Objectively going to the supermarket should be easy.
Just go in, collect the things you want, buy them, load them in the car and go home.
Children can make a ‘pop in’ shopping experience a red-faced nightmare.
You need to weigh up potential hazards, try to pre-empt disaster and get in and out quickly before your children start a performance that you would rather not have acted out in public.
(I don’t want an encore to the toddler screaming, baby crying, milk squirting/boob leaking, biscuit throwing, card losing, banana mushing, nappy leaking, hair tearing, wall climbing public performances that I may or may not have experienced recently).
I now understand why a lot of families do their shopping online.
Why aren’t supermarkets more parent friendly?
They should have a drive-through option for 12 items or less with coffees for mummies and snack-packs for kiddies.
They should have a nanny facility so that the ‘just pop’/‘quick dash’ that you used to do before you had children could still be possible.
The car parks should be roomy for loading children in and out safely around the grocery trolley.
There should be car parking attendants who can load your groceries into your car for you while you strap the kids in…
It should be possible to leisurely saunter the aisles in heels if one wanted to…
I miss my old ‘just dash ins’ for milk, bread, eggs and two or three more things. Nowadays I need a full mental logistics breakdown on my way there.
Here are some details of my personal logistical nightmare:
Logistics brainstorm of toddler and baby with pros and cons:
1. Toddler walks and baby is in sling
Toddler is entertained with walking and ‘helping’. I can buy a trolley load of things. Breastfeeding on the go is possible with sling. Toddler can run away. Mummy can’t chase easily wearing sling.
Sling is in way of cart at checkout. Difficulties pushing trolley and holding hand of toddler at the same time.
2. Toddler in cart and baby in front pack.
Toddler is contained and baby is nestled nicely. Can’t breastfeed in front pack easily. Toddler can climb out of trolley and front pack is in way of man-handling toddler back into seated position.
Red-faced mummy and crying baby
3. Baby in pram and toddler walking or being carried on hip.
Easy to fill parcel tray of baby pram with ‘some’ items. Toddler can help. Not many groceries fit into parcel tray of pram. Difficult to carry toddler and load groceries.
Red-faced mummy and stroppy toddler.
4.Toddler in stroller and baby in front pack with bags on back of stroller.
Toddler is contained. Baby is nestled nicely. No cumbersome trolley. Too many groceries cause toddler to tip. Toddler can climb out of stroller. Bags interfere with wheels of stroller. Can’t see beyond baby to see groceries in bags.
Red-faced mummy and damaged groceries.
5. Leave kids in car
Mummy has hands free. Illegal. Nor safe for kids. Not advised. Can’t do it. Red-faced mummy stays in car with kids and probably gets drive through takeaways instead of groceries.
To be honest, I haven’t yet found a solution that is fool proof. Each solution has its own problems and I have learned to embrace the red face and try to plan ahead.
Here are some guilt-free supermarket stress-avoidance tips if you, like me, prefer to go in store for groceries rather than shopping online.
1. Wear pants with pockets (cash/card/keys are easier to find in a hurry this way and you can leave your handbag at home)
2. Take snacks or a toy to entertain the toddler or make the shopping a game/learning experience (counting/sorting/stacking)
3. Use canvas reusable bags (not breakable plastic ones) on the stroller for quick purchases. (Filling the bag as you go also helps you monitor how much you can carry to the car)
4. Buy the kids a treat as a reward for good behaviour – but treat yourself too for enduring the dreaded supermarket.
5. Bring a friend to stay in the car with the kids while you collect some quick groceries and a coffee to thank them.
6. Be brave, stick with 12 items or less and embrace the red face as a 99% likely phenomenon.
Have I missed a wonder tip? How do you survive the supermarket?