This Thursday Tutorial was inspired by the following comment I received from Cheap & Sweet in regards to doing 5 transactions at Walgreens with all 4 of my kids.
You are a better woman than me! I would not go near a walgreens with 4 kids and 5 transactions in mind.
I’ve also heard similar statements from moms at my son’s preschool.
My kids range in age from 11 to 3, which means I always have at least one or two with me, but in the summer and breaks I have all 4. Since my husband works very long hours, and I don’t have free baby sitters (i.e. family in the area), if I didn’t take my kids with me, I wouldn’t be able to shop unless it was midnight. That is past my bedtime so I choose to shop with my kids. Given that I don’t shop without coupons and getting the best deal, I am always Couponing with Kids in Tow.
I thought I would share some of my tricks that keep me and the kids from going crazy. I’m going to seperate it into 2 parts: shopping and cashing out.
- First, keep your youngest in the seat part of the shopping cart for as long as possible. My youngest just graduated out of the seat (he is 45 pounds and just too heavy for me to lift into the cart.) I will admit this makes shopping a bit more challenging, but it is still do-able.
- The next tip is something my youngest daughter came up with by herself when she was 4. When we enter the grocery store, she grabs a bag from the produce section. Then as we walk through the store, she keeps her eyes open for tear pad coupons and blinkies. She usually grabs one for me, and one for herself. Not only does this keep her busy, but I end up with some nice coupons. Along these lines, when I go to CVS, I let the kids scan my card and give them the coupons I know I won’t use.
- When I have all four with me, I put my youngest in his umbrella stroller and have one of the older ones push the stroller, while I push the cart. This keeps two of them occupied.
- Have your older kids (5+) get specific items for you. Show them the description on the coupon and have them get it.
- See if your store has a child care section. Giant Eagle does, but I have never used it. I personally am more afraid of the illnesses my children might bring home, and ending up with a sick house, than having them with me. Plus I think it helps them learn the value of couponing. My kids will ask for something, and then before I even respond say no I can’t have it because it’s not on sale and you don’t have a coupon for it.
- Buy 1 little thing that you know they would like (even if it’s not on sale) that you can offer as a reward. I usually get either Yo-Crunch Yogurt, Chocolate Milk or if they’re on sale fruit snacks.
Have your kids get in the act. I usually go through self check-out at the grocery store even though my cart is full so that I can easily break up the transactions to get the best deals. My kindergartner loves this because she gets to help.
- Have your kids bag – On my last shopping trip even my 3 year old helped with this. My 6 year old was so proud of herself because she taught him how to do it. He really enjoyed it because he was disappointed when I took a break at the end of a transaction, and cheered when I started a new one.
- Let them scan the items. Of course I hand it to them first to make sure it’s going in the right transaction.
- Have them insert the coupons into the drop box. My daughter even knows to get the pen from the credit card machine and stick it down in the bin to push the coupons down when the light doesn’t stop flashing green.
I also let them look at the magazines as long as they are careful with them, and check to make sure they are all in place before we leave.
I have three other bits of advice. First start them when they are young. My kids know that checking out takes a while because they’ve been exposed to it. They are used to it and usually behave. The second bit of advice, if the kids are going nuts, finish the transaction you’re on and end it. This usually gets me a bit upset, so I’ll offer a small bribe, such as an icee, in exchange for being able to finish the transactions.
Those are just my ideas, I would love to hear what other’s do to keep from going nuts while Couponing with Kids in Tow.