Couponing with small children can be challenging. Heck, even just regular shopping is difficult with kids! I have two young daughters, and I’ve definitely been “that customer” in the store on numerous occasions. You know, the haggard mom with the screaming kids, carrying the toddler under her arm like a football while dragging the tearful preschooler along reluctantly by the hand?
Yup, been there, done that.
However, through some trial and error, I learned that my kids don’t have to be dragged unwillingly along on shopping trips, crying and whining the whole time. They can actually become part of the whole experience. Sometimes, they even make life easier (yes, seriously)!
- Explain what you’re doing. Couponing is not rocket science. My 5-year-old and 3-year-old quickly grasped the concept of what I was trying to do, once I took the time to explain it to them. “These are coupons. Coupons help Mommy and Daddy pay for things so that they don’t cost as much money. When we use coupons, we can afford more of the things we like.” Kids tend to be more cooperative when they have some clue what’s going on.
- Send them on a mission. Once they understood that coupons helped us buy the things we needed, they made it their goal in life to track down more coupons, especially for products they liked. (“Look, Mom! I found a coupon for kid yogurt! Now can we buy some?”) My kids are now expert coupon-spotters. They draw my attention to circulars in stores, peelies on products, and tearpads on shelves. They have even been known to pull Catalinas out of the trash while I’m checking out (which I didn’t ask them to do, but since they already had them…)
- Let them help clip coupons. Obviously, this doesn’t work for 2-year-olds, but my 5-year-old has enough control to clip coupons with her safety scissors. Sure, by the time she has gone through half an insert, I’ve finished 5 complete ones, but that’s half an insert I didn’t have to do, right? Plus, it helps her develop her motor skills, and at that age, kids still think cutting paper with scissors is a grand old time.
- Give them the shopping list. My kids can’t read “Oral-B CrossAction Battery Powered Toothbrush,” but they can look at the picture on the coupon, look at the shelf in front of them, and point out what we’re trying to find. It helps that most times the product we are seeking is specially marked on the shelf anyway, so it’s not hard for them to find. Once they have found it, they love putting it in the cart and on the checkout counter (don’t ask me why).
- Develop those math skills. Couponing lets kids use math in a practical setting. For my 3-year-old, I give her basic counting tasks: “I need to buy three boxes of tissues. Can you count three boxes for me?” My 5-year-old gets slightly more complex problems: “This jar of pickles is $1.35. This one is $1.50. Which one is cheaper?” Older children can figure out the price after coupon, price after rewards, or how much a doubled coupon will be worth.
- Teach them to use coupons for their own purchases. When my hopeful daughter came up to me with $0.50 out of her piggy bank and asked me what she could buy with it, my pre-couponing self would have told her “not much.” But instead, we were able to look at the weekly circular and browse through my coupon binder, and we came up with several options for her. She was so proud of herself when she handed the cashier her quarters and her coupon, and not to mention, a very satisfied little girl when she walked out of the store with her big bag of chips!
- Cute kids can soften up the cashier. My kids have charmed many a semi-reluctant cashier who probably would have been a fair bit pricklier had I come alone. This, of course, only works if the kids are behaving, but after getting them involved in the shopping trip, they most often make it to the checkout line still in good spirits. Bonus points if one of your children can explain to the cashier why using coupons is great! We ended a recent trip to the grocery store with the following monologue from my 5-year-old: “My mommy has to use coupons because we don’t have a lot of money, and coupons help her afford more things for our family, like food and toothpaste, and also fun treats for little girls like me! Isn’t that great? Aren’t coupons awesome?” And of course, after hearing her enthusiastic explanation in her tiny little voice, the cashier had to agree.
So if you have small children, don’t be afraid! Get them involved, bring them along, and before you know it, you’ll have some Krazy Kids!
This has been a guest post by Lauren from Brentwood, TN
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