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5 Tips to Help You Survive Shopping Alone With Multiple Kids

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories of shopping trips with kids. Children causing mass hysteria as they run wild up and down the aisles, ripping into merchandise, screaming bloody murder on the floor at checkout.

shopping alone with kids

Sure, those things may happen, but I’ve rarely witnessed them as an innocent bystander. I’m sure some of the parents I’ve seen dealing with misbehavior felt that way. After having kids myself, I know that misbehaving in public isn’t always a thing you can easily control. The other day I re-read an old post I wrote about experiencing my first public meltdown while at a coffee shop with my daughter.

Was she being naughty?

No, she was just a baby who was overstimulated. My perception and judgement of myself was pretty harsh that day.

Still, it is quite one thing to venture out in public alone with one child, but what about two?


My 2.5 year old is still working on listening skills, though she tends to behave pretty well in public. I do think she has an issue judging distance because “stay close” means running and skipping several aisles ahead… without stopping until she randomly wonders where I am.

Now, I know there are some moms out there parenting all on there own and they are bound to have some great advice for how to manage tasks with your kids, like shopping. Whether you take them out alone or not, I hope you’ll find some tools to add to your parenting tool box. Kids constantly change the rules!

Tips to help you survive a trip to the store with the kids

  • Discuss expectations before going and again before getting out of the car.
  • Park close to a cart return – easier for getting them in and out of the cart right away.
  • Wear the youngest and keep another in the cart if you can. If there are children who must walk, try this tip provided by Savannah on our Facebook pageAttach large clip hooks to the side of the cart for the kids to hold as handles.
  • Bring a special treat or toy along (we keep suckers handy when old enough). I don’t suggest them to be used all the time, but as a treat/reward/bribe/pacifier as necessary.
  • Bring snacks.
  • Let them play on your phone.
  • Turn it into a game – spotting items, counting, etc.
  • Let them help picking out a couple items or crossing things off The List.
  • Try to go when they are well rested, not tired or hungry.
  • Be prepared to come up with creative discipline (such as must go in the cart if they wander away) or to just leave if needed.
  • Practice – if the kids rarely go along then they won’t learn how to conduct themselves. Start with short trips before doing a huge shopping trip where you fill 2 carts at Costco.

The ultimate goal is for every trip to go well. While it may still be a lot to manage everyone alone at the store with so many distractions and temptations… you don’t want them to see your fear. Don’t let them know your weaknesses!

I kid, but seriously, your kids need to learn what is expected when in public regardless of who is taking them. They will only learn it if you teach them.

What other tips would you add?

Laurel @Let's Go on a Picnic!

Saturday 25th of May 2013

My kids behave so much better when we talk about "the rules" before we leave and when we arrive.

Darcy Zalewski

Sunday 26th of May 2013

I think it helps to remind them. With my toddler I know she needs lots of reminders even if I forget that in the moment. I can tell she doesn't fully understand if she can repeat it back then immediately does what I told her not to though!