How I Grocery Shop With 4 Kiddos Under 5



I don’t know about y’all, but I love hearing people’s stories about how they do what they do. It seems that everyone has a certain secret that helps them be more efficient at a certain task. Well, here is my attempt at that. I am often asked questions on how I manage the little kids doing daily task. The one question that gets asked the most often is, “How do you grocery shop with them?” and “Why don’t you wait until your husband’s home?” These are my tried and true strategies for making it out of the store with everything on my list, no extras, and no tantrums.


-I’m telling ya, it all starts with parking. I always park in the spot closest to the rack of shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot. I do this for two reasons. 1) I get the “runner” strapped in before we cross the parking lot 2) At the end of the shopping trip I can buckle everyone in the car then return the cart to the rack while being only a few steps away from the car for safety purposes.


-Before I start getting everyone out of the car I go ahead and place my money, list, and grocery card in my back pocket. I do this so I’m not digging through my purse at the checkout counter.


– As for where all of the kids go…The 4 and 5-year-old walk beside me. The 2-year-old goes in the front seat. The 2 month old goes in my little carrier pouch I wear.


-I go in the same pattern every week and I try to go fast.


-If they are behaving I will occasionally give them some of the samples of fruit. If the behave the entire time then they get one of the free cookies that our grocery store offers.


-Once everyone is in the car and buckled and I have returned the cart they get a lot of praise for obedience and for helping me. I also try to remember to tell their daddy when they are around for extra positive reinforcement.


I would rather do all of this by myself because it encourages me to get in and out with no impulse buying.  I never want to feel that my kids are too rowdy to take somewhere. The only way they will learn is by going, doing, and seeing how to appropriately act. By the same token I can’t expect them to stay in  the store for an hour while I browse around. I must be quick and proficient.


What tips can y’all add? Is there something that you do and people are always asking how? Please share!



Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ Freedigitalphotos


Sharing this with: The Prairie Homestead A Mama’s story, Raising Arrows, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Growing Home, Time Warp Wife, Thankful Homemaker, Mamal Diane, Teaching What is Good,  Mom’s the word, conerstone cofessions, A proverbs 31 wife, Some of the best things in life are mistakes, Let this mind be in you, A Wise Woman Builds her home, Deep Roots at Home, Graced Simplicity, Raising Homemakers, Women Living Well, Hope in Every Season, Jill’s Home remedies, Little Natural Cottage, Our simple country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, The Purposeful Mom, Happy and Blessed Home, Homemaker by Choice, Your Thriving Family, My Joy Filled Life. New Life Steward, Hometead simple, Let this Mind Be in You,

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28 Responses to How I Grocery Shop With 4 Kiddos Under 5

  • katrina says:

    I also used these same techniques. When they were old enough I would put them in the backpack and keep them in there till they were too heavy! They loved being up high to see everyone, and would always let me know when “daddy” was in the store as soon as they saw a bald guy! 🙂 Autumn and LIla had to be separated at a certain age because they would mess with each other so much that I had to constantly discipline them in the store. Separation is the only way to keep that in check. Also, if they seemed to be having a hard time staying cool when they were tiny, I would pick up a freeze dried fruit package and let them eat them while I shopped, then be sure to pay for it when we got to the counter. It really kept them quiet and happy! Whew!

  • Stacy says:

    I have two boys 5 & 4 and while things are getting easier its not always been peaches. I hear all the time from friends, why don’t you go while your husbands home. I like taking them to teach them. How to be quiet, sit still, don’t touch anything on the register, and help. Why do people have kids if they aren’t going to teach them and take them out to do it. Now at 5 & 4 I have people telljng me every trip how good they are. It didn’t happen over night. Sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out, and sometimes I even got in the car and cried. But I didn’t give up. Thanks for another great post.

  • Wow – and to think I struggle to shop with two! When they were little, we always did the grocery store as a family, so one parent to one child – and each could sit in their own cart. Also allowed us to split up the list and get out of the store faster. Divide and conquer! They also love the produce section and I’d often get them a pint of blueberries, bucket of cherry tomatoes, grapes, etc and let them nibble while I shopped. Kept them occupied and quiet – and the snacks were healthy.

  • Stasia says:

    Good suggestions! I also think it is good that they get used to going and I am sure the older ones like helping!

