Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to go shopping with seven children

Every so often when I mention I go shopping with seven children - people freak out! 
How is it possible? What do you do? Why would you want to do that?
Are the most common questions I get asked.

So I thought I would share with you how I make it work.

1. The invite.
It is not often that I go shopping with all seven of my children. Mostly, I take 2 or 3 with me or even just 1 to the shops. Always before I go shopping with all of my children I ask them this question:

"I need to go to the shops. I want to take all of you with me. 
Do you want to come to the shops with me and can you stay with me the whole time?"

The older kids know what I mean when I ask that question and for the younger kids I expand on it. I get down on their level and explain that if they want to come to the shops with me it means they need to listen to what I say, they need to stay with me at all times and I need to be able to see them at all times. If they are not able to do that, we will not go and we will stay home. I wait for another time to purchase what I need. Most things are not an emergency.

Lucky for me, my kids love going to the shops and it is rare that anyone will say No. If someone does say No then I see how many other kids have said Yes and have a talk to that one child. I explain that they are the only one who desire to stay home and 6 against 1 normally wins out on a change of mind.

2. The Preparation
Taking seven kids to the shops is an expedition. Rarely do we all just jump in the car and rush out to the shops to grab something. Before we go, I check that everyone has shoes on, is dressed properly, has been to the toilet and has had something to eat and drink. I so dislike getting hassled for food and drink when we are out. My rule is if you cry and whinge for food and drink - you get none. It is a hard lesson to learn. Let me just say that if you watch six other kids eating food and you are the only one not eating food because you hassled mum - you learn your lesson pretty darn fast!

I rarely take any supplies with me. I normally just grab my purse and go. We are past the nappy bag stage and every so often I might take some snacks from home. Normally we just go to to the shops get what we need, have a quick look around and come home.

3. The Reminder
Once I have all seven kids sitting in the car with seat belts on, I know they are trapped and have my attention so I give them the reminder talk. It kind of goes like this:

"Just wanted to remind you that we are going out to the shops to get ... and ... please do not hassle me about toys, and food and drink. If you like something you can show me, I like seeing what you are interested in and I will check the price and think about it. That does not mean we are going to buy it. Please remember you need to stay with me at all times, I need to see where you are and if you do need to go to the toilet - tell me right away! Does everyone understand what I am saying??"

Then when all the kids have said yes, I start the car and off we go!

4. The Shopping Expedition
The first thing I always do is head straight for what we need to get. I do not allow myself to get distracted incase something goes wrong. With seven kids...all sorts of things can go wrong! Haha!

Then when we have what we need we can have a look around and enjoy ourselves. We always go looking in the toy section...with looking being the key word here. It normally involves my children testing out as many products as they can...they are a little hands on...so it means supervising that.


Can you see Chelsea is holding a Diva bag? Yes I took all seven of my children into a jewellery store. They are very well behaved generally and I am that crazy!!!

Sometimes I let my children run a little way ahead of me to kind of give them the feeling that they are exploring the shops as well and to have a little fun. I do not mind as long as I can see them and it often means they are trying to do something funny, like the time we found Harmony standing like this:


If my children are really well behaved we often look in more shops and stay a little longer. Sometimes I like to reward them with a treat and one of the best places I like to stop at to do so is a Bakers Delight where I pick up a finger bun for everyone. They are often not too expensive and I find it fills them up. Of course after our family has stopped by they are normally cleaned out of finger buns for a while!


For me shopping with seven children is not a relaxing event. It involves constantly counting heads, being aware of where each child is and of staying focused on what needs to be accomplished. We do love to go out together though and often have a great time chatting about things that we see, wants and needs that we have for our family and it gives the children things to look forward to for birthdays and Christmas that they see in the stores.

5. Praise
Always, always on the way home in the car I praise my children for how well they have behaved. I try to pick out small experiences that I saw to highlight. I might say, 'Nathan thank you so much for keeping Sam and Eli close by me' or 'Liberty thank you for holding Chelsea's hand'. I find it sends us all home with a good feeling and helps my children know that they can be good so that we can go out again.

On this such expedition as we were all seated having our finger buns a lady came up and asked me if all of those children were mine. I of course replied, yes they are, to which she stated that she was so impressed that I had them so well dressed and so clean.

It constantly amazes me what others think a family with seven children should be like. I think they assume that we are scruffy and messy and that there is constant bad behaviour. We do have days like that in our home and even out at the shops...but most days we are just a normal family doing normal family things...we just do it with bigger numbers.

41 comments:

  1. Regardless of whether you have one or 10 children, by example, you've given some wonderful advice. If only I could remain half has calm and composed as you!

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  2. I handle my shops in the same manner, but I've only got 2. But I can see how it would work with 7, though it seems you do have a lovely 7 to work with. :) <3 (Big families make me all gushy, sorry. I always wanted a BIG family, but my body wouldn't play ball).

    I would be one of those people complimenting you though. I hope it wouldn't be offensive. I just like complimenting mothers with polite, well put together children. Because I see so many that aren't, and I do believe that Mums need to hear the good far more than they need to hear the bad.

