The first weekend we stayed out at the house, I went to Stop and Shop after I put the kids to bed at about 9pm. I thought it was magical. I strolled leisurely through the empty aisles of bread and yogurt, making sure to walk up and down each and every one. I even walked through the pet food aisle which I have no use for whatsoever. Why didn't anybody tell me grocery shopping in the burbs was like taking a vacation?
At home in the city, we do one of three things. We order food online from Fresh Direct, we make harried solo trips to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods where the goal is to get on line as soon as you enter the store, and we make quick trips to corner bodegas on our way home from work.
I can count the number of times we've taken Mazzy and Harlow to a grocery store on one hand.
Stop and Shop seemed like a whole activity in itself. I thought my kids would fall in love with all the wide open space. It was not a grocery store. It was a SUPERMARKET. They even have those carts with the plastic cars on the end and I knew both my girls would go crazy for them.
So I loaded up the kids in the car and told them we were going some place fun. I told them it was the biggest grocery store they had ever seen. When we arrived, they were indeed, beyond excited about the car carts. They were equally excited when they saw rows and rows of flourescent-lit groceries as far as the eye could see.
"WHOA" said Mazzy capturing the moment perfectly. I had done it. I had wowed them with a new experience.
Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.
Turns out, the supermarket is not a fun activity at all. It is a minefield filled with frosted rice krispie treats, jumbo chocolate chip muffins, boxes of sugar cereals and bags of artificially flavored chips. When your children have never come face-to-face with these items before, they assume you are going to share in their excitement. When you don't, the whining starts, which can escalate into tears (the fake kind), and then lead to very public parenting choices.
I realized quickly I had to avoid certain aisles like the plague (I'm talking to you, CANDY AISLE), but Mazzy would find treats she never knew existed on the end displays. The worst offenders being the treats that were shaped like her favorite cartoon characters.
"MOM! LOOK!!! PURPLE FROSTED SOPHIA THE FIRST COOKIES!!!!!"
Then I'd have to say things like, "Wow, that's amazing! LOOK! BROCCOLI!!!!"
She wasn't fooled.
"I WANT THE SOPHIA COOKIES!!!!"
"We can't get everything we want."
"Those aren't even real tears."
Then my favorite— the foot stomping.
"But a want *stamp* Sophia the— LOOK! MOM!!!!!! MY LITTLE PONY RAINBOW SPRINKLE DONUTS!!!!
At least she was easily distracted?
Making things harder was that it was nearly impossible to navigate my huge car cart away from the offending treats fast enough. I don't think there is one person at Stop and Shop who made it out of there without the back of their ankles scraped. (My apologies! I'm new around here!)
Finally, Mazzy and Harlow broke free of the car cart and decided they could conquer more grocery store territory on her own. Plus, the lower shelves seemed like they were built just for them.
That's when they discovered the toy aisle.
WHY IS THERE A TOY AISLE IN THE GROCERY STORE???
Oh, I know. So that moms who have been denying their child Spongebob Squarepants Sponge Cake and Hello Kitty Ice Cream Bars can feel good about giving them a piece of plastic crap that won't wreck their food preferences forever.
Mazzy fell in love with a miniature Minnie Mouse rocking a purple cat in a cradle. Necessary I know. Then she saw a display of Bubble Guppies stuffed animals. "Harlow, loves Bubble Guppies!!!" She handed one to Harlow which sealed its fate. Harlow was not letting go of that thing for anybody. In fact, she grabbed three more and made a run for it, like she had momentarily confused grocery shopping with looting.
"Alright, you can each have one toy."
Then I hightailed it to the check-out line before I started saying "yes" to other things too.
But we weren't out of the woods yet!
Harlow discovered the impulse candy rack and there was nothing I could do to divert her attention. She studied her options closely and then hugged a Snickers bar like it was her new best friend.
I put it back. Then she decided to bypass me altogether by handing a package of Reeses Peanutbutter Cups directly to the cashier.
HOW DOES SHE EVEN KNOW???
When we got home, Mazzy grabbed an old stuffed dog and offered it to Harlow in exchange for her Bubble Guppies toy. Harlow honored the exchange and then Mazzy ran up to me excitedly, "Look Mom! Instead of grabbing the toy away from Harlow, I traded for something else just like you always tell me to!!!"
She was right. I do always tell her to do that. "That's great, Mazzy. You tricked me into getting your sister a toy and then you tricked your sister into giving it to you."
"Yeah! I have two new toys!"
I will never take my children to the supermarket again.
