Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Grocery Shopping with Children

 

I have, since my eldest child was a newborn, always taken my kids grocery shopping with me. I have, in the past 10 years, received a vast array of reactions to taking my kids grocery shopping with me. For context, I have five children and they range in age from (almost) 10 years old down to two years old.

Grocery shopping is a regularly scheduled part of their lives. It takes place every other Friday and they know the routine well. They look forward to it and enjoy it, as do it. We approach it as our biweekly family adventure.

However, in April of this year, I took a break from bringing my children with me. Between capacity limits in the stores, looming mask mandates, and overall uncertainty and distrust, my husband and I thought it best if I shopped alone. And so I did, for a time.

But then it got to the point where my kids missed seeing the friends they have made at the stores where we shop. Did I mention they are on a first-name basis with the produce manager and their favorite cashier at our first stop? And also with one of the clerks at our second stop. And while management at Trader Joe’s may not know all of my children’s names, they do know that my kids prefer lollipops to toys as their prize for finding Joey (the stuffed kangaroo hidden in the store) and they generously give each child one of each flavor.

When I shopped childless, I was often asked how they were doing. And when they returned with me, both staff and customers, wherever we went, were very glad to see them. There’s just something about kids. And there’s just something about familiarity.

I’ve been scrutinized for shopping biweekly, to three separate stores, with five kids. Why do it when there are other options like online shopping, Instacart, or leaving them with my husband on a Saturday morning? The thing is, I think it’s important for multiple reasons.

First, I believe that children are a blessing, just like God says. And I think that whether people want to see my kids or not, they are still a blessing to others, especially when they are well-behaved. People need to see well-behaved children in public and they need to see big families in public. We’re like unicorns these days. Children are a reminder of life and of joy and the goodness of God to grant us those very things. And especially in weird and challenging times, people need those reminders. I’m glad my children can be those reminders.

And as an aside, since smiles are hard to come by these days thanks to mask mandates, my children’s maskless smiles make them that much more of a blessing to others.

Second, my children are themselves blessed by socializing with others. Homeschoolers take a lot of heat for their children not being “socialized” but I’ll tell ya, my kids, regularly exposed to people of all ages, walks of life, and ethnicities are far better socialized according to reality than kids who sit in the same classroom every single day, surrounded by the same kids, of the same age, with the same socioeconomic standing. My children are making friends with people in their community and building relationships all around them. I’m not willing to trade that for convenience.

And not only that, they’re learning. Bringing them with me provides multiple opportunities to teach them proper manners, how to politely interact with others, what small talk consists of, how to say “please” and “thank you” and when to step in and offer a helping hand to someone in need. Not to mention, they are watching me as I model everyday life skills. Grocery shopping with children is, like many things in life with children, a training opportunity.

This past Friday, our final stop of the morning was to a nearby warehouse store. My children, always delighted to help, immediately assisted one of the employees as she unloaded my cart onto the conveyor belt. And then, on the other side of the cashier, they joyfully assisted her as she put the items back into the cart. Both the cashier and the clerk assisting the cashier commented multiple times about what wonderful helpers my kids were and how adorable they are. I could see the joy in their eyes and I knew that interacting with my children gave them a quick break from the mundane. And my children left full of joy themselves, at the chance to be able to do something of value.

While it may not be exactly common or popular, and while it may be both challenging and frustrating, shopping with my children is significantly more beneficial than it is any of those things. To bless others and for them to be blessed during those few hours makes the effort and the experience meaningful and valuable. I don’t plan to change our routine anytime soon and I highly recommend it to others.

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  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy CarterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jessi Bridges: I highly recommend it to others.

    To go shopping with Yer kids? Are They available this Friday?