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  3. What I get here too Leonie, is that a parent must be resolved to follow through - i.e. the hassler does not get a finger bun! I think sometimes think that it is more important for bigger families (you know to keep law and order LOL - but it is vital for all size families. A knowledge of consequences is a must for making good choices for the future - it starts with being good shopping with mum!

    Valuable sharing, thanks!

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  4. Thanks so much for your comments ladies. I so love it when someone comes up to me at the shops and gives me a compliment. So much nicer than the stares we always get. I agree it is so important to follow through on what you say, Being consistent is important to me with a large family. Hard...but important! N x

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  5. I have 5 young kids (9 to almost 2) and when we go shopping altogether, I do the same sort of thing...especially the reminder in the car! I also have people come up to me and ask are these all yours (no I pick up random other people's kids to make shopping more of a challenge! lol) , loved your post!!

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  6. I seriously struggle shopping with two children, let alone seven! I'm going to have to put your tips into practise and whip my kids into shape!

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  7. I struggle with one kid (who happens to be at the meltdown stage) while shopping!

    You continue to amaze me. You are brilliant.
    xxx

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  8. I think that is great advice, for a mum of 2 or 7! I especially like the no taking of snacks, it drives me crazy how mine expect snacks before we have even left the driveway....all my own doing of course!

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  9. Great tips Naomi! I have a similar system when taking mine out. I must admit that while I will happily take my five kids out by myself to the park, library or visiting I am not at the stage of taking all of them with me to the shops. My husband needs to be with us if all the kids are coming to the shops. Simply because with the twins still in the pram, I am not able to hold the hands of my four and five year old and I don't trust them yet not to wander off as they are easily distractable :-D

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  10. I take my five out with me to the shops all the time! I don't think I'm as scared about it, as others are when they hear I'm going out with all five!!
    We also get the stares, and some people dont believe that all five are mine, as they are all so young and they dont think I'm old enough for so many kids, either that or they think I started really early (if 22 is early!!)

    We do get a lot of complements though, my children are 90% well behaved when we go out to the shops though, however do have the days there they have little meltdowns in the aisles cause I refuse to buy them something, in which I get the "shes such a mean mum" stare from my child and also people around me! Ooh well, you take the good with the bad!!

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  11. I absolutely love the idea of the "invite"... it's what we in marketing call "getting buy-in". If the kids have buy-in, and have given agreement of good behaviour of their own free will, they're more inclined to follow through than if that same idea were abitarily imposed. Brilliant!

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  12. Naomi your lovely children are a credit to you! I am very impressed, & also inspired - maybe I will reconsider taking my monkeys to the shops.
    x

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  13. Great tips, Naomi. It's always a nice feeling when someone compliments you on your children. :)

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  14. Hi Naomi. I love this post! We have struggled lately with our family shopping trips, they do my hubby's head in completely. I am going to ask him to read this post and give your way a try. It might just shock our little monsters into good behaviour!!! There's shopping hope yet! Thanks again, Luv Jac xo

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  15. I am very impressed - I can hardly manage two. They are just loud and play or fight.
    I think I am going to try the TALK & bribe with Baker's delight.

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  16. It is so nice you get complimented too, you are most certainly doing a great job at parenting :).

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  17. I get the same and I only have 4.

    For some reason people have the misconception that big broods mean that they have to be loud and unruly.
    I'm lucky that I have two older ones (12 and 10) who look out for the little ones (4 & 2) and they're generally well behaved.

    They LOVE going shopping but I tend to send Dad with them instead so I can have a break LOL.

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  18. I had to laugh... I was the same with mine and still are with the don't harrass me or you don't get anything. When they boys were little I had a couple of embarrassing moments, like the time a son needed to go to the toilet so did so in the display toilet (thankfully it was a wee!)
    My boys like coming to Ikea coz they get the hot dogs and ice creams. Although recently I had to go to Freedom(yep HAD too ;)) and found my 14 year old sitting at the diningroom table in the display window. Arghhhh!
    Good luck and keep it up. jojo :)

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  19. Great tips Naomi! During the school holiday's if I have to go grocery shopping I give my kids (I have 3) a list each and they have to look out for certain items, makes shopping adventerous.

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  20. Haha, reading thru the comments, it's funny how many people also get comments. I only have TWO and have gotten "you must be busy" comments before! Usually lovely old men, lol.

    Oh, and I started "early" too Kirsty - 21!

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  21. I could have written this myself Naomi. Almost EXACTLY what I do with my kids. I often have to take all my 4 to the shops with me as my husband isn't around very often.

    Before our road trip, I had to take all of them to all different shops for 6 hours. It was exhuasting but the children did really well. I get the "are they all yours?" often too (with only four so I can imagine how much more you would get that question). Had to laugh the other day I was helping my sister at the shops. While she had an appointment, I looked after all the 7 kids (under 10) and I got SOOOOO many wierd looks! HA!

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  22. Wow you are organised! If more parents were like you shopping centres would be far more pleasant! Some great advice here.

