Shopping With Kids: A Survival Guide

This past Friday I took a mini vacation.  I got in my Honda Odyssey all by myself and drove to Starbucks.  After my Frappucino port adventure, I sailed on to Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.  And then I went home and made dinner.

As lovely as it was, I’d just assume take the kids, or at least one.  Why?  Because when I’m ALONE I can’t shake the feeling that I have actually forgotten someone.  I think “What if I misunderstood and I was supposed to take them with me?”  Or worse, “What if I DID take them with me, but forgot about them in the backseat???”  I have to check three times to make sure the baby isn’t actually in there, left behind in the sweltering heat.

Once I am in the store, I can’t quite remember how grownups shop by themselves.   For example, imagine being halfway through shopping when you realize you are pushing a kiddie car cart without any kids.  (Yes, I did that.)

Besides, after 8 1/2 years of motherhood, I think I really have shopping WITH kids down to a science.  In fact, I’d love to share some of my tips for a smooth shopping trip with The Smalls in tow.

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#1-  Have your coffee at home.  Who doesn’t love to stroll through Target with a nice hot cup of Starbucks in hand?  Forget it.  That type of thing is for childless people.  Obviously this is harder when you went to Target strictly because you ran out of coffee.  But, if you are desperate enough to stop at the in-store Starbucks, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT let your kids talk you into buying them cake pops.  Kids who are experiencing post-cake-pop-sugar-rush running through Target?  While the baby screams for your iced coffee and you start wondering if you should just give him a sip so he’ll be quiet?  (BTW: I am in no way admitting that I have done that.  And I’ve never seen those cake-pop fueled boys playing with the colorful toilet plungers before in my life.)

#2-  Be prepared!  Even if you don’t buy cake pops, in all likelihood, someone is going to give your kids a snack at the store.  It could be the free cookies at the bakery, or just a sample from the deli.  If you don’t like walking around with a handful of half chewed pastrami in your hand, looking for a trash can, then you really should have SOMETHING with you for clean up.  Wipes or tissues would work, I definitely always think about bringing those.  If not, a crumpled receipt is adequate for a small job.  What about a case of sudden food regurgitation?   Why, just have them spit it in your reusable shopping bags.  Improvise, people, improvise.

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#3-  Dress for success!  If you read my post on looking presentable, you know this has nothing to do with being stylish.  The priority when choosing your attire is twofold: Movement and Coverage.  Oh yes, those wedge sandals ARE adorable!  And WHAT exactly are you going to do when your 3 year old simultaneously goes deaf AND BOLTS towards the toy isle?  Are you not going to wish you had shoes more suitable for a 50 yard dash?

And what about those pants that are just a LITTLE too tight paired with the T-shirt that is just long enough to hide everything *if you don’t bend*?  What happens when the baby dumps a baggie of crackers on the floor and you realize the only way you can pick them up is to expose an embarrassing amount of muffin top to everyone else in aisle five???   As you briskly move along so focused on your list that you couldn’t possibly have seen the mess, you JUST MIGHT wish you wore something that didn’t leave you in danger of having a People Of WalMart moment.  (This is a purely hypothetical scenario of course.  I can’t explain why it came to me in such detail.)

#4-  Enjoy their company!  Oh sure, shopping with kids can be a drag sometimes.  But isn’t it nice to just engage with them and have some real conversations?  Like this one:

“Mom, in the word unicycle, does uni mean one?”

“Yes, it does.”

“So, unibrow means one eyebrow?”

“Yes, it means one eyebrow.  And one eyebrow means you need to do some eyebrow plucking!”

“Nah, I wouldn’t care if I had one eyebrow.”

See, the insight you can gain into their little minds?  It doesn’t get better than that!  (Which is something to remind yourself of when someone needs and emergency bathroom break and you’ve got a cart full of frozens.)  😉  🙂

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And yes, this guide was primarily about grocery shopping trips.  What about clothing?  I am strictly an online shopper.  Shoes?  Well, it would be nice to try them on, but I can’t go back to Famous Footwear any time soon.  Really, what were they thinking with those big red benches that look like trampolines?  WHY make the store look like a play area unless you want it to become a play area?  Foolish on their part, really.  Hmm, maybe I will do a future post on how to save your sanity for real by never having to leave the house.

Now it’s your turn!  What tips do you have for shopping with kids?  Or what crazy adventures have you had in the grocery store aisles?