How to have peaceful shopping trips with children

I think I’ve cracked it, how to have peaceful shopping trips with children.

  1. Have peaceful obedient children who don’t run off or argue
  2. Wait till they are older and more sensible

Ok ok, so 1. is but a dream and whilst we’re now part way to 2., after some increasingly successful shopping trips I feel moved to share these ideas.

Children need to be exercised. Give them a good run around or playground session before shopping. This also applies before any kind of longer travel such as a train or plane trip.


Make sure they are well fed at all times. A hungry, low energy child is a cranky child. Break the shopping day up into smaller chunks with playground and food breaks. It is normal that they will not eat any of the lovingly prepared healthy food you have taken.

Do the hardest most important shopping parts e.g. buying shoes, when your kid is at his/her most alert and least cranky (see above). Plan around their energy levels.

If you have more than one child, do not under any circumstances introduce elements that require sharing. Sharing will end up in arguing. This is doubly true with mobile devices.. “It’s my turn, she’s been on it for ages now“.

If you have more than one child, when they start arguing (which they will), don’t bother trying to resolve any arguments, try distracting them instead… “look a buzzard!”.

On the way home, have (non sharing) occupying activities that the kids can do such as drawing on mini board with a dry wipe marker, or a playing with a magnet board and magnet shapes. Sticker books are cheap and work too.

Ask if they need the toilet frequently and force toilet breaks. Assume your child will suddenly need the toilet when at the furthest location from a toilet or in the most inconvenient location such as a traffic jam on a motorway. The more inconvenient, the higher the probability it will be a ‘number two’ as well.

High sugar foods will not help especially when enclosed in vehicles. If you have more than one child, do not introduce food or drink items that will require sharing, this will end up with arguments. Individually package food items. You will need more water than you think and for parents, flasks of tea or coffee are reviving.

Be prepared with hand wipes, plasters, paper towels, changes of clothing (for small children), empty plastic bags as ‘bin bags’ and sheets of grease proof paper make excellent makeshift trays to protect clothing for when you do McDonalds drive throughs.

Play distracting games in the car, three of our favourites are:

Game 1. Person A thinks of an animal, all the other people have to guess the animal by questioning person A, e.g. is it a mamal? is it a predator? Person A may only answer yes or no.

Game 2. Person A starts the game by saying e.g. “I’m going on a trip, I’m going to take a hairbrush”, Person B repeats what A said but adds one more item, Person C repeats what B said adding one more item, and so on.

Game 3. Playing stone. “Let’s see who can be quiet the longest”

What tips have you got to share?

4 thoughts on “How to have peaceful shopping trips with children

  1. Generic, for a stress-free drive to shoppping: buy yourself a car that you don’t care so much about. Expect fruits behind car seats, vegetables growing under the carpets… and milk on the ceiling 🙂

    Game 4. “I see something that you don’t see and it is… blue. Then the others try to guess what it is”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re spot on, I forgot about the car part. Our current one even has no carpets and totally meets the “don’t care about” criteria. Sliding doors help too.


  2. I’ll sometimes offer a positive consequence if they can manage to listen well and follow our rules while we’re shopping. Something simple such as an extra stop at the beach on the way home, picking one sticker from the special stash I have, or on the rare occasion: one piece of taffy. I’m careful with this offer because they will, of course, try to turn it into, “but why can’t I pick out a small toy from the toy aisle?” (why on earth do grocery stores have a toy aisle??).

    Not really a trick per se, but I also try to get only the necessities when I shop with 2-3 kids. Save the longest list for when I can sneak out solo.

    Liked by 1 person

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