  • Lisa says:

    Being prepared makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

  • Charlee Anne says:

    Hey, Brittany! I found you through the Mommy Moments link up this week.

    I also park next to the shopping carts, but I don’t go shopping with both of my kids…ever! You are brave for taking all 4 of yours! I’m sure I’ll have to take both at some point. Great suggestions!

  • Laurie says:

    You are right on the money about what you said! I pretty much do all of that with my crew too (6 kiddos!). It’s definitely best to park by the carts, and the only way they learn how to behave is by taking them along.

    Another thing that I make a point of doing (depending on the store… we do a lot of thrift store shopping) is start with the boring stuff first. If they are patient and have a good attitude (and generally they do) then after that, we do the more fun stuff… look at books or toys. And no, we usually don’t buy any, but it’s fun for them to look, that is reward enough. Oh, and my older ones do like to help as much as possible. It makes them feel important.

  • Deborah says:

    We had 3 children in 4 1/2 yrs and I usually did the shopping with them in tow. They were always expected to behave and if they did not they would sometimes get a pop on the behind. Guess it’s a good thing they are grown now or I might DSS on me for abuse. Anyway, once they were older, they were told if they behaved they could pick out one thing they wanted and it was purchased for them with the understanding that they would have to eat it, even if they found out they did not like it. I would try to steer them in the right direction but sometimes they made horrible choices. The youngest once swore he would eat chocolate coco puffs even after I reminded him he did not really care for chocolate. Could not talk him out of it so I bought it for him. He ended up disliking it and bribed his older brother to eat it for him ;0 He is now 32yrs old and doesn’t eat cold cereal. He works in Alaska now and on a recent trip home he thanked me for making him eat his peas. He is a very healthy eater and is amazed at what some of the guys will choose to eat ( ie 2 steaks and a potato for supper) and not eat (veggies).

  • Kerri says:

    I’ve gone shopping with all my children, as they all came along. So now we are up to 8! People think it is some magical feat! Ha, ha. It is a whole lot easier shopping with 8 than when I was shopping with 4!! For one thing my oldest is now 16. I still apply the same principals, but now I just have more helping hands.

    I will say, that I had a lot to learn when I had just a few children. My third gave me a run for my money, plus a few grey hairs. Before I had children I had seen someone using a ‘child leash’ (a small backpack on the child’s back taht had a tether attached for the parent to hang on to). I was appalled! Fast forward 8 years or so and I stopped a lady in the store who was using one to ask her where to get one!!!!!

  • Redd says:

    When our girls were small – 4, and 6 (twins), I always took them to the store. We lived about 1 hour from the nearest ‘real’ grocery, so I would always have 2 carts of groceries. The youngest would ride in the seat in my cart and the older two would “push” the other one, I held on to the front of the other cart for my own safety and the safety of others. They did pretty good, we only had one “incident”. On one trip, we got back out to the car and started loading the 2 carts of groceries, when we got to the stuff under the cart, the youngest twin noticed that the gallon of milk didn’t have a paid sticker on it. The girls were horrified. We had left the store without paying for the milk. And you could not leave the store with things you had not paid for. There had been a prior “incident with bubble gum” involving the youngest, about 6 months back. The oldest was scanning the receipt and declared that we had, indeed, not paid for the milk. The twins were very worried that the police were going to arrest us. Right now. Because that is what happens to people who steal. They were looking around for the police. Since the oldest was not quite able to read, I also scanned the receipt. *Deep Sigh* We had not paid for the milk. So we put the milk in the cart, the children in the cart and went back into the store. Back to the same cashier, who was thinking that any “normal” person would have just left. We paid for the milk, and most importantly we got a sticker for the milk and a receipt. The girls insisted that the cashier sticker the milk. We went home and had cereal for dinner.

    • Brittany says:

      Oh my! You get the good momma of the year award!I sure hope I would have carried everyone back in if I was in the same situation:) What a valuable lesson!

  • Diana says:

    Good tips! When my younger brother and I were old enough to walk, we were required to hold onto the cart at all times. I am an adult and if I am shopping with my mom, I still hold onto the cart out of sheer habit.