Ha! That’s why my little one stays in the shopping cart the whole time if I have to bring her! I usually go alone. If she’s with me I tell her if she’s good we’ll say hi to the Elmo balloons at the checkout isle (she doesn’t know we can’t take them home… yet).
Also, with the sugary cereal – I tell her it’s only for the mascots on the box to eat. So she thinks Trix cereal is for bunnies.
Never, ever, ever do that again. Ever. Grocery shopping my “me” time on a Sunday morning, as pathetic as that sounds!
It can be fun- just stick to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and the like (no mascot cereal, more appropriate choices) – and lose all expectations that you are going to be out in any reasonable amount of time. Also, most stores are 100% fine with you opening a box of whatever snacks you are buying and letting the kids munch while shopping- presuming you pay for them when you check out, of course!
Never, ever, ever ,ever let them out of the cart. I don’t unbuckle the seat belt until I’m back in the parking lot. But they have more fun when I push the cart with the car, I find empty aisles and run down them and they giggle.
I cried…this is hysterical. Love the pre-loot Harlow photo.
Those car carts are my biggest nemesis. That and the fact that Quinn now remembers the free cookies in the bakery, even though we go grocery shopping in the morning. I usually make her wait til we’re done shopping to get the cookie, that way I can take it away if she misbehaves. And we look at the toys if she’s good too, I’m usually close to getting roped into buying one, but I’ve been pretty good.
From the very beginning I have taught my daughters that only dada buys that stuff. We don’t get cookies or toys without him there. Thankfully as a stay at home mom, he only goes shopping with them once or twice a month.
Never let them out of the cart! For us since we keep koshers it’s really easy to say no-I just tell my 3 year old it’s not kosher & that’s the end. As for the impulse candy by the register, I have a rule that it’s candy only for when she’s in the store by herself without parents, grandparents…. That works well & I have about 10 years before she can go to the store herself 🙂
Even though they are gross, I always strap my kids into the cart so they couldn’t escape – and now that they are in school, I blissfully shop alone!!
Wow, I just read this through tears of laughter. I try to avoid taking any of my kids grocery shopping with me, but there are times when all three are in tow. And it is exactly as you described. I mostly shop Trader Joe’s, but there is a Harris Teeter and Safeway within walking distance of my house so sometimes I have to go there. I’m sorry your wonderful experience was overshadowed by crazy, tyrannical, little dictators. It happens to the best of us.
If you think that is bad just wait and see what happens if you ever have to take a trip with them to Walmart or Target…It only gets worse.
Love the photo documentation of this. The suburbs are a whole new world. I love to do Fairway shopping with my one year old because of the uppababy basket. Between that, google express shopping and fresh direct i haven’t carried more than a light bag of groceries in almost 2 years.
Oh, those stupid cars! My youngest loves those things and they are so hard to push through the store. I get very happy when I see that there are none by the regular carts. It’s stops the fight.
I’ve taken to going to the “cold” grocery store so that we plow through quickly and get out before our feet freeze. It is the coldest grocery that I’ve ever seen, but it works with the kids. They are in no mood to stroll around and check things out.
I had my girls (4yr & 2yr) well trained. I start taking them out shopping when they were little, so it was nothing new or exciting for them. I told them what’s on the list, and I do my best try to stick to my list so they know if it’s not on the list, we are not getting it “this time”. They had asked me for this or that once or twice that was it. We can even go to Toy-R-Us to play and leave without any toy or any tear.
I feel your pain. I’m a single mom and I can’t even remember that last time I was able to go to the grocery store without my daughter. The checkout is the WORST! WHY?! The clerk usually ends up scrambling for stickers to appease her.
Haha!!! We all loose taking the littles grocery shopping; hence, most of our grocery shopping is done by my husband at night or me on my way to daycare pickup. Our little’s request is Kinder Eggs – a chocolate egg with a crappy toy inside (thankfully for you, it’s contraband in the US)!
Mommy Shorts, we have failed you. We failed to inform you of the trap a supermarket is and failed to prepare you.
1. Go alone if you can, if not, make sure to strap who ever fits in the seat and make the other push or at least hold on. Not a guarantee that you’ll be able to grab her shirt before she runs towards the cartoon fake fruit treats.
2. Must stay away from the car carts. Imagine a 5-foot woman pushing that thing. And they always get out on their own.
3. Don’t let them look down. Yes, the supermarkets put all the kid stuff at their eye-level.
4. Stick to the perimeter. Good stuff on the sides and back, bad stuff in the middle.
5. Don’t take them with you if they’re hungry. They’ll want EVERYTHING.
6. At check-out, rush them through the candy display and make them wait for you where food is being bagged. Otherwise they will grab EVERYTHING!
