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CVSing With Children

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I would say “Shopping With Children,” but “CVSing With Children” is just an entirely different level of shopping.

When shopping, the cart doesn’t really stop moving. You grab the items on your list, trying to set a world record for Shortest Grocery Trip Ever.

When CVSing, you meander up and down the aisles, calculator in one hand, coupon binder in the other, trying to set a world record for Most Shampoos Earned For Free.

The latter takes considerable more time and concentration. And I do it with two children two and under. And this week, I was asked for tips on how to make this possible.

Here’s what works for me:

  1. When the babies are very young, bring a sling or baby carrier. They will sleep through your entire shopping trip.
  2. When they are old enough to sit in the cart, invest in a cart cover for these reasons:
    1. It has convenient loops to hold toys. No more Picking Up Dropped Toys game.
    2. It provides a barrier between your baby and those shopping cart germs. If your baby wants to chew on the bar, let him – he’s safe. You just concentrate on your deals.
    3. It catches crumbs and [most] dropped snacks. Which brings me to the next point…
  3. Snacks! Lots of snacks! It is not uncommon for us to go through 1/3 a box of graham crackers or 1/2 a box of animal crackers in one shopping trip. This keeps toddlers and babies alike very, very happy. Especially when the toddler can feed snacks to the baby. But make sure you bring water! We go through a full quart on these trips.
  4. Keep Tic Tacs in the diaper bag for checking out near those dangerous candy aisles. When the toddlers start making suggestions, say with surprise/glee, “Look what I found in the diaper bag!! We already HAVE candy! Would you like one?”
  5. Keep them busy/involved in what you’re doing. Examples:
    1. If your toddler is walking beside you, have her collect the item you point to from the shelf. She can toss it in the cart. My girl LOVES this.
    2. Bring an extra calculator (I have yet to buy a second, but I really need to!) for the toddler to use. My girl loves playing with mine in the store.
    3. Talk to your children as you shop. “This is toothpaste. We use this to clean our mouths!” “Do you like this color lipstick? Oh, you like that one? That’s pretty, too.” “Hmmm… where is the chapstick? Have you seen the chapstick?”
    4. When I have extra ECBs to burn, I let Olivia pick something out. Sometimes it’s a puzzle. Last time, I let her choose a color of nail polish. (She chose hot pink. After I shook my head at blue. Okay, so maybe not completely free reign here…)
    5. Every now and then, just stop and play. My girl loves the sunglasses display. We have to stop and try on a few pairs once every shopping trip. “No” goes over much more easily if there are some “yes’s” in the mix, too.
  6. Praise them when they are helpful and behaving. My toddler responds so much better to praise than criticism. Not that she doesn’t need a correction or two every now and then…
  7. Speaking of criticisms, what do you do when your toddler acts up in the store? Surprisingly, I have never left a store due to a temper tantrum. I only go out once a week. It’s too much work to have to go out again because we had to cut a trip short due to noncooperation.
    1. First of all, make sure all needs are met! Don’t go shopping while a toddler is tired or hungry. Don’t let them get bored. Prevention is the key with more than forest fires.
    2. Always have a backup plan. A toddler meltdown can be averted if a mommy keeps a cool head. Don’t worry about discipline if all she really needs right now is distraction. If she simply won’t be distracted, then you need some privacy to deal with this. Which brings us to…
    3. Make a mental note of all bathrooms. And don’t be afraid to use them. Once your child learns that the same mommy she knew at home is also there with her in the store, she will start behaving like she does at home (which I hope is a respectful, obedient manner.)

      I know most minds are going down that “spanking road” right now, but I just want to make sure you know the Bathroom Option is also good for the TLC a neglected toddler sometimes needs on a long shopping trip. Sometimes Olivia just needs to cry and be hugged after she overreacts to something small like, “No, sweetheart, we can’t get that toothpaste, it’s not on sale.”

      And, by the way, I take that cart in the bathroom with me. I know the sign says “No Unpurchased Merchandise” but I have a baby whom I prefer NOT be crawling on the bathroom floor.

      Besides, the workers there know I get everything for free anyway… why would I bother to steal anything?

And I think that’s about it. Make sure they are rested, fed, watered, entertained, involved, and expected to behave, and loved.

Did I miss anything?

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