How to Go Grocery Shopping

>> Monday, June 7, 2010

Confession: Until today, I had never been on a "weekly" grocery shopping trip with all three children by myself. Quick trips to grab eggs, yes, but actual, cart-full of food trips, no. What can I say? Derek has a flexible schedule.

We're heading out of town on Thursday, so Derek is swamped with work. This means that he had no time to come with me for the shopping. Normally, we use two carts, one full of boys, and the other full of groceries. Not today! It was just me, three children and one cart.

We get inside, and it occurs to my big boys (ages 4 and 2, remember), that they will be required to WALK during our excursion.

Oh, the horror. Spencer, in his special 2-year-old way, thrust himself upon the floor in front of all the carts and cried, "I CAN'T WALK! IT'S TOO HARD!" And Henry began wailing about how his feet hurt. Oliver was happy because as the 14 month old, he earned the right to a ride.

I started walking, determined not to give up before we'd even started. Each side of the cart was flocked by a small boy, hanging on for dear life and dragging his feet, literally being pulled along, begrudgingly.

I did my best to include them in the fascination that is getting food. They got excited about the yogurt and the string cheese. But then they decided it was more fun to RUN as far ahead as they could without actually leaving my line of sight.

This lasted for five minutes. Then they decided to cry and hang on the cart some more. All that running wore them clean out.

I was now in the cereal aisle trying to balance MY overwhelming desire for sugary cereal and my duty as a mother to feed the small people asking for cartoon-character cereal, healthy, whole grain options.

It is SO hard being me.

We moved on to bread.

And suddenly I had three loaves of varying types thrown into my cart by Spencer. In order to more effectively carry them, he'd crushed them pretty good. Now I was faced with an impossible quandry. Buy the bread I do NOT want simply because it is squished. Or, stick it back on the shelf and pretend like it never happened.

I am pleading the 5th on this one.

Then the deli. I have this NEED for deli meats these days (let's blame the fetus, shall we?). So, we're waiting for our meats when Henry and Spencer decide to RUN up and down the length of the counter. Over and over.

And it is situations like these that leave me confused. Do I, as their mother, chase them? Do I yell? Do I ignore it? Or do I do what I did which is to say, "HENRY! SPENCER! Please come stand by the cart! PLEASE! NO DONUTS! NO NO NO!"

See? I am at a loss.

The deli is also where Oliver decided he was tired of shopping. He started to cry, and yank things out of the cart and throw them on the floor. Then he tried to eat my sandwich rolls through the plastic.

Check out was okay, except that the boys caught sight of Subway. And heck, remember I have that deli meat need?

So, we trucked it over there, and Spencer took it upon himself to climb the chip self.


We survived, but barely.

So, here is where I am at... I can't avoid taking them shopping, obviously. I can't leave them in the car, so how do I get them to WALK WITH THE FREAKING CART? I am new at this. Or was today simply a fluke because of their new-found freedom/torture? My boys are children, and boys at that, but they are not usually naughty. At least not as a practice. They have had their moments, like today...



Oh, and I do know that SOME stores in town have these, but not all, so that's always an option, but thenthey drag their hands on the ground,, climb out (the seat belts are ALWAYS broken!) etc. I can't win.

Maybe I should buy one of these. Might be worth it.


Tennille June 9, 2010 at 1:55 PM  

Adam always wants to do grocery shopping as a family. Um, I can't think of many worse forms of torture than that. But, I have been forced to go by myself with all of the kids on occasion. It sucks.

Angie June 9, 2010 at 1:58 PM  

Oh, do I have stories for you! For some reason, the only thing worse than shopping with 5 crazy kids (or pregnant with however many you have), is the person that either complains or says "wow you have your hands full, don't you!" I always want to kill that person.

I always had a deli meat thing when pregnant too, and then I'd read something about listeria and pregnant women and try to give it up temporarily, until the jonesing would get too bad and I'd be back at the deli counter again. Does listeria lead to insanity in children? If so, then it's all my own fault!

Hopefully with perseverance and training, your children will be able to handle grocery shopping better at least some of the time. The truth of the matter is that the minute you have this next one, any shopping you can do with *only* three kids will begin to feel like a luxury. And my husband wonders why sometimes I would rather practice my food storage meals (complete with powdered milk and ground flaxseed instead of eggs and oil) instead of venturing forth with children. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart!

McEuens June 9, 2010 at 8:01 PM  

Yeah, I've done the weekly shopping trip with all three kids before, and it is no fun. I have no advice really, other than to go shopping at night after the kids are in bed. That's almost always what we do, but that solution has its own disadvantages. (Who wants to go shopping at 9pm?!)

My Magic Mom June 20, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

I just stumbled on your blog and saw this. I actually wrote something today about our last shopping trip and some tips! Hope it helps!

