Monday, October 12, 2015

Q & A with an Experienced Mom: How To Go Grocery Shopping with a Toddler

Between my five children, I figure that I've gone grocery shopping with a toddler in tow at least 1,000 times.

Maybe not that many times, but it sure feels like it.
Q & Q with an Experienced Mom: How to Go Grocery Shopping with a Toddler -- a mom of 5 shares everything she's learned about how NOT to have a successful grocery shopping with your 12-18 month old.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

So if you're at home pulling your hair out because there's no food in the house and you just don't know if you can handle taking your toddler to the store one more time... well, I'm doing that, too.

Here are the things I've learned about how  or maybe how NOT to  have a successful grocery shopping trip with toddlers.

Q: When is the best time to take a toddler grocery shopping?

A: If you're talking about the time of day, it's when your toddler is fed and well-rested  but everyone knows that toddlers are always hungry and any time you leave the house it's going to run up against naptime, so that advice does you no good. Sorry.

If you're talking about the age of the child, it's always exciting to shop during that window where he's old enough to pitch a fit if you don't let him get out and walk, but young enough to wander off without any concept of what it means to "stay by the cart." At that point he'll also just be tall enough to drop bottles of mouthwash into strangers' carts when you're not looking.

Q: What should I bring with me to keep my toddler entertained?

A: The great thing about taking toddlers on errands is, it really doesn't matter what you have in your purse. You could have a live clown in there to make balloon animals and play peek-a-boo with your child and he wouldn't even look at it. As a toddler, his one and only goal is to Get. Out. Of. The. Cart.

(Snacks might be helpful, but I caution against giving him your phone and putting on Team Umizoomi because he'll throw it on the floor faster than you can say "Everybody crazy shake!" He's no dummy. He wants out.)

Q: My regular grocery store doesn't have carts shaped like cars, but the place down the street does. Should I switch stores?

A: No. Or yes. You know what? It doesn't matter. If you get the car cart you might enjoy an extra 20 minutes of peaceful staying-in-the-cart time.

But now you've set the bar pretty high. Your toddler knows that such a thing as a car cart exists, so you'd better be prepared to move heaven and earth to get one every single time. Your day is pretty much ruined if the only one left is the one with the broken steering wheel, and if there are no car carts at all you should just go home and do your best to survive on ketchup and the crumbs from the bottom of your toaster.

Q: How should I handle temper tantrums in the middle of the trip?

A: You'll get plenty of unsolicited advice if your child has a tantrum in public, so I don't know if I really need to cover this one.

If your toddler is particularly vocal about his dislike of grocery shopping, you'll be told twice that he's too hot, once that he's too cold, and three times that this goes by so fast and you should enjoy every single moment. Every person you meet will inform you that he's pulling his socks off.

A nice lady in the ethnic foods aisle will see how frazzled you are and ask with a smile, "How old is he?" which means, "Why did you put your pet Tasmanian devil in a diaper?" to which you'll smile back and say, "18 months" which means "HELP ME!!!!" Then she'll push her cart away saying, "Aww, he's cute" which is code for "I really hope we don't keep running into each other in all the other aisles."

As for how you should respond to your toddler's tantrum? I don't know. All I can tell you is, handing him to the guy behind the deli counter and running away is frowned upon.

Q: What are your best tips to keep toddlers happy at the checkout?

A: This is where you really need to step up your game, because you'll be busy. First, you need to coerce your toddler to be still while the cashier weighs him so you know how much you owe for all the grapes he's been eating out of the back of the cart. Then you need to count and pay for the handfuls of York Peppermint Patties that he smashed in his fists while you were unloading the rest of your groceries.

At this point there's not a whole lot you can do, because your toddler has HAD IT with shopping. The best you can hope for is that the bagboy will lean in close and say something menacing like, "Hey, little buddy!" With any luck, he'll remain frozen with fear until he regains his senses in the parking lot and has a tantrum when you try to buckle him into his car seat.

