One great double-edged sword that comes with being a stay at home dad is shopping in the grocery store. For some, this is your opportunity to decide what goes in the fridge since you’ll be responsible for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. At the same time you have to endure the weekly trip down every isle, searching vehemently for Velveeta cheese that isn’t in the dairy section while the kids are shouting “can we have this?”, “can we buy that?”, “I have to pee!” or “I had an accident!” However, there is help. The grocery store doesn’t always have to be a hassle. I frequently go with the kids and, through trial and much error, I’ve discovered a few tips that cut my trip time in half.
The list. Before you head into the great Isle of aisles, get a list together. With a semi-organized list, a stay-at-home dad can spend more time at home and less time putting back the fifth pack of double-stuff Oreos that junior threw into the buggy. Be sure to scan the fridge, the cupboards and all the cabinets to make sure you get everything on the list that you actually need. Divide it into the food groups plus a section for cleaning supplies and bathroom supplies. You should also include a section called “fun stuff”.
The car. Clear everything out the back. Everything. If it doesn’t charge a battery or change a tire, leave it at home. Once you get out of the grocery store, the last thing you want to do is re-organize a trunk to fit all the grocery bags in while Junior makes a break through the parking lot and back to the store for those Oreos you put back.
The kids. The biggest issues that can face stay-at-home dads in the grocery stores are hungry kids, tired kids, and bored kids. No one really wants to go to the store, but everyone wants to eat. The best thing you can do is what John Wayne did when he got word of banditos rolling into his gold mine town: cut ’em off at the pass.
Don’t plan the grocery trip until after a major meal like breakfast or lunch. That way everyone is nice and full and can’t play the “hungry” card. If you have an infant, he’s probably going to roll into naptime just as you roll into the store. Pack a few clean snacks like carrot sticks or crackers, but don’t hand them out until right when you get into the store. Kids can’t argue that they’re hungry if they’re eating on the way in. Even if this logic defies your kids, a consistent pattern after three or four trips will set the rules in stone.
The store. Now that you’re ready to shop, you’re ready to reap the rewards. Make the first stop the bathroom so that you don’t end up with a cart full of spoiling goodies as Junior takes his sweet time in the stall like he’s at home. Once you hit the aisles, the bribery begins. Ask each kid to pick one thing they want from the store and put it on the “fun stuff” list. Tell them if they help you shop and follow the rules (no touching anything without permission, screaming is not allowed, etc), you’ll buy the goods. If they break the rules, they don’t get the goods. There’s no state law that says your kids get to have sugar snacks or else you go to jail. But the court of public law says you need to keep your kids in control. When you get home, thank them for their hard work-even if it meant picking up a bottle of ketchup- and dole out the rewards. This may or may not catch on the first few trips, but eventually the lure of those Oreos could make the grocery trip hassle-free.