As a busy mom, you’re list of quehaceres seems never-ending. From the time your alarm goes off in the morning until the moment you’ve tucked the kids in for the night, you’re moving non-stop.
Many of your day-to-day tasks can seem boring; done over and over again, they’ve become routine and you may even do them without thinking much about them, your brain and body operating on auto-pilot. But what if some of them — like grocery shopping — could actually be fun?!
It’s true: going grocery shopping has never been the most thrilling item on your to-do list, but you can boost the divertido quotient by getting your kids involved … seriously! Turning a supermarket trip into a learning adventure will mean quality time for you and the kids, who’ll be sure to bestow you with all sorts of “Best Mamá” points for your cleverness and creativity. And shhh … you don’t even have to tell them where these fun ideas came from!
Have a school-aged child who’s learning letters and words? Help them practice their writing and literacy skills by making them responsible for the grocery list. Give them a special pencil or pen, telling them it’s just for the shopping list. Older kids can write the list as you name the items you need to buy. For younger kids who are just beginning to sight read, create a stock grocery list, printing out a roster of the items you typically buy and adding a dozen or so blank lines where additional items can be written. Each time you get ready to go to the store, have your child circle or highlight the items you need to buy.
In addition to using the list to build up their reading and writing skills, you can use the grocery list to reinforce other concepts they’re learning at school, too. They can put the list in alphabetical order, have fun writing items in different colors, practice their Spanish by translating the list, or sort the items by type — put on a timer and challenge them to perform the task within a certain timeframe. If they’re learning about health and food choices, you can even print out a copy of the USDA’s “My Plate”, which is available in Spanish, too— ¡qué bien!
Numbers and math are more fun when they’re tied to real-world examples, and grocery shopping involves plenty of opportunities to have exciting teachable moments. If you’re a super shopper who’s always hunting for the best deal, turn the search for a bargain into a chance for your kids to practice their math skills. Older kids who know Internet safety rules (and who are being supervised by you or another adult) can be challenged to find the best deals at local grocery stores by using a price comparison website. Let them calculate the total cost savings achieved through their search. If your budget allows, sweeten the deal by letting them keep the money saved as a result, or put that money toward a family savings account (it can be as simple as a jar or piggy bank you keep at home) whose funds will pay for an outing or vacation!
Younger kids can get involved, too. Give them a pair of safety scissors and coupons from the Sunday paper, letting them test their hand-eye coordination by clipping. Then, have them sort the coupons by size (smallest to largest) or by the amount of savings.
True, you don’t want your kids turning the grocery store aisles into a race track, but by setting some clear, firm rules (Stay in your sight at all times; No running, definitely!), you and your kids can have fun at the grocery store by turning the shopping trip into an adventure challenge. Put one child in charge of finding, say, all the green items on your list. Have another one responsible for finding all the round objects on the list. Keep them guessing about the challenge by changing it up each week; on your next visit, have one child find all the items that start with an “a” (y no te olvides los Aguacates de México!) or all the objects that are smooth. Colors, shapes, textures, letters, and items with adjectives are all great ways to send them in search of the items on your shopping list. Let the “winner” of the contest choose a special treat that can be shared with the whole family.
Before, you chose the check-out line that seemed to move fastest: the aim was to get in and get out of the grocery store as fast as possible, ¿verdad? Now, the goal’s a bit different: find the line with the most patient-looking cashier or, if you have the option, the self check-out line! Once they’ve rung up your items, see if your kids can figure out how to pay the bill. This may require you to choose cash over plastic, keeping a variety of bills and coins in your wallet: ones, fives, tens, and twenties should be among the money you have on hand. They should also make sure the change they receive is correct.
Packing groceries isn’t as easy as it seems — there’s an art to making everything fit just right. Make sure you bring reusable bags from home and challenge the kids to pack the groceries like pros! Remind them that fragile items — eggs, bread, and certain vegetables and fruits, like ripe avocados — need to be packed with special care.
Bueno, you did it! You turned the trip to the grocery store into fun for the whole family. Now … if you could just make cleaning house so fun!