Prior to having my kids I really enjoyed shopping. Shopping full stop. Grocery, clothes, furniture….I enjoyed it all. I felt a little thrill after finding a good deal or by just purchasing something new and glistening. I still get these sensations but it has to be WITHOUT my children.
I fondly remember the time in my life when I could make a snap decision to go to a mall to have a browse. It was just me. No stroller, no change bag and no screaming kid who had zilch interest in this retail pleasure.
I recall a time in my life when a trip to the store to purchase a necessity like a carton of milk would set me back five minutes depending on the queues to pay. Same scenario just a half decade later, three small kids, oh and throw a Canadian Winter into the mix – half a day!!!
The challenges you will face are many and varied:
1. The Cart Catastrophe
I have three little ones. I really try to do my shopping either solo or with my youngest. There are plenty of occasions when I have gone with the boys (three and approaching two) and on desperate occasions with all three. Laura-Leigh is 5. You can almost guarantee if I put the two boys side by side in the Cart it will turn into something from the UFC. It commences pleasantly and there are smiles and food, always food. This really helps when you have to bring your kids. Anyway,within the blink of an eye, the pleasantries dissipate and the food diminishes and the fighting commences. Hugging turns to near choking. Stroking hair turns to pulling of golden locks. Happiness turns to horror.
Due to lack of sleep I made a very bad decision lately and took all three to Costco on a Friday afternoon. Sometimes I really don’t understand myself, I should know better. The usual, it starts fine. Boys side by side and Laura-Leigh skipping in front of the cart or hanging onto the side of it. The food stands are what gets me through this shopping experience. The novelty begins to wear off and we cut this trip short and head for the check out. I did mention it was Friday afternoon. Long line ups and three kids who have had enough of Costco. Ten minutes in a lineup feels like ten years, I am sure my hair greys as I stand there. The Carts as big as they are, aren’t big enough to take on the might that is the Rigney boys.
I brought Ryan to Value Village last month. I had never been and I just wanted to check it out. Starbucks Latte in left hand andRyan on right hip, I happily strolled towards the entrance. Ryan happily pressed the button, and the door opened beckoning us in to spend some cash. I popped him in the cart as I could see breakables. Within sixty seconds he had decided he didn’t dig Value Village. He began to wail. I tried to distract. I failed. We had a very quick visit. As if this wasn’t enough for me, I then proceeded to drive to Homesense, not one to give up easily. Truth be told I wanted a break from the kids play area. Same balancing act as before. This time he absolutely would NOT get into the cart. So I decided to hold on to his hand TIGHTLY. Purchases picked and we went towards the queue line. The aisle leading towards the checkout area is packed to capacity with things to touch…………..and break. He spots the cups and glasses and heads towards them. I steer him in a different direction. There is a box of wrapping paper at the very top of the queue line. Perfect. We play a game. He has to get a roll and bring it back to Mommy and then back to the box again. Inventiveness is a key ingredient to survival in a retail world. Remember this, it is imperative, if you find yourself in a store with your bored child.
2. Ample Aisle Space
I was recently collecting a prescription at the pharmacy in the Superstore. I had the boys with me and I had them perched at the front of the cart. Of course there was a couple of people in front of me. I am head pleading with them to be quick and not ask the Pharmacist too many questions. Hurry please. Jamie begins to grab things off the shelf on the left and Ryan looks at his older sibling and of course follows suit on the right. I am bang in the middle and they have both morphed into little Inspector Gadgets. No matter which way I meander the cart, one of them is going to be able to grab products. There are denture cleaning products in Jamie’s hands and Ryan steps it up a notch with a box of condoms. Do I REALLY need this prescription? Birth Control – of course I need it!!!!!!
3. Crazy Cards
You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Sometimes if with just Ryan and getting a handful of things I don’t bother with a cart and let him walk beside me. He is going to touch EVERYTHING and it’s going to take LONGER. I know these facts. Sometimes it’s nice to give him a little bit of supervised freedom. We did this recently and it went well until we arrived at the express lane checkout. There was a small wait. Fine. I turned my head for probably 5 seconds. That’s all it takes. There was Ryan at the Gift Card Unit. Most of the Gift cards were now on the floor. He had managed to remove at least 100 in such a short space of time. Perhaps he broke a Guinness Book of record that day?!
4. Touching Temptation
Kids love to touch. They will touch the products they see. They will touch the unit the product is on. They will touch bins, floors and pop the keychain from the cart into their mouth. Jamie is king of touching. This part of my blog is sounding dodgier than I want it to. He wears food instead of eating it. He will pop his hand into a glass which has ice in it to feel the ice. Going shopping with Jamie is NOT fun. Anytime we shop together you will hear me utter “Look with your eyes Jamie, touch nothing”. I implore him to refrain from touching anything. Last month I was hoping, yes hoping to buy my friend a birthday present. I had the boys with me. I went into a store which I thought I might find an ideal gift, I left 3 minutes later as touching with his eyes was not working.
Jamie is obsessed with stickers. He removes them off everything. Clothing, walls….wherever. I was recently at the checkout in Costco (I spend a lot of time here) and was attempting to pay for my purchases. Just as I was about to pop my debit card in the terminal, I glanced down, Jamie was trying to remove the stickers from the Checkout unit. I had to use one hand to punch in my PIN and the other to remove my child so that we could get out of there pronto.
5. Simply not buying it
I went to a local Garden centre with a neighbour and thought Laura-Leigh would enjoy the experience as there was a huge selection of Christmas trees and ornaments. She talked about it all day, constantly asking me the time. When six pm rolled around she had her purse ready with a quarter to her name.
I made an error with my purse. I had cash but no snacks. She was semi interested at the beginning. Then her semi interest changed to absolute pure boredom in all its glory as portrayed by a child who really doesn’t care about how her reaction is to be perceived. Again not to be outdone, I think to myself, she is five, she can be persuaded to enjoy this. The result, not a chance. At one point I turned around and she was lying across the floor. Let’s just say we left shortly after and she won’t be coming again.
It is so hard to shop with your children. I implore you, find a good time and do it solo. The funny thing for me is that a solo trip to the supermarket is the equivalent to a one week all-inclusive trip to Mexico. Think I am kidding?!
When I do go with my children, the enticements as you have read are generally gut focused, however I find saying hello to the Crabs and Lobsters in the tanks in the Superstore is a great enticement to keep them from killing each other.
If you want to avoid the expensive therapy session you will require post shopping with your kids – my advice is don’t bring them in the first place.
Remember: Never a dull moment in this house and Keep Sane.
Read more about the author