I take my kids to the grocery store about once a week, and it might be the errand that has been most wildly affected by having children. I dread going to the grocery store; every part of it, from making the list to putting the groceries away. And then there’s the actual shopping. Do you know what Mary Virginia does while I try to shop? Every time I try to look at my list, she grabs it and puts it in her mouth. Every time we go to the store, I always forget things, get more than I need, go over budget, and make horrible judgement calls. Remember when, the day before Mary Virginia was born, I impulse-bought Sour Patch Kids, iced coffee, and a bag of chips? Because the stress of shopping leaves me defenseless against bright shiny packaging. Chocolate covered pretzels? Yeah, I think we’re out of those.
Every week I use a Hot Wheels car as a bribe to get David to sit still and stop stomping on my tomatoes. But, wait a minute, why are there Hot Wheels cars at the grocery store? Because you know who knows best how hard it is to go to the grocery store? THE GROCERY STORE. That’s why it’s FULL of balloons, balls, and Elmo merchandise. If you don’t have kids you might not have noticed the balloons. Trust me, the grocery store has more balloons than chicken.
To be honest, for the wild island savages they are, my kids do pretty well in the grocery store. (I say that because I’ve never had to abandon a full grocery cart.) But in the almost three years I’ve been doing this, I’ve thought of a few things that can make shopping easier. Next time you’re in the grocery store, just cruising the aisles like a normal human being, and you see a mom ready to wave a white flag, here are some ways you can help.
First, a tip. Now Mary Virginia sits in the cart, but for months I wore her in a carrier. A mom saw me struggling to lift David into the cart (while wearing Mary Virginia) and taught me this trick: lift the front of the cart and let your kid to climb in. I took these photos of David climbing into the buggy while holding Mary Virginia, so they’re not great, but hopefully they make sense. Every time I do this someone mentions how genius it is, and I’m so thankful for the woman who let me in on it.
1) Don’t talk to them
Normally I like chatting with people at the grocery store. In fact, I don’t mind shopping on Tuesdays (Senior Citizen Day) because I like chatting. But just say hello and let me go. There are times when David is whining and Mary Virginia is eating my grocery list and someone is telling me about their niece whose third child weighed 9 lbs 2 oz. at birth and all I can think about is how I wish your niece was here to tell you to leave me alone and let me move to aisle 9 where David might stop asking for cheese. Say hello, tell me how cute my kids are and how much I’ll miss these days, and move on.
2) Pick things up, reach for things, you get the idea
This is what we look like when we shop. Kid in the front with a ball, kid in the back with a ball, and who put that bag of cheese balls in the bottom?
Until a few weeks ago, I wore Mary Virginia in a carrier and David rode in the front seat. Now both kids are in the cart, but its hard to navigate either way. I can never abandon my cart, and when I was wearing Mary Virginia it was tough to lean down and pick things up. Now that David is in the big part of the cart, I don’t have a lot of room for groceries so a lot goes in the bottom. And here’s the problem: things roll out of the bottom, it’s hard to reach things, and you’d be surprised how often the box of graham crackers I need is blocked by a tower of cardboard boxes by someone who used to be stocking. The point is, if you see a mom struggling to reach something or a can of tomatoes rolling out of her cart, help her.
3) Let her go in front of you in line
I know, I know, you’re very important and very busy and you can’t spare the five minutes it will add to your day to let someone in front of you. This one doesn’t apply to you. But when I no longer have kids in my buggy, I’m going to spend my days opening doors for people pushing strollers and letting those same people go ahead of me in line.
4) Put things on the conveyer
I only add this because someone actually did this for me, and I was so thankful I teared up. Someone behind me in line started putting the groceries that were under my cart on the conveyer belt. I was wearing Mary Virginia (which, again, makes it hard to bend down) and they just started helping unload my groceries. It was simple, and I won’t forget it.
5) Put the cart away
The juggling act isn’t over once your out of the store. I roll my cart out with the kids, put my bags in the trunk, and then I have a choice. I can put your kids in the car and leave them in there while I take my cart back (with it running if it’s really hot or really cold). Or I can take the cart back and carry my impatient, grocery-weary kids back to the car.
I try to park next to the cart retrieval but those spots aren’t always available and the “Mom with children” spots are NEVER beside the cart retrieval spots. Once I was loading my kids in the car and some guy walked by and asked if they could have my cart. REALLY? You’ll take my cart? Do you know you just eliminated one of the steps of this 1,098-step process? THANK YOU! It was such a help.
Once my groceries are in my car and my cart is put away, I buckle my seat belt, take a deep breath, and prepare for phase two: going home, getting the groceries inside, and putting them away.
I’m still pretty new at this; anyone have any other ideas? Specifically, I want to know what you do when you have more than two. And I’m running out of excuses to keep David away from those carts with the cars on the front, and those ridiculous kid-size grocery carts.
Once when I was shopping, David was fussing and someone said, “I know what this little guy wants,” and lifted him OUT OF MY CART. That would be at the top of my list of “Things not to do unless you want me to call the cops.”