Lately, I have been wondering handing over our grocery money to my sons and letting them make the decisions. I have been experimenting with small portions of the budget and am really pleased how it is changing the experience for all of us.
Normally, they hate grocery shopping, at least when I am dragging them along at my pace. I hate it too, because I have to keep explaining the purchases. However I noticed when they have twenty dollars in their pockets and are in charge of part of the "shop" things go very smoothly.
Relieved at a quick solution I made the decision to mention to friends and acquaintances that my new stress-free approach to groceries was letting the kids shop. I just follow along pushing the cart, or adding reminders, such as the need for milk or eggs.
I had done this before with my firstborn when he was three. I was pregnant and I just wanted to buy food without power struggles. It was an amazing experience. Although, I was disappointed--we didn't buy any ice cream. Red peppers, portobello mushrooms, and artichokes were some of the surprising choices.
Now, my boys are thirteen, nine and six. Many scoff at the idea of handing over cash to a nine year old and six year old and putting them "in charge". I ended up giving them each twenty dollars, and I kept twenty dollars. They each chose some food items and then I paid for items they both choose.
I was expecting mixed reactions from other adults. "Are you going to rescue them when they buy nothing but candy?" was a frequently asked question. Many were confused when I said, no, because I was giving them the "actual money" budgeted for groceries. I will be eating the candy. It is not rat poison I reasoned. We will live if we spend a few days eating nothing "nutritious". Many people insisted that this was bound for failure, having watched my kids ask repeatedly for pop and candy money in Malls or on outings.
The results have been amazing. Cheerios, Pilsbury crescent rolls, strawberries, chicken breast deli slices, real cheese sliced, pita bread pockets. We have had less ice cream than we expected and no candy.
My husbands reaction has been very supportive:
I really love that your doing this with the guys. Its a more interesting variety of foods. Its gratifying knowing they'll eat it because it's what they chose. They understand what is going on and when you trust them, they trust themselves and they think about what everyone needs.
As the practise continues I am thinking of writing more. It has really taken a huge weight off me to know they won't starve and they balance their diet. They also made sure to buy some of my favorites!