As promised in yesterday's article here I intentionally strode into the lions den with my two daughters. Grocery shopping, straight after school, no snacks, full of pent up energy and ready to go - how well did it go??  Just read on...

1. Expectation - as advocated by my wife, if children know what is expected of them, there is a chance they will aspire to that, if they do not know, then we are hoping they can read our minds.  We had a pre-shopping briefing, an agreed understanding and off we set...

2. Focus on the people who matter - everyone with children appreciate that it is not all cute freckles, pony tails and toothless smiles.  They understand what it is like to have small people with their own opinion and agenda, and so a key thing is not to have too much attachment as to what others might be thinking.  Simply we do not know, so the art, is to focus on those most important people - our own children - rather than spend time thinking what others may be thinking (that is two sets of thoughts and opinions there, neither of which will probably be true).  So we had rides in the trolley, on the heavy tray holder, and even in the dedicated trolley seat.

3. Allocate responsibility -  great words of advice from my Auntie - distract children from trouble or angst by giving them something to do, a different focus.  So we came home with 3 packages of tomatoes (followed by another 2 when my wife had the same idea on the way home), but it kept them busy and involved.

4. Reward expectations met - Sometimes, a simple 'well done' is easy to throw away, and can feel the same way.  There is a huge difference between bribing and rewarding.  One seems to force a behaviour, the other is recognition of a positive outcome.  One pink doughnut, one chocolate doughnut, placed in the trolley part way through our excursion - both as a reward and a reminder.

5. Have fun - rather than allowing boredom to set in - which leads to self amusement (commonly known as mischief), have some fun, keep it entertaining.  As my Dad once said, if you have children, you have to be prepared to play the fool sometimes.  A joyous trio of 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'  amused some if not all of the shoppers!

So, all in all, how did it go? By focusing on keeping it light hearted, discussing expectations and dedicating focus on fun and enjoyment rather than trudging through a chore with two hangers on, we had a good time.  Plenty of help all round, and the key thing being that everyone grew just a little bit during the shopping trip.

Oh - and yes, before you ask, we did buy a 'build your own gingerbread house' - that is tomorrows task!