“I’d rather go grocery shopping after my husband is home and my kids are in bed than risk taking all of my children shopping with me!”: a familiar sentiment shared by mothers of even one child.
Navigating the aisles, hearing the complaints, whines and cries of your child while trying to not miss anything on your list, bargain shop, and use all the coupons you spent far too much time collecting and organizing is just a tad too much for moms to bear, or at least too much for her to want to bear in public.Yet, moms can’t always wait until 8pm to do their shopping. Sometimes you really need that gallon of milk or a few fresh bananas. So, off to the store you go, praying and instructing your children on your way, thankful that it will be a short excursion in and out of the store.
But, some moms don’t really have a choice to wait until the evening to shop because they are single parents, or their husband works strange hours, or some other prohibitive reason. Some moms simply prefer to shop during the day so as to keep their evenings available for other things.
I happen to fall into that latter camp. And always have.
In the first few years of motherhood, I almost always went grocery shopping with my husband (in part because we only had one vehicle), and we’d divide the shopping list and our twins into two different carts and meet up at the checkout lines. It worked like a charm. However, we’ve added more children to our home, a second vehicle, and a more demanding work schedule for him.
Our latest addition bring the total number of children to four.
The Logistics of Grocery Shopping with Four Kids
Four children at the grocery store provides some new logistical problems.First, my baby cannot sit up yet so the seat in the cart is not an option. Placing a car seat up on the built-in seat is considered unsafe and our current car seat doesn’t fit there anyway (otherwise I’d strongly consider doing it, as I have with my other children, even knowing that it’s “unsafe”). Even if I could click the car seat onto the seat, that would mean my two year old would have to go somewhere else. I’m anti kid-in-the-basket (or under it, or even on the side or front) because that’s about 100% more dangerous and aggravating than a baby strapped in a car seat sitting on top of the cart seat area. Trust me, we’ve tried it.
Basically, this means I’m left with two options for the newborn: 1) Put her car seat in the cart basket or sideways resting on top of it; or 2) Put her in a baby carrier and wear her on my chest.
The baby carrier is clearly the smartest option, but sometimes she’s sleeping and who wants to move and wake a sleeping baby? And babies don’t always love being in a carrier, especially when a brother may accidentally kick her as I push him in the shopping cart’s seat around the store, and as I squat and reach for things. But, that car seat takes up the vast majority of our H-E-B shopping cart’s volume, and I’m not necessarily a fan of piling groceries on top of my child. Even if the car seat rests on top of the basket, it’s a tight squeeze between it and open shopping cart seat containing my son. And then I have to slide groceries under her car seat like a Tetris genius.And that’s just the decision making process for two of my children. I have two more!
My twins are five years old at this point, and well past any shopping cart seat age/size requirements, so we vetoed that option long ago, leaving us with two independent wanderers every time we venture into a store.
Okay, that’s not completely true: there’s always the MEGA cart option. You know the carts I am referring to, the giant barges of cart meets mini-car. These huge contraptions allow for two (or more) children (aka my twins) to sit or stand on the rear add-on portion, while still offering the traditional shopping cart seat. But these behemoths are hard to steer, encourage my big kids to stand up and sit down repeatedly since they can’t be contained by mere straps at their age (and the straps have about a 30-50% chance of being broken or disgusting anyway), and take up tons of space but yet give me a smaller basket for my groceries.
No, those aren’t for me or my twins, despite their pleas to ride on one, because, hey, who wants to walk when you can ride? And they do seem to get as excited about riding in them like you would expect they would for a ride at the carnival. Which is really the problem: I want less crazy, hyped up children at the grocery store if I can manage, not two children playing and going on a grand adventure on a massive shopping cart I’m trying to not collide into people or end caps.
Really, they are too old to not have to walk. Considering they can walk 1-2 miles on a family hike just fine (as long as its not too hot), they can walk for 30 minutes around a grocery store without dying.
How I Handle Grocery Shopping with Kids Like a Pro
I’ve set certain expectations for my kids since the beginning when it came to grocery shopping, and it continues to serve us pretty well.
If they ask for something, I tell them no (about 90% of the time). They have to come with me to the next aisle when I do. If they want a free cookie from the bakery or H-E-B bucks at the checkout they have to behave well the whole time we are in the store (which means listening to me, and staying with me). They can’t hang onto the sides of the shopping cart or ride underneath its basket. If I do put them in the basket for some reason (like they just woke up from a nap in the car and are super groggy and forcing them to walk will result in epic tantrums and frustrations) then they have to sit the entire time: absolutely no standing.
And lately, to help our excursions (because it seems like a great feat of endurance to me sometimes), and even, gasp, make them a bit fun for our kids, I’ve let them hold my shopping list, even though they can’t read yet, as well as use a little shopping basket.
The shopping baskets can get a little tricky, as they are actually fairly large for a kindergartner to hold, especially if they put anything in it. Often the baskets end up being pushed along the floor, making a beautiful shushing sound as they push their mini cars around the floor. They are pretty oblivious to any other patrons in the store as they do so, though they seem pretty aware of them, and therefore me, the parent.
But, I let them do it, until I get fed up with their ignorance of anyone else in the store, and then I make them put them away. However, at my last trip to H-E-B, my girls discovered these adorable little little baskets at the end of the Beauty Department aisles. Sure, they’re supposed to be for makeup and nail polish, but, hey, they are perfect for my kids!
I let them help me pick up some Sprout® Organic Toddler Purees and Sprout® Organic Toddler snacks for my son. They’re a bit expensive, but I want to nourish my son with real, honest, pure ingredients, at least sometimes. He eats like a champ, but myself and my kids’ diets are often lacking in vegetables, so we’re trying these out thanks to a $2 off 5 Sprout® Baby/Toddler food products coupon! I like that they are non-GMO and come in BPA free packaging. They’re even the only baby/toddler food brand that doesn’t use acid preservatives like citric acid, ascorbic acid, or lemon juice concentrate which can all upset a baby’s system (which will be important when our newborn is ready for baby food). Giving something “fun” for my twins to do at the store has made grocery shopping less of a chore. For a while, every time I told my kids we were going to the grocery store, I would hear some grumbles about how they didn’t want to go. So, I often told them that I didn’t want to go either! Grocery shopping isn’t super fun – it takes times and then you have to fork over all your hard-earned money. But, I told them it’s a necessary part of life, because eating is essential to living. So, if they wanted more cereal, more milk, and other things to eat, then we needed to go to the store. And when you have to do things you don’t want to do, you can either have a bad attitude about it or a positive one.
I’ve always striven for a positive one.
I like to think that when the battle of mom with four kids versus the grocery store commences, that I will rise to the top victorious. No tantrums, no passing stink eyes, no complaining, no logistical issue will prevent me from getting in and getting what I need. In fact, I likely will enjoy the excuse to get out with my kids, as hectic and as crazy as it can sometimes become.
Tell me: Do you or the grocery store win when you go with your kids?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sprout® Organic Baby Foods. The opinions and text are all mine.