You probably thought the definition of insanity was doing the same thing twice and expecting different results. That is…until you read the title of this post. Then, maybe you reworked your definition, huh? But we actually purposefully make the choice to take our toddler grocery shopping. Every. Single. Week.
And we like the results!
In a world where delivery service after deliver service is cropping up, people often suggest that we should get our groceries delivered. In fact, the grocery ecommerce industry grew over 18% last year and shows no signs of slowing. While I don’t have anything against Instacart (How could I? I’ve never tried it!), I thought I’d share why we take our son grocery shopping each week…and why we really enjoy it!
Why Don’t I Just Use Instacart?
There are myriad reasons why someone might choose to have their groceries delivered–dodging crowds, saving time, and even sheer necessity. I actually don’t have anything against grocery delivery services in particular (provided you’re not a bad tipper!). I’m leery of the gig economy in general, but that’s another post for another day.
I am a huge proponent of spending time where it counts. And if zigzagging your cart up and down the aisles and unpacking and repacking your items isn’t where it’s at for you, I can respect that. I feel the same way about our cleaning service! I won’t be quite so dramatic to call it a need, but I do think it’s probably at the very tippy top of my list of wants.
If I don’t dislike grocery services, why don’t I use them? Because I actually enjoy grocery shopping. I know some parents talk about it fondly. Much like escaping to the bathroom behind a locked door, it’s a bit of a reprieve for them. But I actually lug my toddler to the grocery store, so there’s no momentary suspension of parental duties here. That’s actually why I enjoy it even more.
Kid Money Lessons at the Grocery Store
Kids pick up things all the time. Every parent ever knows that. Especially if you’re ever accidentally said the word “sh!t” on a road trip when the navigation system failed. And then your son repeated it for the next, oh, 50 miles or so.
Hopefully, I can also teach my son positive lessons. And some of the positive lessons that I hope to impart have to do with money.
One of the aspects of grocery delivery that is heralded by many is the fact that it limits impulse purchases because you do your shopping online. Clearly, those people have never seen my online shopping cart at Target (it’s holding both quinoa and footsie pajamas right now if you must know).
It’s not that I’m somehow immune from making impulse purchases at the grocery store. It’s just that the occasional impulse buy is outweighed by these other lessons my son is learning.
Lesson 1: Shop From a List
HP only fake reads right now, so he can’t shop from the same list that I use. However, we get the store circular mailed to our house (no matter how many times I put us on the No Junk Mail List). So now, we circle a few items and bring it to the store with us.
Once there, we show him the paper and HP, well–HP basically fetches them the same way that my in-laws’ dogs chase after a ball. When HP brings the item over to the cart, he’s met with a similar level of fanfare, too. Because I’m trying to set a positive example for him, I mostly stay out of the impulse buy aisle at Aldi (I’m sure it has an actual name–but it’s the place where I find seasonal deals on things I don’t need like stationary and vacuum storage bags. Oops.), which means we really do stick to our list.
Lesson 2: Prioritize
Have I taught my two year old the value of a dollar? Not a chance. Sometimes, I have a hard time deciding if that’s actually a lesson I’ve truly learned or not.
But I do think my husband and I both get gold stars for helping him practice prioritizing. One of his favorite things to do is actually buy something (put it in the cart, put it on the conveyor belt, hand over a dollar, say thank you, the whole shebang!), so we usually plan on allowing him to purchase one snack while we are at the store. Sometimes he debates between an apple and a banana. Other times, he picks an applesauce pouch. To be totally transparent, he usually starts with about four. Then, we whittle it down to one and talk about how his “one buck” is going to buy one pouch.
Lesson 3: Think of Others
Giving is important to us. While we don’t give as much as we’d like, we do make it a point to give to charitable causes each month. In addition to donating money and our time, I also always purchase food and grocery items to donate. Every time I grocery shop. Always.
RELATED POST: Three Overlooked Donation Options for Food Pantries
And my son is equally interested in giving, albeit for slightly different reasons. Our library has a little free pantry (like this!) and HP is pretty obsessed stocking the shelves whenever we visit. It’s like playing in his pretend kitchen and market but out in the real world.
So when we grocery shop, we always talk about how we are able to buy food for ourselves and now we are going to share with our neighbors. We then give HP some options, and he picks something to donate later.
Is my son perfectly behaved in stores? Hahahaha.
But he is pretty fantastic most of the time. He uses an “inside” voice, and he smiles and waves to the cashier. Plus, he belts out a “Taaaank you!” with terrific consistency at the end of each transaction.
His “school” and toddler tumbling classes give him plenty of opportunities to interact with other toddlers and a handful of teachers. But being out in the grocery store lets him see the world as it truly is–not the version that is tailor-made for people who are largely the same age, height, and developmental level as him.
He’s also learning how to deal with boredom. Of course, there are moments of desperation where one of us will placate him with a game on our phone or an episode of Peppa Pig. But generally, he’s much happier playing I Spy, practicing reading all the numbers he spots around the store, and organizing the shelves. Yup. If a can is turned around or there’s garbage on the floor, HP to the rescue. Every few weeks, a kind soul at Aldi offers him a job, only half in jest.
It Won’t Always Be Like This
Though we try to spend at least an hour outside a day (yes, even on work days, and yes, even in the winter!), it’s hard to do much more than that when it’s so cold and so dark. Right now, the grocery store is as exciting as the library. And sometimes he’d rather go to the actual supermarket than play in his pretend kitchen in the basement. So it’s an adventure with Mom and Dad as much as it is a chance for him to learn a little and help with errands.
Of course, this won’t last. In a few more years, he’ll be restless at the thought of losing time with friends. Or perhaps, he’ll be too committed with homework or music or sports or whatever other interests he develops, and he won’t be able to grocery shop with us.
Or maybe he’ll just realize a simple fact: I am not that cool.
Whatever happens, I know this time is short lived. So for now, I’ll make my grocery list on paper and head out to Aldi once a week. There might be Instacart in my future, but right now I really enjoy these trips to the grocery store.
So Tell Me…What habits or routines do you have that people might question? Do you still grocery shop in person?