Cincy Mom Hacks: Tips on Surviving Shopping, Eating, and More with Kids!

We all know about the good old lollipop trick that makes the bank run a little more appealing with small children in tow. Did you know, though, that Cincinnati is FULL of hacks that make those poke-your-eyeballs-out boring errands easier with kids? Here are a few of our favorite mom hacks collected over the years for everything from grocery shopping, to oil changes, and more.

You are welcome.

Cincy Mom Hacks: Tips on Surviving Shopping, Eating, and More with Kids!

Who doesn’t need a few hacks to survive shopping with kids?

Grocery Shopping Hacks

  • Kroger: Kroger is crawling with good hacks. Start with a free piece of fruit at the Kids Fruit Stand in produce, stop by the florist for a free balloon, then the bakery for a free cookie. Don’t forget to ask for some free stickers at checkout, a sucker at the Little Clinic, and of course, enjoy the samples! If we aren’t doing ClickList (which has a SAME DAY option now, if you didn’t hear that), these little tricks make Kroger our go-to for grocery shopping.
  • Trader Joes: Find the hidden stuffed animal, tell the cashier where you saw it, and score a sweet treat!
  • Fresh Thyme: Check out the free piece of fresh fruit at the Fruit Stand.
  • Whole Foods: Kids can grab a sweet treat at Customer Service after checking out!
  • Meijer & Wal-Mart: Snag a free cookie at the bakery.
  • Costco: It’s not exactly a hack, but it’s hard not to mention to incredible samples, good deals, and the $1.50 hot dog plus drink combo. Shopping + lunch in one easy trip is OK with us!

Eating Out with Kids

  • Chick-Fil-A: You can go through the drive-thru to order and request your meal delivered to a table where it will be waiting after you unload everyone. You can also trade in the toy in your kid’s meal for a free kid-size ice cream cone!
  • McDonalds: The same drive-thru hack that Chick-Fil-A has applies here too, which we sure love since the worst part of fast food is standing in line to order it with kids! If you do happen to stand in line to order, though, you can ask them to deliver the food to your table so you don’t have to juggle the baby AND the tray. Use their app to get a free Medium McCafe drink with any purchase (the cookies or apples are just 50 cents and totally count!)
  • Rusty Bucket: This delicious family-friendly restaurant offers a free reading program for kids. Turn your bedtime reading routine into free kids meals!
  • Chuy’s, Brio, & Bravo: Request a free ball of dough and your kids can have fun playing with it while you wait for your meal. 
  • Whit’s Frozen Custard: Their baby cone is always free, which is perfect for littles under two, or those who just want a small bite.
  • Pizza Hut: Pizza Hut also has a reading program, Book-It, as well as offering free pizza for good grades.

Rewards for Good Grades

Speaking of good grades, while it’s not exactly an errand hack, the following restaurants will reward your kids with free food for good grades on their report cards! Check with each one individually to see what the deal is, but many offer an entire meal!

  • Pizza Hut
  • McDonald’s
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Chick-fil-a
  • Wendy’s

Running Errands

  • Oil Express: Your kids get a juice box and fruit snacks. Your car gets its oil change in 12 minutes or less. Win-win.
  • Honda Dealership in Monroe: If you need an oil change or other servicing, this is the place to take kids. Each child gets an activity pack in the waiting area, and they have a toy area and video games available to play.
  • Branch Hill Coffee in Loveland: This awesome coffee shop offers call ahead orders for moms. Perfect.
  • Cincinnati Airport: Waiting for a loved one to arrive? Check out the airport viewing area, a playground with awesome views of the incoming and outgoing jets!
  • Home Depot: Free popcorn keeps kids entertained while you shop paint and fixtures.
  • IKEA: Do your furniture shopping on a Tuesday, and take advantage of their story time plus Kids Eat Free Tuesday! If you become an IKEA Family Member, you also get a free coffee anytime you go, no purchase necessary. They also offer free childcare in a pretty fun kids area for potty trained children over the age of three years every day of the week.
  • Target: Scan the Cartwheel app at the Target Starbucks to earn free coffee.

Fun Around Town

  • Free parking (YES, the parking is FREE!) admission, an extremely well done kids area and programming year-round in the Rosenthal Educational Center (REC) at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
  • Beat the crowds and huge parking fees with FREE parking at Covington Landing. All you have to do is walk across the Roebling Bridge to get to Smale Park and the stadiums downtown! We also love the sights from the Purple People Bridge connecting the Newport Levee to Sawyer Point.
  • Reds Rookies: For $15 your 0-3 year old can join the club, which includes many freebies and TWO tickets to a Sunday game! Even if you don’t join the club, babies can get a free personalized and signed certificate at their first game.
  • Speaking of the Reds, children who complete the Hamilton County Library Summer Reading Program get free tickets, too!
  • If you have been afraid to take the littles to Kings Island, you should know about the Parent Swap Program. One adult can ride while the other waits with your child, and then you swap out without having to wait in line all over again!
  • Chuck E Cheese: There are many ways to earn some free tokens, from being a good student, to achieving personal goals, and tons more!

Do you have some secret mom hacks that makes errands and more with kids a bit easier? Share your tips in the comments below!

Cincy Mom Hacks: Tips on Surviving Shopping, Eating, and More with Kids!

Enjoying the free fruit and cookie at Kroger before getting the free balloon.

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