If you’re of a certain age, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of the show Supermarket Sweep. It’s a game show where contestants compete in different challenges centered around the art of grocery shopping. The action cumulates with the final contestants whipping shopping carts frantically through the aisles of the store. They work to fill their cart with the key items that will nab them the cash prize in the end. It’s a strangely addicting thing to watch.
There have been rumors for several years that the show might be rebooted in the general wave of reboots. If that’s true, we have an idea to make the sweep a little more challenging. Add kids.
Every parent—literally every parent—knows the struggle of trying to complete a simple shopping trip with kids in tow. From the meltdowns to the “can I haves?” to the aimless wandering and hazardous shelf grabbing, it all makes the chore of shopping much more difficult.
Here are tips for shopping with kids, by age, to help you master the art. They’ll come in handy if you find yourself on the Supermarket Sweep reboot featuring kids or if you’re just looking to add some more tricks to your parenting tool belt.
Shopping with Kids, Tips by Age
Plan your trips during their sleeping time. As they snooze, strap them to your chest and walk through the aisles with both hands free. You can also ask for help. When you have an infant, for better or worse, most people are willing to lend a helping hand. Ask members of the staff (during non-peak hours) to help you load the car.
Don’t leave the entertainment in the car, especially the things that have clips. Think about what you attach to the stroller. The shopping cart seat is pretty much the stroller of the store and this is the only age where it really comes in handy. You want to have things that will keep their hands and eyes occupied that also can’t be repeatedly dropped on the floor. Also, if your store has the shopping cart with the car, get it!
At this age, kids want to do and be a part of everything. Some stores even have carts that are their size. Lean into this phase. Make shopping a bonding experience more than just a chore. Talk about the different kinds of produce. Let them pick something (you need) off the shelf and put it into the cart. Try the samples. It’s not the most efficient way to get this knocked off the to-do list but this phase won’t last long. If you really need to get in and out of the store, perhaps it’s an occasion you can call a sitter for.
Once kids are in school, it often comes with packed lunches and strong opinions about their style. Take the opportunity to both empower them to be an active participant in shopping. Give them a list of their items and have them help you gather. If that fails, lean into stores that have the drive-by pick-up feature.
Probably the biggest tips for all age groups: reduce the number of stops you have to make. Once you have the momentum of shopping, nothing takes the wind out of your errand sails like getting back into the car. And every once in a while, treat yourself by calling in an extra set of hands so you can tackle the shopping list kid-free.