With back-to-school in full swing, there is a whole lotta shopping to be done right now. And, grocery shopping remains simply the worst. Here’s how I’m dealing.
1. Avoid at all costs. Yeah, ya heard me. There are lots of errands that suck with kids, but grocery shopping is one of the worst. Most moms I know only do it on the weekends, solo. (A little #momcation action for ya.) I used to try to do my big every-other-week Walmart trip with the children, but now that I have 3, so… Bahahaaaaaaaa! Forget that! I leave the chicklings with the hubs on Saturday morning, grab a coffee and have my own little slice of solo grocery shopping heaven.
2. Bribe, bribe and more bribes. So, since it’s not always possible to leave the little ones with the hubby, and sometimes we just really really need bananas or milk or bread at random points during the week, the with-3-kids shopping trip cannot be avoided. Step one. Bribe them for good behavior. Before, during and after. For starters, I brief them before we even get in the car, “Guys, we are going to go grocery shopping today. Porter will sit in the cart, and Sully will be walking. If you both follow directions and stay with me, we will go to the zoo afterwards.” LOL kidding. “Kids, you will get a really sugary snack afterwards.” #letsbereal
3. Keep it light. When the inevitable car meltdowns ensue, you know, because the vacation Bible school CD music is too loud for the kid in the middle row and not loud enough for the kid in the back (side note: that is a lose-lose), I keep it light and positive. We don’t need spankings or yelling before we even get to the parking lot. “Hey guys, we’re going to have so much fun at Walmart today! I can’t wait to hear what music they’re playing in the store!” Motherhood: one long sales pitch every single day.
4. Make it fun. This goes along with #3, but when we park, I ask the 2 older boys to hold hands while we walk through the parking lot. (Which is super helpful since I’m wearing the baby.) When we get the store, I say, “Who can find the shopping carts first?” Competition will win them every time.
5. Be prepared. Like, I plan my route through the store in my head on the way there. (During the musical meltdown. Just tune it out and map out that store.) First, diapers (which takes up practically the whole cart when you have 3 kids under 4). Then cleaning stuff. Then dairy, and quickly make my way through the rest of the store. Since I’m always trying to save a few bucks, there’s an app I just started using that’s really helped me plan ahead and save money. It’s called Flipp, and it’s super cool. You just download, put in your zip code, favorite stores and what you usually shop for. Then, it tells you exactly what’s on on sale at the stores you go to.
I am usually anti-apps because I feel like they take forever to start working, but I literally did this between 2 commercial breaks during my TV zone-out session while the kids napped the other day. (Yes, they finally napped. Praise Jesus.)
Since I’m on Whole30, we are putting away eggs and chicken faster than my kids come running when I open a bag of Oreos. So I was stoked when I saw that chicken was only $1.99 a pound at Walmart. Bam!
6. Don’t stop for strangers. The obligatory “you have your hands full” or “do you know what causes that” comments from complete strangers need to be ignored. Of course, they should always be ignored, but today you have a special reason. It is this: the moment you step into the store, your trip is back-timed to the I-want-snacks meltdown or boredom-that-causes-bad-kid-behavior phenomenon that will inevitably begin when you’re about three-quarters of the way done. Just smile and keep walking.
7. Don’t talk on the phone. Again, you must stay your course for kid meltdown reasons mentioned in #6. Resist the tempting urge to call the pediatrician to make the 4-month-old’s 3-month doctor appointment, or the hubby to ask why that warning light went on in your car. You cannot talk to anyone else. Plus, if you’re talking on the phone, you might miss the deals I found on back-to-school backpacks.
And with that, you just saved yourself a return trip to Target. #momforthewin
8. Distract. “What, you want chocolate Goldfish? Oh guys, look quick! Let’s take a selfie that mom can post on Instagram to brag that she survived taking 3 kids under 4 to Walmart!”
Yes, I am a baller. And I know it.
9. Make bathroom stops if needed. The grocery store is stressful enough without someone needing to pee, poop or have their diaper changed. Don’t raise the stakes by making anyone hold it because you’re 8 minutes from the finish line. Yes, it’s annoying because you have to leave the cart outside, unload all the kids and take your purse in. But it sure beats having to pee into a cup in the car (which we all know I have done).
10. If there are desperate times, take desperate measures. I’m talking about the in-store snack bribery. We’ve all done it. I started with kid #1 saying I’d never open something mid-grocery trip and let them eat it. Um, that stopped about 4 minutes into my first trip to the store when I had kid #2. Now, with 3 of them, I’m like, “Sure, pick whatever you want from the shelves and eat the entire package if you want.” Kidding. Kind of.
11. Do whatever you can to avoid yelling in the checkout line. This is the time when push has come to shove. When the toddlers have maxed out on birthday cake Oreos, and you’re on borrowed time. And then there is nothing but 20-minute lines at the checkout counters. Oh, aaaaand, the checkout aisles were clearly designed to make my life misery, as hundreds of shiny packages and bright objects and candies and gum are within arm’s check of all 3 of my children. Keep calm and unload on. You’re almost done.
12. Remember the wallet! Common and expected crazed-mom error! It happens. All the time. You are so happy to be checked out, you don’t realize that the checker accidentally charged you for 2 boxes of macaroni, and you don’t even care. You can see the finish line! It’s time to sprint. Just don’t sprint out of the store and forget your wallet. Because that basically sends you back to step 1. And ain’t nobody got time for that. Or enough birthday cake Oreos.
13 thru 39. Breathe. Recenter, pray, meditate. Whatever you need to do. It’s over. I gave this one 26 points because that’s directly proportional to how much time it takes to recover from this type of a grocery shopping trip, compared to how long the trip actually took. (And that might be conservative.)
Congrats, Mama. You’re done.
Until you pull out of the parking lot and you realize you forgot milk.