If you're a mother of small children like I am, chances are you find it more challenging to coupon—or just to shop, in general—when the kids are with you. But for busy families like ours, there's no way that a couponing mom will be able to shop by herself most of the time. Through trial and error, I've found some strategies that make shopping with kids a whole lot easier!

1. Make your own toy clips and attach them to kids’ clothing or a cart’s seat belt.

The days of having to pick up your child’s fallen toy from the dirty grocery-store floor are over, folks. All you need is some webbing, a suspender clip, a hair band, some velcro, and a needle and thread to make these versatile toy-savers.

Get specific directions here.

2. Organize your shopping list by focusing on must-haves first, and non-essentials second.

 

By doing this, I can purchase milk or diapers and know that if my kids hit meltdown mode I can still abort the rest of the mission. I can always make a late-night run for the rest of my list later.

 

3. Bring snacks to keep them distracted.

Fruit puree pouches like GoGo squeeZ or Mott’s are much cheaper than the pouches you find in the baby food aisle and seem to last longer when we’re out and about. I’ll also bring a small, clear Ziploc bag of Goldfish crackers or Teddy Grahams, which tide my kids over until we get home—and prevents them from reaching for products on the shelf.

4. Use an envelope instead of a bulky binder to hold your coupons.

It doesn't seem like a binder would take much time, but when dealing with toddlers, even seconds can make a difference.

Related: 12 One Pot Recipes You’ll Want to Make Every Night

5. Don’t bring your purse into the store.

Why, you ask? It’s one less thing to juggle. Bring your cell phone and wallet and carry them in your pockets or in the diaper bag. Believe me, having one less thing to keep track of makes a huge difference!

6. Give your kids jobs.

My kids love being responsible for something—especially at the grocery store. Assign your kids tasks like these to keep them busy!

  • Pushing the cart
  • Choosing produce
  • Reading price tags
  • Keeping an eye out for red tags and sales
  • Reading and crossing items off your grocery list
  • Fetching products from shelves

 

7. Print out and laminate a grocery list for kids.

Have your child mark off items as he or she finds them using a crayon or dry erase marker.

Download free grocery lists for child here.

 

8. Use a pool noodle to protect your teething baby from germs.

Stressed that your baby is going to pick up gross cart germs? Try cutting a pool noodle to fit over the metal bar of a standard grocery cart.

Note: The genius mom who invented this tried biting a piece of pool noodle off herself (readers were concerned about this being a choking hazard), and noted that the waterproof material was so tough, her adult teeth couldn’t even bite a piece off. If you’re still concerned about it being a choking hazard, try covering the pool noodle with decorative material.

 Related: 11 Amazing Hacks to Keep Your Car Clean and Organized

8 Genius Ways to Survive Grocery Shopping with Kids