Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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Dear Debbie

“Dear Debbie” is a new column dedicated to answering your questions about how to better handle the everyday struggles of life with children. She’ll tackle anything—from tantrums and potty training to dealing with playground politics and post partum depression.

Send your questions to: mag@todaysmama.com

Dear Debbie,

Do you have any ideas to make grocery shopping with children a little easier? I’ve pulled out all my hair and still haven’t made it beyond the produce aisle!

Need grocery-cart entertainment while you shop? Try these tips and get through your list without a meltdown:

• Make it a meal. Shop when your child is hungry. Let him munch his way, ever-so-slowly, through the store. Bring food that takes awhile to eat like apples, raisins, animal crackers, deli meat, string cheese, bagels, and lollipops.

• Bring stickers. Kids love to decorate canned goods, cardboard pasta boxes, milk jugs. And they don’t make a mess.

• Give him a job. He can draw pictures of what you need to buy, cross things off your list, place and sort food in the cart, “calculate” totals on a calculator and match coupons (or magazine pictures) with foods he sees.

• Turn on the tunes. Bring a headset and stories or songs on tape. Let him rock out while you shop.

• Have special toys in your car just for shopping trips. When you’re done, away they go until next time. Electronic toys and MagnaDoodles work well.

• Play thinking games. How many people will we see wearing brown shoes? How many lights are on the ceiling? How many B’s do you see? I spy something green. Can you guess what it is?

• For the tyke who insists on walking, bring a doll stroller with a baby or stuffed animal to push along. Or put him in charge of “driving” the cart and “parking” it next to you when you stop.

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