The panic. I know. I have it, I feel it. Dammit, I can feel yours. The sheer perspiration I have thinking about it. We need something and I might have to go to the shop to get it. And I might have to bring my actual children with me. I know, it’s an insane thought.
There’s the tantrums, the decision making (what decision making woman!! That’s not allowed!) The search for your required product. What to do if they have RUN OUT of said product. What if you’re in a store with an awkward layout. Why is the bread at the back of this Shop, dear God save me!
Sanitary towels IN THE ARMPITS type sweats!!
There is the simple answer: Don’t…! Go online you lunatic, you might say… Save the heart failure and sweats… And if that’s your thing, then you’ve just completed this article in 3.5 paragraphs. No need to go further. But if you’re a lunatic like me who actually likes to get outside of the house occasionally, and you think it’ll be different then there are some simple tips:
Short run? Prepare, prepare, prepare.
I know mothers who dream of browsing in shops and looking at the cheese counter, or checking out which shade of brown boot will go with your new jeans. This kind of shopping with children in tow is over. Consider it if you have an amicable child, or they are over 10 years of age, and keep it to one of these types. But this kind of shopping is not to be attempted under any circumstances with children of any other kind. I have 3 usually with me. So what do I do if I need a few things for th’dinner? WRITE A LIST. I swear to all that is holy that this is the only way to do it. Write the list in the order the items appear in the layout of the store. So bread first, fruits next, tin foil last, you get the picture. I’ve done this with 3 children and I march through the store like the Pied Piper with them in a stream behind me– firing out instructions every few seconds, as necessary. Calling out to the eldest who’s old enough to run and find certain things, citing a designated meeting spot and continuing until you have your list complete. Get them to do the scanning at the self-scan. This might seem like complete lunacy, but I can assure you if you don’t care that it’ll take twice as long, then do it. It keeps them occupied and keeps bickering to a minimum. Oversee it like you’re micro managing an intern. Hover even. Pack and leave, asap.
Monthly/Weekly Family shop? Scream no more!!!
Need a long family shop? The only way is either a smaller shop, or nerves of steel. You decide. I’ve seen children, toddlers and screamers, at shops with parents shouting at them. Forget this. If the kid is being a difficult you-know-what for whatever reason, forget about it, call it evens and go home; or develop the thick rubbery skin I have over the years. It’s simple – I don’t care! I used to, but I really don’t anymore. I pull out my Batman voice for hushed threats to ensure there is decent behaviour as we continue. I will only ever go to the smaller supermarkets with a list (see above) for the long shop. You have to keep them all busy, again in my case I have 3, so a job a piece. The trick for me is one pushing a trolley, one IN the trolley, the other firing stuff in. Have them all pack at the checkout at speed. And get out quick.
If it’s clothes or similar you need to pick up, well you’re completely bonkers. Late night shopping is an option? What if that’s not an option? Well I can honestly say the ONLY way is preparation. Get online if you can and see what your options are. Only a few weeks ago I had the option of actually shopping on my own with no children and it was a gloriously indulgent experience and I would highly recommend it. I even ate alone. It was extremely pleasurable. I tried on garment after garment, and the number of women in adjacent dressing rooms with children moaning at them was quite an eye-opener. In my opinion, this is one of those times that tablets and phones are required. 3 children? Bring 4 tablets/phones/kindles, one as a back up. There is no way you can make a decision with someone wrecking your head to leave. If you wanted that you could just bring the husband!! I would implore you to seriously consider a babysitter also.
Shopping is something we all need to do. We all need to figure out the best way that suits us. I know doing this with one child is easy, but as your brood multiplies, it gets tricky and you might just figure online is the only way, and it’s great, but there are ways around this if you feel like “Her Indoors” a bit too much.
Lastly – Be kind to one another.
I know this may be a bit deep, but I think if we are all kinder to other parents it can make life easier for all of us. By that I mean not minding other people kids, not only that but completely ignore them, maybe even stepping over them if they are in the way, you know, on the floor, working out the tantrum. No staring, no neck stretches to see who’s kid is in meltdown at the checkout. Just ignore. The other one I do is to let mothers past me in a shopping queue. Even if they have more shopping and less kids. If I get the impression they are struggling, a bit of help in a small way can just get them through this horrible experience.
In summary (or if you just scrolled to the bottom):
Do not care what other people think of your child. Or their behaviour. Children are children. Laugh at the strangers if they look at you. We were all kids once. Turn on the deaf ears.
Prepare. Research. Check the website. Then go and shop.
Bring a list. Know the store layout.
Give the kids jobs to do. And don’t sweat the time it takes.
Bring distraction if necessary.
Be kind to other struggling parents.