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You’ve come across the scenario before. You’re in the supermarket and it’s not long before you hear a child crying or whinging about the fact that they are in that supermarket and the parents are doing everything possible to both control the children and their own tempers.
Also, imagine the scene I saw recently. A mum and her two daughters were walking down the aisles when one daughter said to her mum:
"Are we going to get your prosecco, Mum, because you finish it off so quickly?"
I immediately got an attack of involuntary laugher, and not quietly! The mum turned and looked at me embarrassed as they walked away towards the wine aisle!
Recognise either of these scenes? You certainly will if you normally go shopping for your groceries after school hours in the week or alternatively on the weekend.
So, let me take you to a different place...
Let me introduce you to the best helpers in the world when I go shopping: Our two boys Jaden, 8, and Gino, 13. Yes, I have two boys that not only really love to go shopping, they actually ask me each week when I’m going so they can join me! They also love being involved with the shopping by:
- pushing the trolley,
- calling out the items needed and crossing them off the list,
- getting the items off the shelves,
- unpacking the trolley, and
- packing the shopping bags.
They both know where all the items are in the supermarket and on what shelves, which is really handy when we're at the till and we’ve forgotten to get something or Jo, my wife, calls to ask for something extra. Off they go to get it themselves!
It all started when they were less than a week old when they used to come shopping with me in their carseats. They have been pretty much every week since, except when illness strikes or I go at an unorthodox shopping time!
They have always been fully involved and the checkout staff still are surprised to see them enjoying themselves when unpacking the trolley and then packing the bags after.
I know what you’re thinking, what’s the incentive? Nothing! No gifts, treats, or anything else. They just love going shopping. Even if I pop into the local shops they’ll come as well.
The reaction from other parents and the till staff is always one of surprise. Other parents always remark on how they wish their children would be like them. The till staff always asks how old they are and smile as they pass the groceries down to them. In a couple of cases, some of the till staff take to telling them how to pack the bags and what should go in where. This has led the boys to avoid their tills and go elsewhere! In one very recent case I had to tell a member of the till staff that they were experienced and didn’t need to be told what goes where; this then bought on a sulk from her for the rest for time we packed. Another staff member to be avoided in future! The boys think this is hilarious!
There is of course a major benefit at times to both Gino and Jaden. This is when they have free giveaways on at the till. Often the shopper before will see them in action and donate their freebies, and the staff will often give them a few more freebies in recognition.
So what is the secret to having fun and not face torture when shopping with children? Get them involved from a young age and help them feel part of it.
For me, I am now watching more as they have their fun packing, and in four years Gino will be 17. If I can get him passing his driving test quickly and give him the money to pay, I will have just lost one task a week! Although I would have to say how much I would miss doing the shopping with them!