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Board of Directors Report: Shopping With Kids PDF Print E-mail

by Emilie Kornheiser
December 2015

I hope you've seen Bill Forchion's fantastic music video set in the Co-op!

 It starts off with a familiar scene to many parents—three kids swarming the cart asking for everything they can get their hands on—and Bill, exhausted, with an escalating series of “no” before he starts dancing to it.
When my son was two or three someone passed on the brilliant phrase, “It’s not on the list,” and that one saved me years of suffering. The temper tantrum in the aisle is a parenting rite of passage and a developmental milestone—and it's a measure of a community how bystanders react.

So given all this—why do we bring our children shopping with us? Well, mostly because we have to. And there are some benefits if you have the energy to exercise them. Our shareholders have a range of strategies, tactics, and habits for family shopping. Some families go for the divide and conquer technique. One family I know never shops with the kids—with one of them stopping on the way home from work with a list. The kids’ room is a resource that families use in a range of ways: one family always goes together, with one parent hanging in the kids room and another getting the shopping done. When my son was younger, we saved the kids’ room for a break at the end—after we gathered our groceries we would stop for some play time on the way out. The kids’ room is also staffed regularly—a great opportunity to do shareholder hours with a kid in tow or alternatively get your shopping done without one.

Another option is full engagement. I love seeing parents chatting their way down the aisle with a toddler as they narrate the entire event—teaching about the constant deliberative process that is shopping. The unit price listed for each item on the shelves has created a fun tension in my own family as my son points out the item that is less expensive than the one I'm purchasing and I then have to explain the ethical or aesthetic reason why I've picked the pricier item. And then there is the bulk aisle—the bane and joy of families everywhere. The Bulk department is ideal for trying a small quantity of a new product on picky eaters, saving money, or getting ingredients for a Crock-Pot. It's also a fantastic opportunity for little ones to practice their hand-eye coordination, be little helpers, and frustrate their parents. The pincer grip for the tongs in the mixed greens or spices, the handles in the dried beans, and best of all—the scoops in the flour section. Patience and quick reflexes can take you far here. And caregivers with extra time to kill dive straight into the sensory experience—smelling each spice and herb in Bulk, tasting samples in the Cheese section, and trying on lotions in Wellness.

And for parents of toddlers who pine for the old days of a shopping trip that didn't require a military strategist—there is hope on the horizon. Older kids who have grown up feeling like the Co-op is theirs, and knowing the shopping list, can now “divide and conquer.” My son and I finish our list in half the time and I still have a fe minutes to leisurely browse the wine section while he exercises his independence and chats with neighbors.

Yours in solidarity,