Monday, November 30, 2015

Every Parent's Nightmare: A Kid's Grocery Store Meltdown

The meltdown-free zone

Over the 25 years in our married lives with kids, I estimate that Julie and I have spent almost a full year engaged in the activity of "grocery shopping." This entails driving to and from the stores, actual shopping in the store, taking phone calls on the way out the store from frantic spouses saying, "We're out of diapers!" and dashing back inside, as well as other assorted grocery-shopping related ventures.

Seriously. Almost a full year of our collective lives in the gathering of food-related items to feed this tribe of Sabos.  It's at least in the neighborhood of 325 days based on some highly-scientific, even mathematical, big data gathering and algorithms. (Ok, ok ... the highly-scientific, even mathematical, data gathering and algorithms consisted of the following conversation.)

Me (to Julie, who is reading her Bible on the couch): "Hey babe, how many hours a week do you think we spend grocery shopping."
Julie: (Pauses...) "I don't know. Six. Or seven."
Me: "Sounds about right." (Whips out iPhone calculator to do some math.)

Virtually every trip to the store involves traveling with one or more Sabo wee lads or lasses, typically the youngest variety who like the adventure of modern-day hunting and gathering in a mostly safe setting. Not to mention that they hope to convince Mom or Dad that a bag of chips is essential to survival. I say mostly safe because one of the grocery stores in our range of foraging includes a Farm Fresh that has these nifty little carts that you see in the photo above. The kids love them. My heels don't. My last trip to Farm Fresh very nearly resulted in me becoming roadkill as Seth is still working out the kinks of staying in his lane, proper turn signaling and distracted driving. Next time I'm going to Farm Fresh it's in body armor and a helmet.

But as many parents know, grocery store shopping can bring out the worst in kids. It's more unusual for me to be in a store and NOT hear some kid having a total meltdown than to be in the store and it's a total-meltdown zone. So is it possible to take your kids grocery shopping and not be embarrassed? How have we at Sabo central survived all these years without being routinely embarrassed by one of our kids going max-unhinged in a shopping cart?

Good questions. For answers I turned to the resident family expert: Julie Sabo. Here's her cogent, insightful answer to grocery shopping with your kids and avoiding the inevitable meltdown in a Q&A format.

Julie: "If you are consistent with your training and discipline at home, you won't have a meltdown at the store."
Me: "Can you elaborate on that?" (As I'm taking notes...)
Julie: "Most parents aren't consistent at home with their discipline and training and the only reason they're bothered by a meltdown at the store is everybody is watching."
Me: "I agree. The meltdown-kid at the store is like a traffic accident. You can't help but look. And everybody looks."
Julie: "If you took the same care at home as if you were in a store you wouldn't have a public meltdown in the store."
Me: "So how does this training look at home?"
Julie: "Love them and train them consistently and they won't embarrass you at the store. These events aren't the kids' fault, but it's a message to the parents."

Here's my take on this: Consistency in discipline and training. That's the key to enjoying the shopping experience. Even with your kids.

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