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  23. That's a feat taking seven kids shopping.

    Stopping by from MBC.

    Julie from Just Jules
    www.julesmpg.blogspot.com

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  24. Wow Naomi, I'm impressed. I'm rarely so organized and I just have two. I really like the talk you give them before you go out. I'll have to try that.

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  25. You are so organised - and brave! When I had just one child I managed to lose her in a department store (momentarily). Have you ever lost one of your seven? You'd need eyes in the back of your head ;)

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  26. I think it's absolutely wonderful! I did a post about a similar thing with my 4 just last week and it's so nice to receive a compliment as you said instead of the stares & strange comments as usual.

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  27. Wow - your post is truly inspirational! I just have one child (2 y.o.) and some days I struggle with just taking him to the shops! I love how you talk to you kids on the way to the shops and back, reminding them to behave, and then praising their behaviour - will definitely be trying that with my son :)

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  28. Perhaps I could borrow you to take my boys shopping?! lol - they are generally really good but for some reason as soon as they enter a supermarket and see shopping trolleys they either go hypo or loose the plot altogether!!

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  29. I just read this to my hubby we have one very well behaved little boy and another on the way and he is worried about how we will manage. Your and inspiration

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  30. There was something here that said... "They like going to the shops". It's where I fall down with just one. He hates going to the shops, unless... we can stop at every ride (no money, just for a climb), walk on only the white, black, or red tiles, go to only one end of the mall, and then only for about 1/2 hour, go to the library and read at least 10 books, and then have donuts. Needless to say, I don't take him very often! And NEVER for anything I want to buy, such as clothes, stationery etc. I much prefer to shop locally rather than in a big mall. Or better still, not shop at all!

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  31. Thankyou so much for reposting this one Naomi. Your grounded view if the world is so refreshing to read! I have 3 (very active) boys aged 11, 10 and 10 as well as a beautiful 7 month old daughter. Going to the shops is certainly an effort some days but something that I am determined to persevere with! I too have learnt the lesson of being well prepared beforehand and am finding that the requests for food, drink, toys, whatever are becoming less frequent. This not only saves my purse a little but also allows me the opportunity to spoil my babies once in a while as a surprise. Thankyou for sharing your beautiful life with us and making larger families feel a little more normal!

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  32. Thankyou for this lovely post, I frequently take my six children shopping, aged 6 months to 13 years and like you I get compliments on their behaviour, which makes me feel very proud of them all, and they know if they behave, they will get rewarded, I just wish they would behave as well for their dad when he takes them!!!

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  33. Tracey HutchingsDecember 15, 2011

    Naomi, you really are an incredible mother! I love reading things like this, it helps me to know how I can handle things like shopping trips as my family grows. I suppose that, like anyone else you have moments where you feel out of your depth but you have it together so well I think!!!!! Thanks for inspiring me.

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  34. My partner and I have 6 kids between us (the eldest is 11 then they are 7,6,5,3 and 3) and I find myself often overwhelmed- especially when shopping. Thank you for writing how you manage your tribe as it has given me ideas on how to manage ours.

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  35. Hi from your newest liker..from Retro Mummy's FB page...I take my hat off to you I struggle with four kids (10,8,3,4months) will be reading a few more of your posts :)

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  36. When my 5 were little we had the hold your hands behind your back rule when going into tricky shops! I too had many compliments about how well behaved my children were. There is no need for children to be unruly no matter how many you have. But you do need to be watchful.

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  37. Our eldest 2 kids (18 and 14) are too cool to be seen with mum & dad it seems, however our younger kidlets (8, 6, 6, 4, 2) love shopping with us. They're always very well behaved and I have never, yes never ever, had to deal with a tantrum over wanting toys, etc, they accept 'no' and always stay with me, by my side holding onto the pram or trolley or their siblings hand. Reinforcing the rules (stay with me, hold onto the trolley, etc) along the way helps, especially since 'losing' my eldest boy, then 4 years old, in David Jones in Sydney! He wandered off from me and had me frantic for what was about 4-5 minutes but felt like 20.

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  38. went to a local show today and as we were leaving a Mum with 6 kids and 1 in a pram arrived at the gate, she said to her kids, OK we all stay together, OK they yelled, if you lose me you come straight to the gate and stand next to the man in blue (ticket keeper) OK they yelled, so stay together OK they yelled, Be nice to each other OK they yelled, i could tell this was a common speech she gave , made me smile and she didn't look the least bit frazzled either, wtg Mum

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  39. Loved reading this, you do the job very well. You put me to shame when I think of how my shopping went with my three little ones tagging along all those years ago......!! I never managed and they would drive me crazy! I tended to give in to their whining.....:(

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  40. That was awesome! I have the same rules but I also have the rule that if we are shopping in a store with a lot of breakables then hands have to stay in pockets at all times or if they don't have pockets then folded together in front of them until we leave the store lol

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  41. It is very interesting content to every parent to go for shopping. In the shop the children are trying to play in shops. So the online shopping is very important to the parents. Here social commerce place sold the goods and products. So we get our needs.

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