How to keep your sanity when you bring youngs kids out for public events or shopping


I have 4 boys, my oldest is 6.  At one point I had 4 kids under age 4!! So going out in public or shopping with these 4 BOYS has taught me a few lessons.  I’ve had TERRIBLE, and I really mean TERRIBLE experiences.  Then I have had no fuss, no chaos experiences.  Let me tell you a couple of of my worst case and best case scenarios and how to plan accordingly next time…

Shall I start with the worst first?  Then it will prepare you for my best……

When my last son was only an infant, I had this ludicrous idea to take them all grocery shopping with me.  Partly because I’m stubborn, and partly because I wanted to prove that I could.  So I had an infant, a 1 year old, a 3 year old and a 4 year old (ALL BOYS!!!!) So we venture off to Tops Grocery Market to snag some deals and I decided that since it was really difficult to get to the store with young kids, I was going to make it a stock up shopping trip and buy enough food to last a few weeks.  Raise your hand if you already think this is a bad idea? I hope your hand is up.  I like to blame this bad idea on the fact that I just had a baby and my hormones were causing me to not think clearly.

So we’re in the store, first of all HOW AM I GOING TO FIT EVERYONE IN THE CART? I had this bright idea to put the baby in the strap on carrier, put my 1 year old in the front of the cart, my 3 year old in the back of the cart and let my 4 year old walk.  Well I always picture it differently in my mind than what really happens.  So I get my little guy strapped in and my 1 year old in the cart. My 3 and 4 year old are fighting over who gets to walk because of course they both wanted to.  So I let them! Why? I am not sure! So in the store all is going ok until my 3 year old starts crying and screaming that he has to pee.  RIGHT NOW! Agh! We go into the ladies bathroom, and I decided that while we were in there, we might as well all use the bathroom.  So I take my newborn and 1 year old in the stall with me and my 3 and 4 year old go in the next stall.  Unfortunately there was a woman in the last stall.  Have you ever brought a kid in the stall with you? I highly recommend not doing it! I had not one, but two, kids in with me.  What was I thinking?, this was getting ridiculous.  So then I hear the boys flush the toilet next to me. I’m trying to maneuver in the stall with these two other boys when I hear “Stop it, stop it right now you naughty boys!” Ummmmm, my heart stopped!! My 3 and 4 year old were peeking under the stall at the woman next to me and laughing out loud.  I was scared to even come out! I yelled at them and quickly rushed out and grabbed them, and of course it was just in time for the woman to open the door and give me the worst look imaginable.  OK, lets regroup and head back out to my next nightmare……So then in the store, I spent the majority of my time chasing, disciplining, and bribing my kids! I couldn’t even focus, finally I get to the checkout aisle.  So at this point I have my 3 year old in the back of my cart because he was being so naughty.  I am putting my groceries on the belt when I hear this terrible crash.  My 4 year old knocked over an entire candy bar display. He had crawled under it and the whole thing fell forward.  Every pack of gum was on the floor, he started crying and I really wanted to! 3 employees quickly came over to help and they assured me that it was no big deal. So meanwhile back in the cart, another catastrophe was in the making.  The poor little woman in front of me put all of her groceries on the belt, the last thing she put on was a package of ground beef.  Then I hear the cashier say “Um, ma’am” No please, don’t let her be talking to me.  I looked up, and she was holding the package of ground beef up in the air.  My son had poked his finger into the package of ground beef.  Not once, no of course not once…..a gazillion times!!! “I said “Jacob, why did you poke your finger into her meat?” and he looked at the woman and said “That’s not your meat because you didn’t pay for it yet”.  If I could have cried right then, I would have!!! But my 4 year old was still crying over the gum, and my 1 year old was trying with all of his might to climb out of my cart. That was a major lesson learned! Ok, so that was my worst trip. Stop and visualize the whole thing, ok now let’s move on…..