  • Magi says:

    Parking next to the cart corral was the first lesson I learned in “Shopping with kids 101”, and one that has stuck with me. Sometimes I find myself passing up perfectly good parking spots, looking for an open one next to the carts even though my kids 5, and 7 years, are old enough to walk next to me, or wait in the car safely while I return the cart one or two parking spots away. This post was a great reminder of all the mommy shopping tricks, since we have # 3 arriving in December 🙂

  • Brittany…Props to you mama! You have a great plan and your children know what is expected. It’s been so long since my children were that young but I do remember they had the rule of holding onto the cart at all times as we walked. I kept my list specific and that kept the time short in the store. Thank you for passing on your tips at Monday’s Musings. Tweeting and pinning.

  • Julie says:

    Unfortunately, our grocery store rarely has samples, however it does have a child watch area. I believe it’s for children 4 and up, who are potty trained, and they can stay in there for up to 1 hour. I usually use that and just take the younger ones with me. The hours are limited and they sometimes have a waiting list, so I usually come prepared with snacks in my purse for when we go there and it’s not open (which is frequently lol). I try to make grocery shopping into a game. For the kids that can read, I tell them the name of the item to look for. If they cannot read yet but do know their colors, I tell them to look for a specific color. I usually put my 9 month old in a front carrier, the almost 2 year old in the front of the cart, the 3 year old in the back of the cart, and my 6 and 7 year olds walk (holding onto the cart is a must). Luckily, my grocery store has an “expecting mommies or parent of small children” parking so I usually use that (it’s only a few spots from the cart holder).

  • Judith says:

    This caught my eye on Pinterest because I just wrote a post similar to this that is scheduled. Great minds think alike.

  • Kylie says:

    We train how to respond when they want something and Mom says “no”. For example, child asks for cookies, and Mom says “no”, and he responds with “why” or whining, I say, “you say ‘Okay Mama'”. So when they whine I now just say “what’s the correct answer?” And they know that means they say “yes Mama”.

  • Danielle says:

    I also have 4 kiddos, ages 7, 4, 2 and 4 months. I do my grocery shopping on Sunday afternoons when my husband is home with the kids. Honestly, I enjoy and need this alone time each week. It is seriously the ONLY time I get this alone time regularly. Plus the kids love having this special daddy time without me around. I know that I could be training them to be good and such in the store, but our arrangement right now really works well for our family. Plus since I only shop once a week for our family of 6 and we eat home 99% of the time I really need to concentrate and know what I am doing in the store.

  • Erin says:

    I have 7 (soon to be 8) and often have to take all or at least half of then shopping. The youngest is always either in my wrap/ergo, until about 15 months or so. The car seat is occupied by the next one up, and then the remaining youngest must walk holding onto the cart at all times. The older ones can walk behind or next to me, unless they get rowdy and then they put hands on the cart, too (which is embarrassing for them so it works well to help them remember to behave themselves). That way even if I step away from the cart to do something, the kids are all still together in one place, not grabbing and touching things and running wherever they feel like it. 🙂

  • Miriam says:

    I also have 4 under 5, and I do take them for little trips and errands for fresh fruit/ milk. But I shop for 2-4 weeks at a time so my hubby and I use it as a date which we can’t afford to go on anyway but it gives us a few hours alone together, plus he can lift all of the heavy things:) When I am out with the kids I always tell them before we get in the store how I expect them to behave and that helps a lot. And if they are good usually we have a popsicle or ice cream treat when we get home which is usually enough to make them be good the whole time! And yes you must park by the carts!!!

  • kelly says:

    As a mama of 6 (8 and under), we do most things on this list (exception are cookies). But one thing I would add is explaining the type of behavior I want from them before we go into the store (we walk by mom, we have quiet voices, and no dancing around(for the 6 year old girl) and no touching). I also during check out have the kids that are walking put their hands on a sticker/warning on the side of the counter, in kind of anchors them to one spot.

  • Jessica Ruiz says:

    Couldn’t have said it better! One thing I do is go over the rules before unbuckling, 1. We shop from the list, no asking for extras. 2. We use quiet voices. 3. No fightin or arguing. 4. We keep our hands to ourselves.

Hey Y'all! My name is Brittany Styron. Sweet Country Roots is a place I hope to encourage, inspire, and bring a chuckle. Grab yourself a cup of coffee and join conversations about marriage, babies, homeschooling, frugal living, good food, and an old fashioned way of thinking.

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