Shopping with Children Project Management Style


I remember the days when I was child free and I’d head into the city for a new work suit and a shiny new pair of stilettos. It’s not so easy now, but with a little bit of sharing it can be manageable.

I manage it a bit like a work project, dividing the shopping project into tasks. Now we both know there will be risks and we need to mitigate those risks with a bit of forward planning. I suggest the following:

Task 1: Coffee and a muffin

Let’s be realistic. Parents in general need coffee. Kids need food, to keep them happy and compliant (and for nutritional purposes).

Your first task needs to be food, a drink, and a kick-off meeting. You should chat about and agree on the project schedule as well as any incentives for your shopping buddy.

At the completion of the team meeting you should have a toilet break. You don’t want to find yourself in front of the last pair of shoes in your size, only to find that your shopping buddy needs a toilet break NOW!

No one likes scope creep.

Task 2: Shop 1, the child’s choice

Having discussed the project schedule with your child, you both know that the first shop you head to will be for the child. It’s a look in a toy shop to spend their pocket money, a play at the shopping centre jungle gym or similar. It’s all about mutual benefit. If you want good behaviour for the duration of the project, you need to share.

Task 3: Shop 2 – the parent’s choice

Having pleased the child with Task 1 and 2, it’s your turn to get what you need to get done. The shopping buddy will understand this and be compliant. After all, they know that they have had their turn and there will be another task coming up on the project schedule that belongs to them.

Task 4: Shop 3 – the parent’s choice

This is where you schedule that quick dash into grab something you know will only take a couple of minutes. Depending on the age of your shopping buddy, you can’t have too many turns before they get another one. Sharing is good.

Task 5: Lunch – the parent & child’s choice

Somewhere healthy but somewhere that is not too sterile, as it needs to be entertaining to the eye of a child. If it happens to be at a cafe where there are colouring pages and pencils you’re in luck.

Task 6: Shop 4 – the parent’s choice

Because you’ve fed your shopping buddy in a child friendly place, you should have some good child behaviour up your sleeve. You can now progress to the next parent task.

Task 7 – 100: Repeat

I think you get the picture. If you get to Task 100 I applaud you, you have one amazing child.

Project Conclusion:

Don’t forget to celebrate project success. A big hug and a thank you never hurt anyone and it’s great for moral.

Any lessons learnt for the next trip?

Perhaps more toilet breaks, a game of eye spy between shops? I started this routine when my child was 4 and it still works well at 8.

Good luck.

Do you go shopping with your child(ren)? What tips would you give?



  • bodyandfeetretreat

    I do go shopping with my child but thankfully she often drives us there and will provide me with morning tea if I forget my bag at home !!!!!
    A used to threaten K with all sorts of punishment when we went out shopping – mainly because I hated shopping and if she started to whinge I would be “Right, that’s it – let’s just go home because I can’t be bothered – it’s just too hard !!!!”
    Sounds like you have a winning formula !!!
    Me xox

    • Katrina

      It’s not a solution for all kids, but an approach that works for me. Sounds like you’ve got a good deal going on.

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  • Helena

    fantastic writing :) and oh too true!