How to go shopping with two toddlers in tow
The simplest answer is, if you can avoid it or get someone, anyone to babysit for you then, “Don’t do it”. By toddlers I mean between the ages of 5 and 1. Honestly, it’s not easy and there are so many things to consider and watch out for that many really do avoid it, (less headache). But as Mum of two gorgeous, inquisitive, lively, no concept of danger and how to behave in public toddlers, I have a few tips which might help if you have to undertake that adventure with them, by yourself.
Last minute baby sitter – I know I’ve already mentioned this above, but it doesn’t hurt to see if you can find a reliable person last minute. If you’ve already covered that as in above and still can’t find one then read on.
Simple and a few does it - Don’t try to or plan on doing a massive shop (ie grocery shopping for a month) as that allows more time for chaos to find you. Really, you want to zip in and out of the shop(s) as quickly as you can and only one or two shops. So casual browsing, multiple shops, trying on that gorgeous dress or shoe you saw last week and window shopping is not advised.
Don’t forget the treats – Take with you drinks, nibbles and maybe special toy with you. Toddlers not only get really distracted but also are expert whiners when they don’t get what they want right there and then. So having something they’ll like, can recognise and can occupy their hands with is excellent. This also works for any trips out the house.
Take a list – It might sound too simple or unnecessary but it will give you and the kids a structure and help you do a final check and avoid forgetting the essentials.
Mode of transport – If you have a car and your drive, great. If you don’t and can afford it, hire a taxi as you want to free your hands for a trolley/basket or to quickly grab a fleeing toddler at the shop, and it’s almost impossible to do any of that if you’re navigating a pushchair.
Trolleys are good – Really, they are as you can put your younger toddler in the little section near the handle specially designed for little ones, and your older toddler can sit in the trolley basket. They’re both secure, within reach and almost no chance of them getting run over by another trolley whizzing past.
Give them shopping chores – Remember the list I spoke about earlier? You can use it here. Talk your kids through what you’re doing and let them help you locate items on the list and put them in the basket. You’ll be working as a team, they’ll feel like your little helpers, and you might actually distract them enough to not notice the chocolate and sweeties aisle. Result!
Try not to let them loose – This can be a difficult one to swing if one or both of your toddlers wants to come down from the trolley and won’t let up with the whining. If you can, don’t give in and be firm, but if you can’t don’t let them go until you’re at the checkout. If you’re lucky, when you let them down and instruct them to stay put, they will limit the running around to the checkout area. If you’re not, make sure your bag is at an angle you can quickly grab, and you’re wearing your running shoes (toddlers are faster than you think especially when let loose).
Celebrate – If you managed that with everyone making it home in one piece, with all the items you took to the store still accounted for at the end, and with no one ending up under a trolley or car, then you deserve a treat when you get home. So don’t forget to add your treat to the shopping list, just in case.
*Take things that are not too bulky, easy to open and not too messy (if it all fits in one backpack great).
Make sure you put them back in the trolley before you head out the shop door, or if it’s too full promise sweeties or their favourite video when they get home – that is, if they will stay close to the trolley at all times and stop when you yell “STOP”.