Ashley and Brian June 23, 2010 at 10:34 AM  

I've done this with 5 ducklings in tow and the other in my belly. The first thing I do is pick up each duckling a box of Barnum and Bailey animal cookies. They are never allowed to have them any other time. Then, I play games or sing with the little ones and make scavenger hunts for the bigger ones. Example: Coupon says so much off 2 Keebler cookies. Send two big kids to pick one out each. Then when they get back, give them a boring one for paper towels. Let them snack on deli and bakery samples too. And threaten them that if they do not behave in the store their butts will be blistered when they get home. Make them believe you mean it and you'll never have to actually do it.

TwinMint June 23, 2010 at 11:10 AM  

My two 3 year olds, the 16 mo old, and I almost always have to go to the grocery store together when daddy's travelling for weeks. The only explanation I have for why it usually works (trust me, I've had weeks like the one you describe here) well is... practice. When I have no choice but to tow them along week after week, they figure out the process and how to best minimize the mama-drama. Just keep trying and praying!

Joyful June 23, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

You are hilarious! Just found your blog today and subscribed immediately after reading this post. Then after seeing the vinegar post further up I knew I had made a wise decision (I'm a vinegar fan too!)

Amy June 23, 2010 at 11:44 AM  

You must shop at my favorite store - they have those carts too. They are great for hulling two kids around but a nightmare to manuver. Anyway, I believe it just gets easier with practice. My girls used to throw big fits but I just kept walking and they had to follow. I can still shop while they cry. :) Also our bakery gives out free cookies to kids so I also start on the opposite end of the store and if they don't behave they don't get a cookie. Usually works pretty well. Good luck!

Melissa H June 23, 2010 at 11:48 AM  

Hm, maybe it's different for me because I have 3 girls. I have to take them all shopping all the time (I didn't do it when my baby was very little, then I would shop in the evening or on Saturdays). Only one has to walk the whole time, 1 year old gets the seat, 3 year old sits in the basket until it's too full. They have to stay right by the cart and are not allowed to get things off the shelf unless I tell them. But again, we've been doing this for a while. And they are girls.

Randall and Rachel Beita June 23, 2010 at 12:26 PM  

I have just one little 2 year old but I know what you mean. I dread shopping. The only time I can have some sanity is if the cart has a seat belt that works because then he can be strapped and and cry but I know that he is there and is not going to fall or run away or break something. I too need advice. I shopped the other day with my sister and her 2 year old girl and 1 year old son was worse than all of them together. Like you seems like anything I do does not help in the long run.

P.S. Just saw your blog today. Needed the vinegar idea. Husbands clothes never smell clean.

Crystal June 23, 2010 at 1:43 PM  

I've got 5 kids ranging from 2 months to 7 years. Before this last was born, taking the 4 felt like a breeze. Tried going with new baby in tow, and I feel like I'm back to square one! It wasn't easy. For my older 4, I lay down all the ground rules before we even enter. They know the drill. And any consequences I threaten with MUST be enforced when we leave. That's never easy, either. I try not to give bribes because then it always backfires and they expect them. But I will randomly reward great shopping behavior with a small treat. It'll get easier the more you do it. June 23, 2010 at 1:45 PM  

need coupons?

Mine are now 16 and 18 but took them shopping everytime when they were little.

Put the little one in the "seat". Put the 2 year old standing in the basket. Have the 4 year old "push" the cart from the handle. You hold the front of the cart to control speed, steer, etc. OR, you push and have the 4 year old walk next to you. You then point out which products you need and he puts them in the cart or hands them to the 2 year old to put in the cart. Involving the kids keeps them busy and occupied with thoughts of their "job" and not what they could be doing. And, having only one child out of the cart..makes it easier too! Oh, remember--it is okay to open a box of graham crackers or something to give everybody some to keep peace for awhile. Just remember to pay for your empty box at checkout.

Crys June 23, 2010 at 1:48 PM  

When I was small, my grandma took my cousin and I almost everywhere she went. When she had a long grocery list, she would buy us a small bag of doughnut holes and have us sit on the bottom rack of the cart and eat them. About halfway through the store we'd be done and her cart was heavy with groceries, so we'd walk right beside her. By that time she only needed 10 more minutes to finish. It might work for you? It'd be worth a try.

Niki,  June 23, 2010 at 8:34 PM  

I struggle b/c I have two one year old boys..just turned one. NO store has a double seat for kiddos too small for the car on the front of the carts. It has always been either my husband comes and we each get a cart or I take them in the stroller with my reusable grocery bags on the handles and whatever doesn't fit, we can't get in this trip. I wish I had more accommodating stores in our area.

But the involving them probably helps them. Making it a 'game' so they think- but you are amazing for taking them all. :)

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