    • #1
    • November 16, 2020, at 7:30 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  2. EODmom Coolidge

    Hurray for you and them! Children should be part of many adult-ish activities and helping with taking care of the family. And – choosing their food will make it more likely they will wan to learn to prepare it – which is a LOT of fun – and enjoy trying something new they’ve picked out. And learning about budgeting – choosing what’s needed but not always what’s wanted; showing off developing reading skills when they find a product by name. This is a great story – we loved shopping with our (only one) son and have a grand time shopping with one or more of his four children. Don’t stop at the grocery – one of the girls can’t wait to get in the car with her dad when he’s going to the hardware store. Great story.

    • #2
    • November 16, 2020, at 7:40 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  3. KentForrester Moderator

    Wonderful post, Jessi. Just the thing on this rainy covid-19 Oregon morning. I hope to hear more about you and your five children in future posts. 

    • #3
    • November 16, 2020, at 7:41 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. JoelB Member

    Homeschoolers take a lot of heat for their children not being “socialized”, but I’ll tell ya, my kids, regularly exposed to people of all ages, walks of life, and ethnicities are far better socialized according to reality than kids who sit in the same classroom every single day, surrounded by the same kids, of the same age, with the same socioeconomic standing.

    Socialization- A straw man for the educational establishment.

    I can vouch for your statement from our own experience with five home schooled children. It just makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it. The liberals are fond of saying “It takes a village” to excuse their inroads on family life . Well, kids – meet the village under the oversight of a watchful parent who has your best interests at heart.

    I am glad that we took some time with a home schooled family when our oldest were not yet school age to ask questions. They told us it was an advantage in every way. They were right.

    • #4
    • November 16, 2020, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  5. Vance Richards Member
    Vance RichardsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My wife would go shopping with the kids when they were younger. She would have to watch the conveyor belt at check out to stop the unauthorized candies and cookies that somehow made it that far from getting scanned. Now that the kids are older she will occasionally bring me along which means more junk food but she can’t veto my choices.

    • #5
    • November 16, 2020, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. EB Thatcher

    Great post. Apparently your children are well-behaved. Sincere compliments to you (frankly you are an outlier.)

    Most of the times I’ve seen mothers with kids at the store (even just one or two, not five) it’s a mess – screaming when they don’t get something they want, blocking the aisles, running around, playing with produce, etc. And the mothers appear to just tune it all out, totally unaware that everyone else is turning around to go the other way, grimacing at the piercing shrieks, sighing, etc.

    • #6
    • November 16, 2020, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  7. iWe Reagan
    iWeJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wonderful! May your children always be a source of joy to you and others!

    • #7
    • November 16, 2020, at 8:44 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. D.A. Venters Member

    EB (View Comment):

    Great post. Apparently your children are well-behaved. Sincere compliments to you (frankly you are an outlier.)

    Most of the times I’ve seen mothers with kids at the store (even just one or two, not five) it’s a mess – screaming when they don’t get something they want, blocking the aisles, running around, playing with produce, etc. And the mothers appear to just tune it all out, totally unaware that everyone else is turning around to go the other way, grimacing at the piercing shrieks, sighing, etc.

    I’m sorry about that. But Mom’s always like, “You’re 44, why can’t you buy your own Count Chocula?” And I’m like, “Gawd, Mom, maybe I could if you would have paid for college! Seems like a couple of boxes of cereal is bargain for you!” And then it just goes downhill from there. Sorry you had to witness that.

    • #8
    • November 16, 2020, at 9:29 AM PST
    • 17 likes
  9. Mim526 Member

    EB (View Comment):

    Great post. Apparently your children are well-behaved. Sincere compliments to you (frankly you are an outlier.)

    Most of the times I’ve seen mothers with kids at the store (even just one or two, not five) it’s a mess – screaming when they don’t get something they want, blocking the aisles, running around, playing with produce, etc. And the mothers appear to just tune it all out, totally unaware that everyone else is turning around to go the other way, grimacing at the piercing shrieks, sighing, etc.

    Need more mothers like Jessi, don’t we?

