Never take the children at lunchtime. They’ll be so hungry they’ll want you to purchase everything in the store, even things they don’t like, including green olives with those red bits in the center. They won’t nap later because inevitably they will fall asleep on the way home after all the excitement of pooping in a public restroom and pointing and yelling at strangers. Once they wake up, they won’t go back down because they’ll be hungry. Remember, you being the ill-prepared, disorganized mom never gave them lunch!!! What a vicious circle.
Map out your route and for the love of God, bring a list man! If you know where you are going and what you need, you have a better chance of getting in and out with as little drama as possible.
Know your store. This touches upon number 2. Stores like Target, Walmart and Sam’s sell more than groceries and require you to avoid certain sections. The $1-$3 area at the front of Target is particularly troublesome, and can turn into a black hole which will suck you in and spit you out thirty, sometimes forty minutes later. You will become the owner of several toys you don’t want or need and many of them will feature the lovely ladies from Frozen. You know them, don't you? Go in and head straight for the grocery section keeping them occupied. Sing Christmas Carols, ride a unicycle—anything to distract them until you get to where you need to be. Keep your eyes on the prize, Mama.
Have them get rid of bodily waste at home. When you go to the store, stopping for bathroom breaks slows you down. When Tight Pants, the three-year-old told me she had to poop in Sam’s I asked why she didn’t tell me a few minutes prior. If she had, maybe she wouldn’t have commented, “I have to poop now or I won’t make it.” Her response was mature, “I didn’t have to poop even a minute ago.” Well played, Tight Pants, well played. Peeing and Pooping have no place in shopping…EVER. Also, if you bring a baby with you, make sure you bring a diaper. My son, now 10, once took a large dump. It dripped down my jeans and for the remainder of our trip, I had a large brown stain on my leg. People stared …and laughed, A LOT.
My final and most important advice, one which will alleviate the need to follow the first four guidelines I've laid out…if you have to go grocery shopping LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME. I know this isn't always possible, but it will make your life and the lives of your fellow shoppers so much easier. Think how fun and manageable grocery shopping would be if everyone followed this simple rule. Adults would be cruising in and out of aisles, having meaningful discussions over free samples of apple wood sausage, while high-fiving, and wondering why they’d never thought of this sooner. Those without children would smile and thank you for leaving your pointing, yelling spawn at home with their less than attentive father. So people, join me in this new and peaceful movement to bring joy back to grocery shopping. A once thankless and mandatory task can become something to love instead of fear.
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