Tiny Shoppers – Another activity to help make shopping more enjoyable for everyone!

Mommy Vegas Idea #25

CLEAR THE AISLES! Tiny shoppers on the loose!

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my munchkins are rather averse to shopping. There have been a few times everyone around them was left wishing they weren’t shopping either. As a result we limit the amount of time they spend bound against their will in the wire chariot of torture. But, as I keep trying to explain to them, eventually we all have to acquire food, and as my hunting skills are ever so rusty, due to generations of disuse, and my gatherer abilities are markedly hindered by a vast expanse of concrete, we are, at least for the moment, tied to exploiting the bounty of Costco, Winco, Trader Joe’s and the super market. Costco has managed to sufficiently romance them with their promise of culinary samples and our ritual dining experience of gourmet hotdogs and waterfalls of raspberry tea and lemonade. Winco has similarly wooed them with their seemingly endless bins of scoopable goods. Likewise Trader Joe’s, with their promise of treats for all those explorers brave enough to seek out the featured illusive inhabitant, has managed to captivate. The super market on the other hand… well, that required some additional effort on the Naptime Gnome’s part. She started fabricating pictorial shopping lists early on in an effort to make Little Bear’s shopping experience more like a scavenger hunt and less a chore. IT WORKED! Periodically, Mommy can take time to really shop, look at labels, compare prices a bit and actually have time to get everything on the list without an attempted jail break or monumental fit.

photo 4

The car carts and various other novelties are fun, but one or both of them are ready to get out about halfway through shopping.

After a while, I realized there were certain things we tended to buy more often than others and were within reach of tiny arms, so I kept a generic list in my car that was laminated and I could just mark with crayon or dry erase (as he got older) what we needed before releasing my assistant from his car-seat and tackling the shopping adventure. Now that he’s bigger and takes direction a bit better, he even wants to push the cart. For those days, many Albertson’s locations have the perfect solution: teeny, tiny, shopping carts! Yes, I know many shoppers view them as a menace, I too have been rammed in the shins, but honestly, who hasn’t been nudged or even bludgeoned by a preoccupied full-size shopper? If properly supervised, it can be a lot of fun, and rather rewarding, to let the little one take the lead with these tiny little carts! photo 4Even Baby Bug enjoys dutifully pushing HER cart around the store on a mission to fill it with her heart’s every desire. Maybe it’s a girl thing, or perhaps a second child trait, but she’s never had to be asked to walk, pay attention or use both hands, she actually pushes as if she is a miniature adult, perusing the shelves for her intended score, much to the delight of all the other shoppers.

I mentioned this idea to a friend of mine who was struggling with keeping her little ones onboard with the weekly shopping, but she lamented how she didn’t have the time to fabricate pictorial shopping lists or mosey aimlessly through the grocery store arguing over every unnecessary item that wantonly lands in the cart,  as she and her husband both work full-time. I TOTALLY GET THAT! So my suggestion is to make shopping an “activity” occasionally. Both parent and kiddle have a list, and a cart. Lay out the ground rules, only items that are on the list may venture into the cart. Maybe even agree on a reward or treat for everyone (Mommy/Daddy/Grandparent included!) who sticks to their list until the end (who doesn’t use a little unbridled bribery now and again?).  Little one takes the lead, but be sure to give directions as to aisle you need to visit as well. Plan to spend a bit more time than usual at the store and try to enjoy it, maybe even breakout the camera phone! What’s this, you don’t have time to make a shopping list? We got that covered! If you’re little one is reading, have them help compile the list. If you have an emergent reader or pre-reader, we put together this generic list (FREE MVP HERE) that can be printed and marked, manipulated a bit on the computer or your tablet and printed, or simply displayed right on your tablet while shopping. We tried to use items that are frequently purchased from the outer edge of the store, as processed foods are much more diverse and taste specific, thus more difficult to “generalize” in pictorial form. So you will still have a little entertaining to do in the middle of the store, but you can use that time to talk about what else is on “their” list or have them in search mode for items on your list. If you do not need an item on the list, simply cross it out, leave it check-less or put a zero in the # field. There are three modifiable fields for each item, you do not need to use all of them.  For younger children particularly, you may want to keep it as simple as possible.

The 3 types of fields on this list can be used to:

  1. Use the checkbox to indicate what you need, OR you can show your child that they may check the item off once they have placed it in the cart.
  2. Write a brief note about the item after it, either a specific type, or brand, or maybe specify “organic” or “DHA.”
  3. Write the number of each item you need in the # field. Find a system that works for you and your child. My Bug likes to know how many packaged units of eggs to buy, i.e., “1” means 1 dozen to her, while my Bear is very firm that the number refers to how many individual units we need, i.e., “12” means 1 dozen to him.

So now you have the shopping list, where do you find these fantastic little carts? I called all the Albertson’s in town and found the following to regularly have Kids’ Carts available:photo(5)

  • Blue Diamond & Decatur
  • Silverado & Maryland
  • Rainbow & Warm Springs
  • Anthem & Bicentenial
  • Eastern & Warm Springs
  • Stephanie & Horizon
  • Charleston & Town Center
  • College & Horizon
  • Desert Foothills & Charleston
  • Ann & Drexel

“Lake Mead & Boulder Hwy” and “Fort Apache & Sahara” both commented that they have a few periodically… apparently these have a tendency to wander beyond the property lines which is why the majority of the locations do not have them. :-/ If you know of any other stores in town that offer this amenity, please let us know!

A great big thank you goes out to Pettet Photography for the use of their studio and equipment and of course helping me create the original photos for the shopping list! I know you could have done a much better job, but I SO appreciate you teaching me to fish!

Happy Shopping!


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