not, simply stand firm. This is where you see the huge difference between Avila going shopping with Poppy vs. if she goes with me. He almost always comes home with something unplanned, and often not even particularly desirable. (The Hello Kitty yogurt she actually found too sweet to eat, and the Disney Frozen snack box is just in the way all the time, just as a couple of recent examples.) 😉 I’ve begun to encourage him to stand a little firmer starting now, while her requests are still pretty benign!

I, on the other hand, have developed a method for acknowledging the wonders of the item being admired and requested — “Why yes, sweetie, that is the most amazingly beautiful [whatever] I think I’ve ever seen. I can see why you think it’s so wonderful!” — and then simply passing it on by. A second request might come, but often enough just the recognition (and the consistency of NOT giving in to requests) is enough and we’ve been lucky to rarely have battles at the store.

I also do try to have in mind one small “special request” that I’ll allow, which I think helps give some sense of empowerment for the little one shopping. Does that sounds contradictory? I think it works if the “nature” of the allowances is pretty clear — kids are smart, they figure it out pretty fast. A healthy food item of choice — a special piece of fruit, or a bottle of “strawberry milkshake” which is actually good-for-you organic fermented kefir — can sometimes be a winner, without blowing anyone’s budget or sanity.

And talking about why the other requested items are not going into the cart can provide some great learning opportunities too, depending on how old the child is. Avila and I have had some great conversations while shopping!

Any tips you’ve discovered to make shopping with your littles easier?

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