    I loved this post, @jessibridges. Made me thankful for my own mother who, even though she had to work, took time and care to nip behavior like @EB describes (too common unfortunately) in the bud pronto :-). Bless you and your family.

    • #9
    • November 16, 2020, at 9:32 AM PST
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Jon Gabriel, Ed. King

    Kids are definitely a blessing. One of the best, and totally unexpected, things about moving to an Orthodox church is that children are there for the liturgy. Not sure if my priest wants to hear this, but one of my favorite parts is watching the kids being kids. Toddlers wandering around, playing peekaboo with the baby a row in front of me, the 9-year-old boy struggling to stay in his seat because he just wants to run around (my younger self can totally relate).

    Now that my girls are 16 and 19, it’s also a good chance to reassure those tired parents that we’re fine watching their kids act like kids, and that we appreciate their hard work.

    • #10
    • November 16, 2020, at 11:07 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Hurray for you! You had a lot of kids! You are raising them to be regular people! You know that the best way to learn how to act politely in public is to go to public places with your children! 

    This was our family thirty years ago. I can imagine that your five children stir up some looks and rude comments today, too. How nice that the people who work at the stores you frequent are pleasant and cheerful with your children. It helps your children to learn that people are generally nice if you’re nice, too. 

    This is not to say that meltdowns won’t happen! Or diaper disasters won’t occur! Or you won’t meet up with some really obnoxious person who feels the need to judge you out loud!

    These things all happened to me thirty years ago, too. But you should just keep on being a proud, willing, awesome mother because the next thirty years will fly by at warp speed, and you’ll be happy you did all these things with your family now!

     

    • #11
    • November 16, 2020, at 12:13 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone CowboyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    @jessibridges

    Great post! Thank you sharing your experiences. I had similar experiences with my kids.

    Years ago it was how I accustomed my very young (8-9 yo) daughter to start comparing nutritional labels, ingredients, prices, name brands versus store brands etc. Now in her mid thirties, she’s still a very careful grocery shopper. And how she loved Home Depot! I never lacked for companionship if I told her I needed to go to Home Depot. Good times… (sigh). I think that Home Depot should sponsor father-child Saturdays so that our kids could learn about the reeeaaly important stuff in life.

    • #12
    • November 16, 2020, at 12:33 PM PST
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  13. Jamie K. Wilson Member

    EB (View Comment):
    e

    I see kids like that all the time, as well as the sweet well-behaved ones. When the rude, misbehaving kids are older, it irks me, but when babies and toddlers cry I just smile and smile.

    Because they’re not MINE.

    • #13
    • November 16, 2020, at 12:39 PM PST
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  14. Manny Member

    Jessi Bridges: I’ve been scrutinized for shopping biweekly, to three separate stores, with five kids. Why do it when there are other options like online shopping, Instacart, or leaving them with my husband on a Saturday morning? The thing is, I think it’s important for multiple reasons.

    Why would anyone “scrutinized” you for shopping with your kids? Am I so old fashion to think this is the norm? What are parents supposed to do?

    Anyway, what you do is commendable. It’s actually loving. I always get a positive tick in my heart from seeing a mother with children.

    • #14
    • November 16, 2020, at 1:40 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Kay Ludlow Member

    I love bringing my toddler to the grocery store. First, her reaction to seeing mass quantities of her favorite foods is priceless (the cherry tomato display is always a winner). Second, it gives her an opportunity to interact with more adults than just us and her teachers at daycare. She eats it up and most of the adults do too.

    • #15
    • November 16, 2020, at 1:45 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  16. Full Size Tabby Member

    I too support having well-behaved children in public.

    A particularly happy experience I remember from just pre-Covid was at Aldi supermarket (so everything is self-service) in the checkout line behind a mother who had two children with her, but who was clearly shopping for a much larger family, and I (I’m grandfather aged) had the opportunity to “help” the toddler who insisted on “helping” her mother transfer groceries from the cart to the conveyor belt. Toddler and I had a fine interaction that brightened my day. 

