Imagine this, you are in the grocery store hoping to get in and out as quickly as possible, and down an aisle, you see a scene of complete chaos. A man is distracted as he looks up and down a shelf while the baby in his cart is chewing on the handlebar. A mom, pushing another cart (with another baby), is picking up items thrown on the floor while chasing after a larger child putting every item on eye-level into his own child-sized cart. Then the mom snaps at the man, and you realize that they are all together!
Well, that was my family and me at Shop Rite last week! And it was a disaster! With three kids, 3 and under, I normally do everything possible to avoid grocery shopping with them. Who’s doing the shopping this week has been one of the biggest arguments lately with my husband.
On the days that I do have help with my kids, grocery shopping never makes it to the top of the list of things to do. Neither my husband nor myself want to go shopping after a long day of working or watching the kids. And let’s face it when you have a fully stocked fridge and pantry, it doesn’t leave room for the excuse to order take-out!
However, this week I was forced to take them all to the store alone or starve! Even with the images in my head of the previous week, I knew I had to do it. And guess what? We survived the grocery store and even had a little bit of fun. Here’s how…
Shop Early – I got everyone dressed and in the car immediately after finishing breakfast. They had full tummies and were well rested from the night before. Leaving so early, I knew the trip wouldn’t interfere with the twins’ morning nap. Also, there aren’t many people out shopping at 9 a.m.
Make a List – Before leaving the house, I made a quick meal plan for the week and jotted down the items each meal required. I also did a quick check in the fridge and pantry to see what other items were needed. I listed the items in the general order that I would find them in the store. While shopping, the list forced me to stay focused and avoid buying items that were not necessary.
Push and Pull – To have a successful visit, I needed to make sure all three children were not able to roam freely. I decided to put the twins in my double stroller and my oldest seated in the front of the cart. I pushed the stroller (using my body weight to steer), pulling the cart behind me. I made sure to stay in the center of the aisles so no little hands could reach the shelves.
Offer Choices – I needed to keep my big boy occupied, so I put him in charge of our list. Although he can’t yet read, I kept asking him to tell me what we still needed. He’s very bossy, so this was a great job for him. I also offered choices. Red grapes or green ones? Goldfish or Wheat Thins? Even my 13-month-olds were able to point (and grunt) to a few items.
Don’t Make Eye Contact – During most of the time, I kept a smile on my face and my head down. Every shopper we passed definitely stopped and looked in awe of us. I must admit I felt like the ringleader in a traveling circus. Of course, most people had comments to make, “Wow!” “Are they all yours?” “You are brave.” Since I had no time to stop and chat (a meltdown could occur at any moment), I kept on going, often biting my tongue. I always come up with great comeback comments hours later!
Deep Breaths – When trying something new and unexpected, I’m always anxious. Sometimes it helps to stop for a moment and take a deep breath. And on this trip, trust me, I took a lot of them. Especially each time the cart hit my ankle when I pulled a little too hard. When we were done and pulled up to the checkout line, I took the largest breath of them all. We did it! I was able to successfully grocery shop with all of my children.