Monday, August 30, 2010

Are You Queen of Your Cart?

When I take my kids to the market with me, I always get them a treat, or snack, of some kind.  It makes my life easier.

Our local supermarket gives away free cookies.  I am not thrilled about giving my children sweets at ten o'clock in the morning, but the cookies are small, and the price is right.

Trader Joe sells bananas by the piece (19 cents) and not by the pound, so each child gets a banana.

Target is where they get me.  Target has goldfish crackers in individual sized boxes, prominently displayed at the entrance to the store.  They are a dollar.  This does not seem like a lot, but each trip to Target requires a two to three dollar investment in goldfish crackers.  I call this the Target Tax.  Yes, this is corporate evil at work, but it could be worse.  Until recently, if you wanted these perfect child sized treats, the only place in the entire store you could get them was an end rack in the toy department.  Now, that was evil. 

There are several schools of thought on when and if it is appropriate to give your children snacks while shopping.  Today, I will be discussing three of them.

First, there are parents who never give their children anything while in any store.  This keeps snacking within prescribed snack times and teaches children not to ask for things in the store.   (This also happens to be the method most favored by people who have not actually had children yet, because it sounds so reasonable and responsible.)

Well, I say, "Congratulations!" to those parents.  I wish them well.  I, however, do not wear my underpants that tight.  Nor, am I a bionic NO-machine.  If I tried this, my children would beg, then whine, then cry.  Then win.  I would give them a treat, just so that they would leave me alone along enough to find the right brand of toothpaste.  (And why has that become so complicated?)  Thereby rewarding bad behavior.  Besides, my kids eat like every two hours.  They are most likely, legitimately hungry.

There are other parents who give treats at the end of the shopping trip as a reward for good behavior while in the store.  This may work with older children.  But it is my experience, that children under the age of five, especially boys, have no concept  of "later."  To small children, there in NOW and NOT NOW.

Let me illustrate.  Mother says, "Johnny, if you are good in the store while I am shopping, I will give you a treat when we check out".  Johnny hears, "If you are good NOW, I will give you a treat NOT NOW."  Hardly motivational from little Johnny's perspective, when he could run up and down the isles NOW.  Besides, this method also requires a whole lot of reminding and threatening.  Who wants to be doing that the whole trip?

The third method, and the one I prefer, was suggested to me by my mother-in-law. (Thank you, Grandma Christine!)  I give my kids their treat right away.  I get to be in charge of what the treat will be.  There is never a battle of wills for me to lose.  And, they are so busy eating, they don't bug me.  It's not perfect.  And I still must shop quickly.  But, I remain Queen of the Shopping Cart.

All Hail!!!


  1. Genius, I say!
    I started out that way and then lost my confidence that it was indeed okay to do it, so then I tried to become the bionic no-machine. not such a good outcome. I wish I'd had your confidence! And bananas, goldfish and a tiny cookie hardly seem worth getting upset about anyway, right?

  2. Why not leave them at home with the father. Surely the shops are open 24/7. I find shopping at night a good and fun trip, while in the daytime its full to the gills with people that can generate something akin to road rage.

  3. I always did the treats. When Taylor was the only child, he wanted a matchbox car. Our grocery had a disply and they were $1 each. So, he got that and a cookie. A small, small price to pay for a happy. content child playing and munching while I pushed the cart. He still has fond memories and I do, too! :)

  4. Vince, you must fall into the first school of thought(the part about not having children, I mean).
    Gracie gets a cookie every time we walk to the grocery store. Of course, I'm the one doing the walking, and she's in the stroller... it does keep her nice and occupied though!
    The biggest problem we've had so far is teaching her not to throw items into the cart (and onto her brother). I just KNOW I'll be having to make a choice out of the three above soon though. Thanks for the heads up. :)

  5. Well yes Sunshine, no kids what so ever. But if I had them there is nothing that would annoy me more that if I married an uber mom that would not allow me within ten feet of them.
    And anyway I like my dog so I fairly sure I would like my own kids.

  6. DFG, I am not sure I would have been so confident about this if my mother-in-law had not told me that this is what she used to do. And her kids turned out great.

    Vince, I will leave them with their father in the evenings while I do things that I absolutely can not do with the children. Like go to the gym, or a bible study class, or shop for something that requires alot of consideration. But with a family of five, there is so much marketing that needs to be done, if I did it all when I did not need to take the children with me, Hubband and I would never see each other.

    Betsy, Great story! We do what we have to do.

    SAHM, do what works for you. And shop someplace with wider isles and drive right down the middle. :)

    Thank you everyone, for stopping by.

  7. Ella is 9 and a half, and I'm STILL paying that Target Tax! Ah the goldfish box...

  8. Animal crackers...why? Cause MOMMY likes them too..and if THEY get a treat then I do too!

  9. When my kids were little I rarely shopped without my husband. I would shop and he would chase them up and down the aisles. I didn't have any hard or fast rule about treats or snacks. If a kid said they were hungry I'd grab them a banana or a free cookie or a small box of Sunmaid raisins (that's what my mom gave me to occupy me when I shopped with her.)and they were ALWAYS hungry.