Shopping With Kids

Does anyone else get physically ill when they read this title? Shopping with kids has to be one of the most stressful tasks as a parent, in my opinion. But we have no option but to do it. There are ways around “pleasure shopping”. You know, shopping for clothes, toys, or anything else that is not a necessity of life. Just don’t do it. Shop online. But grocery shopping has to be done, sooner or later. “Old Mother Hubbards Cupboard” comes to mind. When you have completely depleted your fridge and cannot possibly come up with any unique dinner recipes with your remaining ingredients , it is time to hit up the store.

Thinking back to before I had my little ones, I actually really enjoyed grocery shopping. Mainly because I am in LOVE with food. I would leisurely cruise each aisle, checking out the sales and strategically picking each item that I required for upcoming meals. Grocery shopping was also very social. I have always lived in small towns. Therefore, I was bound to bump into someone I knew while grocery shopping. It was nice to have small talk with friends and acquaintances while in the produce aisle. Running to the store for that one missing ingredient was a simple task and never caused me any anxiety. Oh, how this experience has changed.

This is what grocery shopping looks like after having little ones….

Shopping With An Infant

It I had to rate these categories, this one would be the easiest. Although, at the time of having an infant, I most likely felt this was a terrifying experience. Which it was, but now it seems like a walk in the park compared to my current situation.

Infants are very portable. Especially when they are only a few weeks old. They typically sleep for the majority of the day, so you can pack them around without much fuss. Some people choose to wear their babies in an Ergo or Snuggly carrier, while others, like myself resorted mainly to the car seat. I have an Ergo, which is great for places where it is difficult to use a stroller,  but when babe was super little I found the car seat to be easier for outings when it entailed getting in and out of a vehicle. Having said that, car seats are HEAVY. Packing the seat, a diaper bag, shopping bags, and whatever else you have to carry across the parking lot is exhausting. Pile a load of groceries on and you end up looking like a bellboy.

A big decision here, where exactly do you put the car seat? If I have only a few items to buy, I will use my BOB Stroller (which I LOVE) with the car seat attachment.  This is the easiest mode of transportation as I can easily maneuver throughout the store without disturbing babe with a noisy shopping cart. The downside, where the heck do you put the groceries? I would pile them on top of the hood. Problem here though, I can NEVER only pick up a few items. Eventually, I run out of room on the hood and have to resort to piling items in and around the baby. I mean, this is fine, until the baby is completely hidden. If it begins to look as though you are using the stroller for the sole purpose of packing groceries and people look twice to find the baby, then you should probably choose a different method, like an actual grocery cart.

The “Fun” Cart

You know the one I am talking about. That awful shopping cart “designed” for kids enjoyment. The cart with a built on vehicle including steering wheel (great, something else to host germs).  Who designed this horrible piece of plastic and metal?! Someone that has never shopped with kids, obviously! The thing is huge! The more groceries you pile in there, the harder it is to steer. It feels more like pushing a huge full cardboard box than a shopping cart. I am guaranteed to bump into at least three people and almost every display. I am completely exhausted and sweaty after that workout.

Basket space is compromised because of the life sized vehicle. I avoid putting food in arms reach of the kids, especially anything not in a sealed package as they will most definitely try to eat it. Therefore, I pile everything towards the back of the cart. It doesn’t take long to run out of room for the groceries. So, basically, this huge cart can only hold the amount of a small carry basket.

Kids Are Embarrassing

Leave it to your little ones to find a way to embarrass you.  Here’s an example. We do not typically have cans of soda in our home. The one thing that does come in a can however, is beer. We are not heavy drinkers, by no means, but Dad does enjoy a beer from time to time. So my boy, Ryder, assumes that all cans are filled with beer. No joke.

One day, while grocery shopping, Ryder was running up in front of me, browsing the shelves. He comes running back holding a six pack of orange soda. He has a hard time with his “inside voice”, so he proceeds to yell, “Mom, can we buy this beer?” I reply, “Ryder, hunny, that’s orange soda, and no, we are not getting it”. He wasn’t too happy with that response and goes on to plea, even louder this time, “please, Mom, can we buy this beer?”. I had mixed reactions from the other shoppers as I laughed it off with my blushed red face. Some were laughing along with me, while one other lady pretended she didn’t hear the conversation and avoided eye contact with me. So, who knows what was going through her mind!  Ah, Kids! 🙂

Busy Little Hands

I swear my kids arms grow a foot longer while grocery shopping. No matter how far I parked the cart from the shelves, they can still reach and pull food into the cart. I need to be on constant alert and survey the cart before going through the checkout. I most always find a few items that I didn’t choose.

Open packages are not safe in the cart. The one pound of grapes, weighs less than a half pound when we reach the checkout. This is a hard one to say no to, as it really does keep them occupied for a few minutes.

The “Free” Produce

Our grocery store has a selection of free produce available for the kids while you shop. Such a great idea. More stores should adopt this concept. However, my kid will usually only take two bites of the apple or banana before abandoning it. To avoid wasting a perfectly good piece of fruit, I end up eating the damn thing. Others are probably assuming that I am “stealing” and chowing down on free food. Most parents know that I am eating my kids leftovers, like we do, even at home!

Avoiding People

As I mentioned earlier in this post, prior to shopping with kids, I used to enjoy socializing at the store. Now, I avoid it! Not that I dislike people or catching up with friends, it’s just not the ideal location for such things to happen. If I stop the grocery cart to chat for one minute, I can guarantee that my kids will use that opportunity to either attempt to escape the cart, or feel they have something really important to tell me while I try to have an adult conversation. So, I have one kid crying because she’s trapped in the seatbelt and the other kid trying to get my attention with his “important” story about how he is so hungry and would like that apple that I had already eaten. Really?!

Oh No, I forgot….

Yay! I made it around the entire store! My cart is full. I have everything on my list and then some! Right? Nope! How did I manage to forgot the one essential item that I needed? Maybe that’s the only reason I came here in the first place. I have 100 other items in my cart!! I cannot believe this. It happens more times than I would like to admit. But here we are. My groceries are half bagged and there is a line up behind me. The kids are DONE! I have $150 worth of groceries, but I will need to come up with an alternate dinner idea…because there is NO way I am going back in there to grab that item. NO.WAY!

Shop at night!

Night shopping, like after 8:30 pm, has become my favorite time to shop. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s magic. This would mean, hubby is home from work. The kids, well at least my little one is sleeping, as she is still nursing to sleep and requires me, and I manage to sneak out on my own.

If you have ever experienced the grocery store at night, you know how lovely it is. It’s virtually empty. Barely any kids, as they all are home snug in their beds. No lineups.  It’s glorious! I love cruising up each aisle and crossing off items on my list as I go, purposely taking my time, enjoying a moment to myself. The simple joys in life. How times have changed 😉

I salute all the parents out there, braving the grocery store with kids. I will smile and nod as you attempt to wrangle your little ones into the cart. I will laugh with you as your kids embarrass the hell out of you, as I have been there and will be there again!

What are your tips for a successful shopping trip with your kids? I would love some suggestions!

xo

Mountain Mama

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