You know the feeling... beads of sweat start to gather on your forehead, your heart is racing, your palms are clammy. Are you about to bungee jump? Go in for a job interview? Sadly, no. You are in the supermarket with your toddler.
Making it even worse, you can feel the eyes burning the back of your head, the other shoppers glaring at you as your kids alternately shoplift food you specifically told them they can't have, wail because the butcher is taking forever to wrap your deli meat or go missing in the cereal aisle.
Many a parent, present company included, have abandoned an entire, painstakingly loaded grocery cart at the checkout because one of their kids simply melted down beyond anything a hastily offered lollipop could bring within reasonable decibel levels.
So how do you navigate the supermarket with toddlers and come out with your sanity intact? Cinzia Cuneo, founder of SOS Cuisine, an online meal and grocery planning service, says the best way to avoid the unexpected (or perhaps the expected) is to plan ahead.
"First check the contents of your fridge and pantry to avoid wasting food," says Cinzia. If you don't do this in advance, you may also end up wasting time in the store, which can put a strain on already short little fuses.
After many years of trial and error, (emphasis on the error -- hey, we learn from our mistakes, right?) we've come up with our top five tips to make grocery shopping with little ones bearable.
Lianne & Andrea's Top 5 Grocery Shopping Tips
1. Schedule, people. You know when your kids are happiest... and when they're nastiest. So don't think you can whip into the supermarket right before naptime to pick up a few ingredients. Plan to go after the nap, in early morning, or on a full stomach. Whenever you know she's at her best.
2. Make it snappy! If you've done your homework and prepared a list, you won't be chasing your tail once you get to the store. Make the excursion short and sweet.
3. Get kids involved. We know how much they like to be mommy's helper. Instead of fighting it, why not give them simple tasks -- like placing unbreakables in the cart, or holding the re-usable shopping bags.
4. Play the grocery game. Any part of the shopping experience can be turned into a game, from helping count the potatoes going into the bag to finding a funny looking new fruit (kiwi? star fruit?) and talking about it.
5. Praise the positive. We are so ready to play bad cop, we forget about the good cop. Kids react well to positive reinforcement, even for the smallest good behaviours, like placing items on the checkout counter or not fighting with their siblings.