Shopping with Kids: A Terrible Combination

Shopping and kids make a terrible combination. Here is how I go shopping with my kids and not lose my mind or temper. 

We’ve all seen it: the kid screaming in the store because they so desperately want the toy that is the only thing standing between them and eternal happiness. And the mother, red-faced and angry, is trying to complete her shopping while her kid is screaming and howling across the store.

And sometimes you are that mother, and the only thing standing you between you and eternal happiness is your kid stopping to scream. There are really only two options: give in to the kid or have a shopping trip from hell. Neither is ideal. This is only made worse if you cannot actually afford to buy the child said item.

Kids don’t really get that when it comes to bread vs. random action figures, then bread wins every time. They assume that they will be well-fed, no matter what. And it comes down to us, the poor parents, to make those difficult decisions (not). But no matter how tight money is, there is probably not a mother in the world who considered giving in to her child when that tantrum starts.

Two weeks ago, I had a lot less cash than I usually did. This meant no extra spending on anything. Since I am very strict about using my credit card (emergencies only-and that means medicine.) I had taken my kids to the park, and I couldn’t deal with the inevitable walk home past all the lovely shops on the way to my house. Even without the possible tantrums-who can handle that look of longing and heartbreak on those adorable faces?

So I did something that I thought was pretty smart- walk the long way around and miss all the stores entirely. It took longer-but hey-we can all use a little extra exercise!

How do you say “no” to your kids?

The best way is to avoid the situation altogether. Basically, I don’t take my kids to the store. Ever. No, this doesn’t mean that I leave them at home with a babysitter or order everything online. This usually means early morning trips or very late store trips. Or waiting until my husband comes home or my husband doing the shopping instead of me even though I don’t like the vegetables he picks out.

It’s not easy to organize this way, but it certainly beats taking my children shopping! And I save money this way! And please don’t take your kids to a really “fun” store if you are not planning/cannot afford to get them anything-it’s too hard for those little people to control themselves! You can take them if you plan to get one small (or big) thing for them. Make sure they know what they can get and what is expected of them. It is ok to have some room for little luxuries in your budget, and it is ok to teach your kids that… within reason.

When I do take my kids to the store, there is a LOT of preparation involved.

4 Ways to Save your Sanity when Shopping with Kids:

  1. I set out expectations beforehand: “We are only buying milk and bread- nothing else” or “We can pick out 1 treat- and I have to approve of it”.
  2. I try to keep them as engaged as possible in what we actually have to buy in the store. I let them pick the items of the shelf. I offer options- red or green peppers? I have them hold the items that we are purchasing.
  3. Before we get to the checkout (where enticing options are usually lurking), I remind them again: “we are not buying anything this time- only the milk and bread that we picked out” or “You already picked out one treat -we are not getting anything else.”
  4. I praise them constantly for not complaining and make a big deal when we leave the store about their great behavior: “wow! I am so proud that you didn’t even ask for a toy!”

How do you make saying “no” to your kids less painful?

How do you make sure your kids don’t derail your budget?

I always want to give my kids whatever they want and make them happy. But am I doing it for them or me? I learned the hard way that sometimes it’s more about me than them!

shopping with kids

Who knows that song: “Never take kids to the store, all you’re going to hear is: we want more and more!”? Comment if you know what I am talking about! That was probably my first introduction to how terrible it is to go shopping with kids!

I know I am not the only mom who has shopping with kids’ difficulties! In fact, it’s a pretty common theme that moms and dads have! It is difficult to take your kids shopping and shopping with kids is certainly no fun! I would love to hear your strategies and solutions to this common problem!

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

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