Better late than never, right?
Oh! one more thing. If they have those cute kid size shopping carts, STAY AWAY FROM THEM. It only gets worse.
-Mom from the SoCal burbs
My husband hates grocery shopping so every Sunday morning I pretend that going to the grocery store is this huge chore for me but secretly I love it. I let him take care of the kid and I get uninterrupted free time at the store!
It is so true. They design the supermarkets to be a minefield for parents. You are absolutely right about what is on the kids’ level. Everything we don’t want them to want. Mostly, my husband does our grocery shopping solo on the mornings he has to work a late night. Less crowded and without our son, no meltdowns.
I understand the ridiculousness of what I’m about to say, but I always stop for a Happy Meal on the way to the grocery store. We bring the box of chicken nuggets into the store and voila! Makes shopping a breeze. When the nuggets are gone – we’re outta there!
This makes my life so much easier because I usually have to go to the store after I pick E up from daycare – have you ever tried putting away groceries with a starving child throwing a fit in the middle of the kitchen? That’s way more torturous than the actual task of grocery shopping!
Oh my goodness!!! I love this. I took my little man to the store a few weeks ago and there was a whole toy car display…. Why?! He grabbed a bus and was happy until the cashier needed to ring it up. He threw a monster fit since apparently to him this cashier had forever stolen the stupid yellow bus. He’d ruin his life in that moment. So… I of course… Being the mean mom…. Told him he couldn’t have the bus at all. So he threw a package of Kleenex out of my purse (the only thing in arms reach). Throwing a travel pack of Kleenex doesn’t really make a point. But screeching like a baby raptor dinosaur… That packs a punch. I ignored it like a pro. But I am pretty sure that cashier thinks I’m the meanest person alive, and additionally will most likely never have kids. On a side note, by the time we got to the car… He had completely forgotten about his prize toy bus! Thanks for sharing your stories- I love them!!
HAHAHAHA – smart kids can be the toughest sometimes… Next time, maybe talk with them before going in the store and give them each a small shopping list of items that you need that they can help you find. If you give them a job, then maybe they will stay slightly more focused so you can get your shopping done before they zero in on the other fun stuff… Good luck!
Remember back when you had that “what should be in the mommy olympics” contest? This is exactly why I nominated grocery shopping with kids as a sport. And….did Mike go with you?? I spy a big, man foot in the pic of Harlow in the candy at checkout. Either she has no concept of personal space for strangers, or it was her daddy. I can’t decide which is easier…grocery shopping with the kids alone, or grocery shopping with my kids AND husband….if Mike was with you I think you need to try again without him. 😉
PS-Love that Harlow is sporting glasses the whole time…and Mazzy with the bandaid, excellent.
My Little Mister (3 in November) is a supermarket veteran. He is generally well behaved…if you can get him to sit in the trolley (cart) seat, but if I can’t make that happen? We may as well go home. He’s suddenly become a threenager and last week I cracked and opted for online grocery shopping – it was all too much! I wanted to celebrate my awesome decision for way longer than a normal person should.
I worry about when he’s too big for the seat, but too crazy to be let loose. Perhaps online groceries will be a good idea for like A YEAR or something haha.
I have a 4 year old and twin 2 year olds. Those %*@% car carts only seat 2 in the car. Shopping consists of A. Only shopping at the closest walking distance grocery with the kids in their stroller and bypassing the carts all together or B. Waiting until the weekend to shop, so Daddy can help. In the case of option B, I spend the entire car ride to the store praying that there are two car carts available. Otherwise they engage in sibling death match fight for the car, culminating in two smug children in the car cart and one sobbing hysterically while riding in a ‘boring’ cart seat.
I never ever said yes to the car cart. Not even once. After a thousand trips to various places that have them, my daughter still does not ask. Except at Home Depot, and he’s the sucker that said yes to the car cart, that one time. Now it’s every time. Now that we’ve started Kindergarten, I’m free to shop ALONE, and it is fabulous.
Hahaha. The other day I took my 3yo with me to pick up a couple things, including plain yogurt. She spotted the one with M&M mix-ins and “realllllllllly” wanted it. When I said no, she replied “Can I get it after you die?” Sure kid, why not….
Tell them if they are good they get a balloon. Then threaten continuously if they don’t behave NO BALLOON!!! Grocery store + 2 kids under 5 = F*%@!# sucks!!!
