Friday, March 27, 2009

Grocery Getter Part Deux

(Not my actual kid in cart)

Yeah...I knew it took a lot to go grocery shopping with my kids (I prefer to think of it as my mini-entourage), but who knew it would take three posts to explain? Here's part 2:

Execution without Execution: You arrive at the store! The nearest parking space is roughly 5 miles (8.05 km) away from the store entrance, but you are still determined to have a successful shopping trip. This is a good time to remind yourself that this can be done without bodily harm to children, self, or store employees. You know how some people pray for traveling mercies? Well, this is the time to pray for shopping mercies.

Decide what shopping cart best fits your needs. This is the biggest roadblock I have. With two children who can walk, you can use the super-duper kid cart with the two little seats attached to the regular cart. You need the strength of Sampson to push it, but no grocery space is taken up and you can keep the kids securely attached to the cart. With one baby, they have carts with infant seats built in. This also has plenty of grocery space and a happy, secure place for a baby. But I have both. There is no cart for that. So currently I use the regular cart and sit the baby in the front part now that he's good at sitting (Hoorah!). Middle child sits in the part intended for groceries. YES, I know there's warning on the cart against that, but it's a lot better than having him run through the store touching everything, including other people in questionable areas. The oldest child walks with me. Now, it's still not a perfect solution. Oldest child tends to wander a little. Middle child gets to share the space with the groceries and usually by the end of the trip, I have to make him walk as well. He will either be buried alive or he will try to open something messy that's in the cart with him. Applesauce, laundry get the idea.

Stick to the plan. Sure, it would be fun to wander through the home decor and look for curtains on sale or see if you can find a pair of shoes for under 5 dollars..but every wasted second increases the likelihood of a problem. And always, ALWAYS skip the toy aisle. Don't even let your children know there's one in the store. See someone you know in the store? Wave and smile, say "Hi!" even, but keep moving. A stopped cart and distracted attention is an open invitation for children to 1) Put as many things in the cart as they can or 2) Wander away, causing a Code Adam.

Don't let the baby chew on the grocery list. Only bad things can come of this.

Give the kids some buy-in. Let them make decisions about which bunch of bananas to buy or whether they want apple juice or orange juice. I give them tasks like picking things off the shelf for me or putting it in the basket. We talk about how much things cost. I give them the real reasons why we can't buy some things (too expensive, not healthy, no one will eat it), and if there's not a good reason to say no, I'll buy some treats that they want, too, especially if it's something new we haven't tried before. Unless it's Go-gurt. I can't bring myself to buy Go-gurt.

Don't panic in a crisis. Despite all the preparation, you will forget something they need or someone will have to use the bathroom when it is at the opposite end of the store. Stay cool. Count to ten, salsa to the store music a la Helen, or make a farting noise when someone walks by. The key is to do something that distracts the kids and removes the Glare of Death off your face. If the crisis escalates, no one will arrest you if you open a package of animal crackers and feed them to your kids before you get to the check out. At least no one has arrested me yet. If that fails, it's time to GET OUT NOW. It's better to have shopped and bought some things on the list than never to have shopped at all.

Check out stinks, and there's no way around it. Everyone is now tired. The line you pick will usually be the slowest or have the checker from Hades. There are glowing, glittery, sugary things that scream for your children's attention. The rotating bagger thingy is irresistible to little hands and has a huge pinching danger. The cart is never unloaded before the checker needs to put the bagged groceries in it. Your child will run five lanes down and proclaim to everyone that they have a snotty nose. The one redeeming thing about checkout time is that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Grocery shopping is almost done!

People are idiots in a parking lot. Act accordingly. Our rule to be safe in the parking lot is that you must hold on to the cart or Mom in some way the moment you leave the store. This is non-negotiable. I must look like I'm about to be taken down by the little people, but it is the only way I've found to keep track of my kids in the parking lot. Once we reach the car, the children are again loaded scientifically followed by the loading of the groceries into a van that's usually filled with music junk. Oops, I mean "equipment."

You've now completed grocery shopping, and only the animal crackers were harmed. But you're not out of the grocery shopping woods yet...stay tuned for the magical ride home...and more! And if you can't get enough grocery shopping (Who can??), be sure and visit my wacky friend Katdish. Who knew naked butlers frequent Kroger?

P.S. You can never get too many blogs about the grocery store. Salsa, anyone?


Helen said...

The parking lot has to be a scary time for you. It is for me, and I don't have children hanging on.
People are idiots in the parking lot. I drive slowly in the parking lot, but that is mainly because I am scouting for someone to stalk to their car....

wv ilect ---the opposite of Calvin's elect. Don't worry about him...he is one of the ilect.

Marni said...

Beth, I am crying I am laughing so hard...especially the part about looking like you're about to be taken down by the little people. That's my favorite line EVER.

Our daughters are 9 years apart. And we never got the third one we wanted. I always wonder why God made us wait so long between babies and only let us have the 2. Now, I think I have my answer. In His infinite wisdom, He knew I'd NEVER be able to navigate the grocery store with 2 or 3 small children.

This weekend I babysat my cousins 5 (age ranging from 3-12) kids and took them to the park. I had to lie down when we got home. And the park is no big deal. You're allowed to run amuk like wild banchees. But the store...not so much. You are my hero.

katdish said...

You know what I hate worse than grocery shopping? Grocery shopping with my children. Past, present and future. You should make Frank do the grocery shopping. But don't tell him I said that...

wv: bendi

"Look mommy! This banana is very bendy! Uh,oh!"

Rob said...

Anne bribes the kids (who ride in the cart with the groceries) with the free cookies from the bakery. Unless the mean baker is there, in which case there are no cookies. Or unless the sneaky retired people steal them all (this is actually a real problem).

Annie K said...

Rob, I hope you don't shop where Katdish does because it's the naked cheese but(t)ler you have to worry about.

Beth, I'm exhausted just reading about it. You are a woman of greatness.

Beth said...

The stealing cookies thing cracks me up, Rob, but I'm sure it's no laughing matter for Anne!

There IS nice lady in the deli who will sometimes give the kids a free slice of ham...mmmm...salty ham fingers all over everything!

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

Love this! And THIS is why for the last two years before all the kids were in school, I went to the grocery store by myself between 9 and 10 pm. (Later if I managed to get to Walmart!)

Now I go shopping ALL ALONE in the MIDDLE of the day. Yes, I do have all the bickering to deal with when not at the store. But we all have our cross to bear. (At first I typed "crass to bear". But then that made me think of Katdish.)

My favorite line?
"It's better to have shopped and bought some things on the list than never to have shopped at all."

Annie! T-shirt!!!

WV: subleape
A leap of faith, but only a teensy one.

Larry Swank said...

This was awesome, Beth ... since we've long since given up on taking the kids shopping (I just stay home with them while Holli does the work there), I feel your pain.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Beth, I'm glad you could sniff out my April Fools joke. You can throw that in Katdish's face. She's so innocent, she takes everyone at their word. It's sweet, and a little bit sad too :)

katdish said...


Just one more thing that makes me so very endearing/annoying!