    Our daughter likes the efficiency of going to the supermarket by herself, but also likes going with our two small grandchildren, as the staff always brightens up when they are with her. 

    • #16
    • November 16, 2020, at 2:39 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. Annefy Member

    Hats off to you.

    Grocery shopping was never anything that I was good at nor enjoyed. I only did it when my children were small when absolutely necessary. And nothing was absolutely necessary as I always had neighbors I could borrow from.

    I did make a few valiant attempts; the last I remember son #3 was a toddler and we had to abandon a somewhat full shopping cart. In hindsight we realize his meltdowns were related to large, cavernous buildings. Grocery stores, church, etc. I guess it was the echo? That said, he was also afraid of getting his picture taken (I told everyone he was Native American and thought his soul was being stolen) Lucky me: a sister, a brother, and a good friend all got married during that time. Much time hissing under the table where he was ensconced.

    So JY making a trip to the grocery store after dinner with a child or two in tow happened several times a week. Only daughter became adept at slipping something into the cart. And JY had the added benefit of becoming very popular with all the moms at our kids’ school who recognized him because they recognized whatever kid he had. He is still largely considered to be The. Best. Husband. Ever.

    One story my mom loved telling: the checker looking at the expiration date on a diaper coupon, then glancing back at JY. By that time he had his hands clasped in prayer. And she honored it.

    All his experiences were so positive, I concluded that dads with kids are a novelty and are treated as such. All the mommies and grannies telling him how cute his kids were and holding doors open for him and honoring expired coupons.

    I’m better about it now that I can shop by myself, but man … do I buy in bulk. We have space now; if I need one, I buy three.

    • #17
    • November 16, 2020, at 3:46 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone CowboyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kay Ludlow (View Comment):

    I love bringing my toddler to the grocery store. First, her reaction to seeing mass quantities of her favorite foods is priceless (the cherry tomato display is always a winner). Second, it gives her an opportunity to interact with more adults….

    @kayludlow

    And I’ll bet my last dollar that you interact a lot with her in the store. There are so many teachable moments. I used to hand my 9yo daughter, say, the national brand of tinned peas and the store brand. Hers job was to read and compare the ingredient label and to tell me which of the two to buy, based on ingredients and price. She had fun and (mostly) got it right. As you might guess, I was not a fast shopper.

    At toddler age though, her intellectual efforts were largely focused on surreptitiously trying to open the Oreos bag in the cart without Dad noticing. For a time I expected her to become cat burglar. And when caught red handed and trying to explain herself, I would have fuzzy premonitions of her possible future as a criminal defense attorney.

    I’ve noticed that many of the discipline issues I see in the shops occur when the child is being ignored by a mum/dad whose is too absorbed in a smartphone. What wasted opportunities!

    • #18
    • November 16, 2020, at 6:23 PM PST
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. JJM Member

    Great post @jessibridges and totally agree on how undervalued the learning component of these types of activities is. As you say, it’s not just discovering how to behave in public and build relationships with all different types of people, but also the right-sized training opportunities it offers for being a responsible adult.

    Having lived in three very different places over the past few years, in both size and political orientation, it has been interesting to see how “cultural” approaches to kids in public can vary, and not always in expected ways.

    • #19
    • November 16, 2020, at 7:31 PM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    Annefy (View Comment):
    I concluded that dads with kids are a novelty and are treated as such.

    I absolutely think this is the case too! My husband and I often compare comments we receive from strangers while out with the kids. His are much more positive and pleasant. 

    • #20
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:08 AM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    EODmom (View Comment):
    one of the girls can’t wait to get in the car with her dad when he’s going to the hardware store.

    Yes! My kids fight over who gets to go with dad to the hardware store. Sometimes he’s nice and takes them all. And when he does, he gets treated like some sort of hero by the employees!