Laugh out loud, guffawing, snorting.
this is the best. luckily my son HATES the grocery store, so i get that mini- vacation all to myself 🙂
I try to avoid taking the kids into the grocery store. It’s exactly what you indicated. The junk snacks, the candy aisle, the candy at the register. Seriously! This would be why we have the issues we have in this country. Don’t tell me about school lunches, tell me about the grocery stores, LOL!
We try to avoid taking our daughter to the grocery store because of this!
Jeff Foxworthy has a bit about the grocery story, the cereal isle in particular. The video is about a minute and a half long, totally worth it!
Hey am I the only one that noticed that in the pic of the diet coke, the only name you can read is Mike. So it was like he was with you at the check out!
I’m not sure I have ever laughed harder at a blog post. Oh my gosh! We live in the ‘burbs and, yes, grocery shopping with my two boys is a weekly excursion. Some days are much harder than others with the incessant begging for stuff. Sometimes for stuff they’ve never even had before while exclaiming, “But it’s my favorite!” I suppose it’s like my weekly parent practice – through a minefield, as you put it!
Yeah we’re burbies (is that a thing) and Daddy does the main shop. When I have to take all three kids with me I try to get two in the cart if they have a double. Carts, incidentally, have also doubled as time out spots. Nothing like jamming a screaming four year old in one of them things and standing a foot away. My new secret trick is lists. Each big kid gets one with pictures or simple words on with the healthy items plus one treat they have to find and collect as we go round together. But if it ain’t on the list it don’t get in the cart. Successful on 75% of trips!
Stop n Shop offers Peapod pick up and I would be lost without it! I have never used Fresh Direct, but I imagine it is very much the same. You order your groceries online and schedule a date and time window when they will be available for you to pick them up. There is no charge for this service, but they do charge a fee for delivery if you would prefer that. I often have a running list that I add to throughout the week and pick up my groceries on the way home from work with both kids in the car on a Thursday or Friday. There is no temptation for anyone! I started doing this when my second was born and it has been a lifesaver!! I still run into the store every once in a while if I only need one or two things or if something is not available online, but even then it is only a few minutes. Taking children into a grocery store is torture and takes three times as long!! You should definitely try Peapod Pickup when you are out on the Island!! (BTW – I am not paid by Peapod, but maybe you could be;)
So lucky that my kids are only concerned with the free samples of fruit and cheese and bread at our grocery store. It gets better, trust me!
I keep rereading this multiple times a day. This is just so damn funny (and totally spot on)!
OMG!!! I love this story and Harlow wearing the sunglasses with the paci the whole time!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!
I took my three kids (4, 6, and 2) to the everything store today. Disaster!
The car ride involved listening to the Preschool Tunes CD, a present from Grandmama. (Old Macdonald and Twinkle, Twinkle)
My 6 year old, Joseph noticed the kiddy cars right away and zoomed over to get one because there was only two left. He and Allie, (4) squeezed into the car, and I balanced Brooke (2) on my hip as I pushed the cart.
Two minutes later, Allie was whining that Joseph was steering. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but Allie is the rebellious middle child. We have a video of the kids were Grandmama was paying attention to the other two, and Allie starting climbing a chair. She probably wanted to crash the car.
Unfortunalty, the book section had been fixed. Instead of having the two separate iles for children’s books and adult books, they put adult books on one side of the isle and the children’s books on the other. This made me have to add to the cart TWO BOOKS. Moby Dick, (for my book club) and Handy Manny’s Coloring Fun.
We got the broccoli, but now it was time for me to go look at artificial plants for my mom’s upcoming birthday. (Grandmama’s birthday) Guess what I had to pass now? THE TOY isle. Handy Manny playsets, Shopkins and their houses, and Dora toys could all been seen when I tried to pass by quickly. Allie pratically FLEW out of the kiddy car to inspect the Shopkins and Shopkin playsets.
Joseph inspected as he drove by in the kiddy car. Talking Handy Manny wasn’t ignored. Neither was the figurine set even though he has enough of those to turn his room into Handy Manny E-bay.
Brooke, who was on my hip was looking for Dora. She got a puzzle for being so well behaved. Allie only got three Shopkins, despite her wanting of six playsets.
We finally got a plant, and it was time to check out. Those check out lines, candy everywhere. Allie held a pacakge of M&M’s like it was her BFF.
Then we got the heck out of there!
I just joined the forum so there are so many things I don’t know yet, I hope to have the help of the boards, and I really want to get to know you all on the forum