The 7 Stages of Grocery Shopping with a Toddler

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Grocery

When I first plucked up the courage to bring the baby with me to the shops on a solo trip, it was a real achievement. He was just a few weeks old and in my mind it was like tackling Everest. I’d be beyond thrilled if I manged to get a parent and child space (although don’t get me going on this topic as you’ll be here all day listening to me rant!) and I’d proudly put the maxi-cosi into one of those specially equipped trolleys and off we’d go on what I though was a massive adventure.

Most of the time, he’d stay asleep and maybe just wake up as I was finishing the packing up of the groceries. It was a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, but in those hazy, scary, early, baby days, it was monumentally huge.

Now though, now bringing my 1 year old to the supermarket really is like tackling Everest… that or trying to corral a wild animal off the plains and making them sit still for an hour! I don’t know how anyone manages with more than one young child in tow! To you, I bow down in awe.

Here’s my rundown of the 7 phases of bringing your wobbler grocery shopping –

Stage 1 – You drive into the carpark and all the parent and child spaces are gone… most are filled with complete gits who have no kids on board, but see nothing wrong with parking in these hallowed spaces. Leaving you to schlep off to the outer Hebrides and park in a tiny space where you can barely get yourself, let alone the child out of the car. Yes… you can already feel the stress levels rising.

Stage 2 – His initial delight at being in the trolley is akin to a grown up winning the lotto. His face is literally one of pure joy. The little legs swing, the hands follow with excitement and his head turns around widely, eagerly taking everything in. It lasts until we get into the shop and then he wants to get out and crawl or pull himself up on anything he can see.

Stage 3 – Grabbing, grabbing everything. Yes everything. From the knickers to the eggs, to the bleach and even the wine (good God anything but the wine!), literally everything that is remotely in his eye line, is in his mind ripe for grabbing. And even if I park him a good distance from said item, he now slides to the side James Bond style and reaches until he gets his prize.

Stage 4 – The breakages. As night follows day, breakages soon follow. Once his little hands has something in his sights, that’s it, he will not rest until it is in his chubby paw. Once there, it’s hurled around, sometimes put into his mouth and then ultimately flung into the air with more gusto than Rory Best throwing the ball into the Irish line-out. Cue broken glass, eggs, yogurts and even wine all over the floor and an embarrassed mammy hightailing it out of there apologising en-masse, as I go.

Stage 5– The meltdowns. Dear God the meltdowns! ‘I want to grab the pineapples! Why can’t I eat the toilet duck? Let me out of the trolley. Put me back in the trolley. How dare you walk over to the carrots without me’, and so on and so forth.

Stage 6 – The checkout. It’s one thing keeping him amused while the trolley is in motion, but when we get to the checkout queue and have to stay still, that is when shit really goes down. I try and give him my keys, which so far is always a winner… that is until I have to wrestle them out of his hand to let the person on the till scan the clubcard. Needless to say, it’s the end of his world. Once that passes, his attention is on the belt, where he does his James Bond tilt and tries to grab everything off it. Then if he looks over his other shoulder he sees an entire shelf of shiny chocolate bars, sweets, chewing gum etc. within easy reach… whoever thought it was a good idea to put those items there should be shot in the face repeatedly with a fully loaded nappy cannon.

Stage 7 – Back to the car. Finally, you’ve made it through the melee and madness. Soon you’ll be in the car and there’s a good chance he might nod off on the journey home. But wait. Oh yes, you can’t even get into the bloody car because you had to park in a tiny space thanks to the gits who stole the parent and child parking spaces…

Niamh O'Reilly
Niamh O'Reilly
A full time feature and copy writer, Niamh is a dog-mad, shoe-obsessed, movie-buff, with a curious penchant for politics. Up until her son arrived in December 2016, she’d never changed a nappy, made a bottle or even held a baby for more than 5 minutes without it unleashing what she refers to as ‘the death roar’. Completely unprepared for this momentous change in her life, she’s now trying to navigate the brand new world of motherhood with honesty, grace, love and humour. You can also catch her writing about her journey over at www.themammyblog.ie