It took me a while to get the courage to go on shopping trip with all three kids BY MYSELF. But sometime within the last month I started doing it. I’m not gonna pretend to tell you it’s a breeze. I definitely have to mentally prepare and give myself a little pep talk before venturing out, but we’re making steps in the right direction. It’s funny; before kids I never thought twice about the moms I’d see shopping with their kids. (Unless their kid was throwing a tantrum in which case I would ingorantly cast judgements on her ability to control her kids. Ha! Like I said, pure ignorance.) But now I find myself feeling forever bonded to the other moms with youngsters I pass in the store, knowing we’re in battle together, running on borrowed time before our kid(s) could explode like ticking timb bombs.
I’m certainly not an expert in shopping with little people yet. Afterall, only one of my children is mobile at this point! But I have learned a few tricks that help my trips to go as best as can be expected.
Phase 1: Preparing for the Trip
1. Before leaving home, make sure everyone is well-rested and has a full tummy. If I can help it, which I usually can, I never even think to journey to the store during naptime. Or when they’re hungry. I believe 85% of meltdowns can be prevented by following this rule.
2. Have a list. Shopping with three kids under two isn’t a practical time to wander aimlessly through the store. Nope. I have my list categorized by the layout of the aisles in the store we’re going to so I can make sure I grab everything we need first go around and don’t need to dilly dally. Efficiency is key, my friends!
3. Shop when it’s not busy. My babies are happy to shop if the cart keeps a movin’. There isn’t time for stop and go traffic. For this reason, I avoid taking my kids to the store on weekends or during the early evening when the majority of the population is off of work.
1. Depending on the store, I decide if I’ll shop with my stroller or use the store’s carts. If I use my stroller I’ll pull a cart behind us or use my Mommy Hook and hook a basket to the handlebar. At Target, they have a fabulous large cart that works great for us so I don’t usually get the stroller out. Upon entering the parking lot, I scout out a cart corral that has one of these carts. I park near that corral, grab the cart, and transfer the kids.
3. I’m not above bribery when it comes to shopping. At Target, the bakery gives out free chocolate chip cookies to kids if you ask for one. Depending on the day and his mood, Baylen either gets one at the beginning of the trip to buy me some time, or he gets one at the end as a reward for good behavior. If we aren’t at Target, he’s to an age where suckers are great. I especially like Ring Pops right now because I don’t have to worry about the stick jamming down his throat.
Phase 3: Shopping
1. Shop quickly, and talk to your kids while you shop. My toddler does so much better when I engage him as we shop. So I’m the crazy mom who’s basically talking to myself the whole time. “What else do we need, Baylen?! Eggs? Okay! Let’s go get eggs! Oh, and some milk too? Okay, how many gallons? Let’s count them. One. Two!” And at some point the grocery cart likely morphs into Lightning McQueen and we race through the last few aisles, vrooming to the finish line.
2. Pick a cashier who looks like he/she might have a clue. Not to overgeneralize, but I’ve made the mistake once or twice of choosing the college-aged kid who has no idea that I need him to scan the items faster than fast, quicker than quick, instead of talking to me about how his day would be so much better if he didn’t still have 7 more hours to work, yada, yada, yada. For this reason, I try to choose the sweet looking mom type who gets it. Because again, we’re stopped at this point, and I don’t have much time to stall before I become that mom (whom I once judged) with the screaming kids.
3. I use my Target Debit Card to save 5% on each transaction. It comes right out of my checking account, and saves me lots of money over the course of a year! At Target, you can swipe your card while they are still scanning your items, and since I always do a mental calculation of how much I’m spending as I shop, I don’t need to wait for the grand total. After they bag the last items, I grab my receipt, which I treat as a certificate of completion, and head out the door! If my kids are still happy, I reward reward myself with a coffee, or soda, something! Last time, my kids were rockstars and I got to enjoy my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year. Woot! Woot!
And that, friends, is how I survive my grocery runs these days. I treat it as a challenge and try to strategically conquer it. There are times when our trips don’t go as smoothly, however. And those are the days we get the basics, call it quits, and mommy gets to go back later ALL BY HERSELF. The solo Target run, another thing that I didn’t appreciate before kids, but now carries equal weight to a winning lottery ticket.
Disclaimer: Target did not compensate me for this post. I just really love that place!
Question: What tips do you have for shopping with babies/toddlers? How about as they get older?
Enjoy your Tuesday afternoon! I’m actually headed to Target BY MYSELF, thanks to Grandma being here!