    • #21
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:10 AM PST
    • Like
  22. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    JoelB (View Comment):
    I can vouch for your statement from our own experience with five home schooled children.

    I always appreciate the encouragement I get from families who are further ahead in this than we are. Thank you!

    • #22
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:12 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    EB (View Comment):
    Most of the times I’ve seen mothers with kids at the store (even just one or two, not five) it’s a mess – screaming when they don’t get something they want, blocking the aisles, running around, playing with produce, etc. And the mothers appear to just tune it all out, totally unaware that everyone else is turning around to go the other way, grimacing at the piercing shrieks, sighing, etc.

    It’s hard to watch when this happens! I was adamant from the beginning that we train them from day one so it’s something familiar. That doesn’t mean it always goes perfectly, but my kids do know the expectations. One thing they are used to hearing me say is, “watch out for other people. Make sure not to get in anyone’s way.”

    • #23
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:16 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):
    Now that my girls are 16 and 19, it’s also a good chance to reassure those tired parents that we’re fine watching their kids act like kids, and that we appreciate their hard work.

    We are part of a Reformed family integrated church and the kids are with us as well during service. It’s one of my favorite parts (as exhausting as it can be on some Sundays). I very much appreciate comments and encouragement like these!

    • #24
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:19 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    Limestone Cowboy (View Comment):
    I never lacked for companionship if I told her I needed to go to Home Depot.

    My kids absolutely love Home Depot trips with their dad!

    • #25
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:20 AM PST
    • Like
  26. Jessi Bridges Contributor
    Jessi Bridges

    Manny (View Comment):
    Why would anyone “scrutinized” you for shopping with your kids? Am I so old fashion to think this is the norm?

    It’s quite bizarre to me the comments that total strangers are comfortable making about my kids when we’re out. And when I was shopping with kids and visibly pregnant.. I could write a whole essay on the reactions I got then!

    • #26
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:22 AM PST
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  27. Vance Richards Member
    Vance RichardsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jessi Bridges (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    I concluded that dads with kids are a novelty and are treated as such.

    I absolutely think this is the case too! My husband and I often compare comments we receive from strangers while out with the kids. His are much more positive and pleasant.

    People have lower expectations for dads (and that’s probably not wrong). Years ago, the wife dragged me along for a family trip to the mall. My daughter was a toddler so we had her in the stroller but at one point my wife took her out and walked with her. So, went ahead while pushing an empty stroller. An Asian woman pointed at the empty seat in the stroller and said, “Where you’re baby!?! You lost you baby!”

    I looked down and said, “Again? Hey, if you see one crawling around could you let me know?”

    • #27
    • November 17, 2020, at 7:22 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  28. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailorJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jessi Bridges (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    Why would anyone “scrutinized” you for shopping with your kids? Am I so old fashion to think this is the norm?

    It’s quite bizarre to me the comments that total strangers are comfortable making about my kids when we’re out. And when I was shopping with kids and visibly pregnant.. I could write a whole essay on the reactions I got then!

    Before we had kids of our own we were foster parents, back in the 1970’s. One time we had a little blond haired boy and a blond haired girl, both about 3 yrs old, cute as could be. They weren’t related and obviously not to us, a dark haired young married couple. More than once when Mrs. OS had them with her while shopping someone would ask if they were twins, no, she’d reply. So how far apart are they? Five months! Invariably there were no more questions ;>)
    Life is so much fun.

    • #28
    • November 17, 2020, at 8:04 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    My dad took me shopping as a kid and taught me to comparison shop and read unit prices. Saved me $$$.

     

    • #29
    • November 18, 2020, at 2:54 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. Full Size Tabby Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    My dad took me shopping as a kid and taught me to comparison shop and read unit prices. Saved me $$$.

     

    Our two children loved going on errands with their grandfather. He was a retired engineering professor, so trips to the store became math lessons. 

    • #30
    • November 18, 2020, at 5:14 AM PST
    • 1 like