On the other hand, I have had great trips with all 4 of them where no one whines, no one cries over not getting candy, no one is fighting, and no babies are screaming.  I have had trips that my kids have helped bag my groceries, held on to the cart the whole time and never made a peep.  How can I have a trip like this after such a nightmare trip?  Here are some tips of what I do before I take my kiddos in the store with me along with some tips for taking your kids to a public place such as a park, store, amusement park, appointment, etc…



1) Don’t take tired kids anywhere – I have told myself this golden rule over and over again and sometimes I really don’t have a choice and I bring a tired little one anyway and I have learned that EVERY time I do this, I bring havoc on myself.  My oldest son has a little birthmark near his eye, and he gets treatments on it every few months. Well he has had over a dozen treatments and does very well.  There are a couple times that ended miserably and they were both when he did not get enough sleep.  One night he stayed at his cousins house and was up all night long and then went to an appointment the next day.  Let’s just say that the doctor cancelled the treatment because he was acting so bad.  This was my fault.  Kids need to obey and behave regardless of whether or not they are tired, but we need not test the limits as parents.  Don’t plan things if its during nap time, or if your kiddos are already grouchy.  Trust me when I tell you that it does NOT work well.



2) Set the ground rules- I shop with all 4 boys all the time, I take them to appointments with me, and here’s another key, tell them the ground rules before you step foot out of the car.  Let them know what the consequences are if they do not obey you or if they misbehave while you’re there.  I usually tell my kids their consequences but also let them know of a reward if they show me their best behavior.  They’ll get a pack of candy to share, or we’ll buy ice cream or popcorn that we will eat later that night, if they are good.  Stick to your guns with this.  Today, I brought my two boys into the store and let my son know that if he misbehaved he would be punished when we got home and he would not get a pack of candy when we leave.  He had a listening problem the entire time we were in the store, I gave him one warning that if he didn’t start obeying me that he would not get any candy and he would get a punishment at home.  So he ended up with no candy, and a punishment.  He begged me and told me how nice he would be from then on. But I didn’t give in for this reason…if I did, it would teach him that he could behave however he wanted and still get rewarded.  Not on my watch little man, I still adore him though 🙂



3) Tell your kids what to expect- If there is a lot of traffic in the parking lot, make sure they know that.  If a park or place is crowded, make sure they know that.  Let them know what you expect of them.  Example)Hold on to my cart, stay by my side, help your brother, where they can play (if you’re at a park or an event), where they cannot go, etc. And I always pray before we get out of the car.


4) If you’re going somewhere that is crowded, dress your kiddos in the same color- We take our kids to an amusement park every summer, and they all wear the same color and its a bright color.  Tomorrow, we are going on a field trip and they are all wearing red.  This sounds ridiculous but it’s SOOO helpful.  You can quickly spot your kids.



5) Prepare for the worst- I learned this early on, pack a bag that can prepare you for the worst circumstance, peed pants, a wound, etc.  We keep an extra pair of clothes for each child in the back of my car, along with a first aid kit, benedryl, diapers, wipes, Tylenol etc.  I hate being away from home and having an emergency that I am not prepared for. I also keep drinks and snacks in my bag 🙂


bare minumum

6) Take only what you need into the store, park etc.- Keep you emergency gear in our car if it wont be too hard to get to.  I have had times that I’ve carried full diaper bags, purses, strollers and tried running after kids with all this gear, take my advice and only bring what you need in.  Leave the rest in the car.

When I first had my 4th child, I really thought I would never go anywhere again, it was just easier to stay home.  Sometimes it is.  You can still go to events, shopping, and parks with small kids as long as you are prepared.  Sometimes, like me, you’ll learn the hard way.

“Train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it”



Speak Your Mind



  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Marissa! It sure helped me feel not alone is the misbehaving child department! These are great tips. I love the dressing them in the same color idea. I agree that things go much better when they are not tired and when they know what to expect.

    • Marissa says:

      Erin, I am definitely in the misbehaving child department a lot of the time!!! I’m learning that consistency is key. Sometimes it’s easier to let things slide, but my boys are the type that if you give them an inch, they take a mile!! I’m praying for God to teach me DAILY how to train them and discipline them. I’m still learning new things everyday as I stumble though motherhood! How old are your kiddos Erin?

      • Marissa, they are 7 and 2. The 7 year old sounds like he’d fit right in with yours! You’re right about consistency–so important but definitely not easy! Have to really be intentional about it. I remind myself every day that God wouldn’t have given us these children if He wasn’t going to give us the tools to parent them as well. I would be floundering without Him!

        • Marissa says:

          Erin, So VERY true. Not easy, but in His strength we can do it. You are right, He equips us for all that He calls us to. Feel free to share any parenting tips on here anytime 🙂

  2. I love, love, love that you are brave enough to put your worst case scenario out there! I have 4 that are 5 and under and have had similar experiences. I like the bright colors idea! I use to be really good about keeping a bag in the car but I have kinda gotten away from it. I need to go back to it.