Click to Share:
Unremarkable Files


Jenny said...

Not to mention, with the car cart, you'll spend that extra 20 minutes trying to steer it down the first isle. And the snacks you have in your purse don't matter because even if they picked the snacks out at home before you left, they somehow never want those ones at the store.

Chaun said...

Ha! This is a good one. Although now I'm a little nervous for my baby's stage of tantrum thowing (which is unavoidable, but still.)

Meredith said...

Not to brag or anything, but my grocery store has a free daycare. They only have to be 2 to go in. MIRACLE!

Unknown said...

I think I've experienced all of these! Sometimes my buddy is a great little helper. Sometimes he's very... screamy. Either way it's an adventure that tests my speed, patience and bribery skills.

"But now you've set the bar pretty high. Your toddler knows that such a thing as a car cart exists, so you'd better be prepared to move heaven and earth to get one every single time."

This is so true with so many things... car carts, indoor playgrounds, fast food restaurants. Fast food restaurants with indoor playgrounds.

Jenny Evans (sister, not author) said...

I cannot stop laughing at the last one!

Anonymous said...

Lynne from UK
When I had my third (so had a new born boy, a 14 month girl and a 27 month old boy) I would feed them all and change them all, then corral the eldest in the play pen and leave my daughter crawling round the floor while I took baby down stairs and got twin pram with buggy out of shed and put baby in. Up stairs harness and reins on son, harness on daughter, downstairs son in buggy, daughter on seat over pram, struggle with door as leaving the building. Walk along road to shop. Leave sleeping baby in pram outside shop, daughter in trolley seat tie reins on trolley, son throws tantrum because he wants to be in trolley, find the items needed let son get the non breakables. Tantrums every time you put breakable in trolley, smiles when he can give you item. Pay and pack. Hang bags on buggy handles after putting little ones in buggy and on pram seat. Walk home (baby still sleeping). Struggle in through building door. Have old lady who lives below moan about noise from children playing and complaining about us using our balcony for drying our washing as she doesn't like seeing my cloth nappies. Take shopping bags off buggy handles, leave on floor by buggy, carry daughter and son upstairs, leaving sleeping baby in pram. Leave son in playpen and daughter on living room floor playing go downstairs. Pick up shopping bags take up and put in the kitchen. Back down put buggy away and carry baby (still sleeping) upstairs ignoring old lady who is now moaning about noise of children playing (daughter rolling a jingle ball and giggling . Son playing with Jack in a box and shouting boo as it jumps out. Put now wide awake baby in bouncy cradle seat in kitchen give toddlers a biccie each while I unpack shopping and make baby's bottle and fill sippy cups for toddlers. Take baby in cradle seat with bottle and cups tucked in, release son from play pen give toddlers sippy cups feed baby bottle and wish I'd got me a drink and biccie too. As I was a lone parent living in the maisonette was awkward (woman downstairs would moan all the time about noise from washing machine, children playing, tv, radio, hoover, toilet flushing) was relieved to move out into a house when baby was two months old. Got a new to me large "carriage" pram when I moved and baby lay on sons lap daughter still sat on pram seat, going home loaded up with babies and shopping a wheel would drop off, I'd bend down pick it up, and carry on home having to twirl round in the road when crossing to get up on the other pavement singing "three wheels on my wagon". Used to meet many older people who would tell me I'd lost a wheel and I'd wave it towards them and say I was giving it a rest!! :D having a sense of humour will get you through everything. My children are now 28, 29 & 30 & I laugh at my 19 month grandson's attempts at tantrums as eldest son had ADHD and was definitely the tantrum king!! :D

Jenny Evans said...

Yes, watch out for hernias if you do go the car cart route!

Jenny Evans said...

I'm not crying, I just have something in my eye, okay?

Jenny Evans said...

So glad you are able to function after all that - and even laugh!