    • Marissa says:

      April, 4 under 5 is crazy! Do you feel like its getting easier? My youngest is now 2, and is walking and talking so I feel like life is so much easier. I love every stage of their lives. I love that they are getting older and interested in new things. Its exciting, and frightening at the same time. I’m sure you have some great stories and tips to share. You’re welcome to share them anytime!! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Superwomen! Right here! 4 boys! Wow! Thanks for sharing on Whatever Wednesday!

    • Marissa says:

      Thanks for stopping by sarah! And thank you for hosting whatever Wednesday. Ill be preparing another for you next week 🙂

  4. Oh Marirssa, I can only imagine how I’d feel if I were you during that worst shopping trip! I’m sure you wanted to dump your cart, run to the car and head home!

    These tips are great, and my favorite is setting the ground rules. No matter what our age, we all need to know what to expect.

    Thanks for sharing at Wow Me Wednesday!

    • Marissa says:

      I sure did want to dump my cart, but I’m too stubborn to give in, which makes my life harder than it needs to be 🙂 Thanks for reading and stop back for some more stories and deals! Thanks for thrifty treasures!

  5. All great tips! I have three five and under and when I take them all to Walmart and I need to do some serious grocery shopping, I get that huge semi-like shopping cart. with the two seats with belts in the front and then the regular cart attached. I feel like a truck driver whipping it around the aisles but at least then all the kids are strapped in somewhere, haha. I try not to make eye contact with anyone. If I had another one I would just give up on shopping all together I think.

    • Marissa says:

      I just popped over to your site, I am loving it!! Your stories are exactly my life in a nutshell!! Thanks for stopping by, come back again. I’m going to follow your site, I love it! Thanks 🙂

  6. I only laugh because I have so totally been there!!! Even just last night – I thought I was doing good only bringing 2 of 6 – the 9 year old and the 1 year old. Ugh!! The 1 year old really gave me a run for my money!! Such great tips – thank you so much for sharing your insights. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst I think is definitely one of the best. That, and shopping at 5am Saturday morning while everyone else is sleeping!!! lol!

    • Marissa says:

      Jen, I always do that too! I think to myself that if I bring one older and one younger with me that they wont argue or fight in the store, WRONG! The older one usually teases, and the younger one tries climbing out of the cart the ENTIRE time. I have become a late night and early morning shopper too! You usually have the whole store to yourself. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  7. I truly enjoyed reading this post. I could totally sense the panic in those worst-case moments. I only have one child, but I still found these to be great tips. (I found you on the turn it up Tuesday link up.)

    • Marissa says:

      Thanks Tiffiny. I really enjoyed your site too! Things can be hectic no matter how many children you have. Although, having 4 is inevitably hectic 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Come again!

  8. Tired kids anywhere is a no no!

  9. Great tips you have here! I was like you before, but I had a daughter who was 5 years older than than the next sibling. My two boys are a year and a half apart so it was mayhem when I took them to the department store for Christmas shopping. My solution? I bought a child restraint harness for each of them and hooked them up to the belt loops of my jeans. It worked for a while until they were smart enough to learn how to release the latch on their restraint. And then I was back to mayhem. Haha. I am so glad they are now in their early 20s.

    • Marissa says:

      Eileen, I’ve tried strapping them into a double stroller but those strollers are not easy maneuvering. I keep telling myself that someday it will get easier!

  10. “it’s not your meat cause you didn’t pay for it yet!” bwahahhahahahahahhahahahaha! Love! I had a terrible experience, and only had 2 of the 3 with me. Except firemen were involved and not in the sexy calendar way either! Great post!

    • Marissa says:

      Lol I just read your post. My son did that in the elevator one time, and it automatically calls 911. I wasn’t sure what was happening until I heard, “do you have an emergency?” through the elevator speaker. “who, me?” I answered. “Yes ma’am, do you have an emergency?” she said again. “why would I have an emergency?” then I looked down and the red emergency button was on! My hair is turning gray and I’m only 30!

  11. Very good tips! I only have the one kid but taking him out is always a test to my sanity. When I was growing up I raise about 6 of my little cousins and when ever we took them all out in public we dressed them all in the same color.

    • Marissa says:

      Marielle, There are times that I have driven to the store with my kids and they have been so rowdy in the car that I am afraid to even attempt going in, sometimes I have turned around and gone back home. Someday it will get easier. I love the lime chicken recipe on your site, I may try to make it tonight 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!!


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