Grocery shopping. It has to be done. But it’s so annoying. It never happens quickly. I often leave tired and stressed. The kids fall asleep on the way home, satisfied with exhausting all of their energy at the expense of one FM (Frazzled Momma), while I am left thinking how dangerous is it really for me to take a nap in my driveway with the sleeping kiddos?
The one grocery story blessing I have is that my lovely little sister happens to work at my favorite Publix. When I am going shopping, I give her a heads up, make sure she isn’t working the express lane. At least I can be assured I will have a fast, competent cashier, and that my kids will be distracted by Aunt Sissy; who they adore - at least partially because she looks to be about 14 (she’s 26).
I have some tips for how to survive, er, succeed at the grocery store with Tater Tots.
1. Leave them at home with Hubby or some other responsible party (I had to put it in there).
2. Shop on the slow days, at the slow times, if possible. You will never catch me at the grocery store on the weekend, or after-work hours. No. Way! I go on a Thursday mid-morning. There is a minimal amount of people to attempt to talk to be about how cute my kids are, give me advice about parenting, or wonder why I am having a third baby when I already have a boy and a girl who keep my hands full. Additionally, I coupon; not extreme style, but I do. And because the sale week just started when I arrive on Thursday morning; I don’t have to worry about them being out of anything.
If you work away from the home, super early on Sunday mornings I hear is slow.
3. Assign seats on the way. Peanut and Muffin though being 20 months apart are almost the same size. Sitting in the seat of the cart is a coveted position. We take turns, for the most part. I usually pray I will be able to find an operable racecar cart with two seats and two steering wheels. But, if we have to use the standard cart; let the tears of who has to sit in the basket happen in the car with only you and your tension headache to listen.
4. Run down the rules, consequence, and reward as you walk into the store. “There will be no whining, screaming, musical seats, throwing, snatching, hitting, hair pulling, biting, punching or licking. (Peanut, kitties are not allowed in the grocery store)* If there is, we will leave and will have to come back to the store during Papi playtime. If you are good, movie tonight.” (when Hubby gets home from work). The kids always say ok. pfft.
*My daughter likes to act like a cat.*
5. Make a list and bring it with you. Put a sticky note on your steering wheel right before you start getting the kids ready that says, “Do you have your list?” When you organize your list, put the critical items at the top, rather than by organization of the store. Why, because if you don’t get through the whole list at least the baby won’t be diapered in a dish towel tonight and you won’t be eating leftover Ramen noodles for dinner.
6. Dress tater tots appropriately. I live in Florida. It’s hot and muggy. But the grocery store is cold. I put my kids in light cotton pants with no buttons to say are pushing on their tummy. They have to wear sneakers; no slip on that will fall off and I constantly have to pick up. They wear t-shirts, and I bring them each a sweater so I don’t have to deal with Peanut complaining that I am hurting her by forcing her to be in the cold meat aisle too long. I put Peanut’s butt-length hair in a bun so it is less likely to be pulled by Muffin. Likewise, I dress myself comfortable and appropriate.
7. Upon entering, make a beeline for the bakery. Publix, and most other grocers give the kids a free cookie; get over there, make the kids say please and thank you, and then try to tackle as much of the critical components of your list as possible while their mouths are full of cookie goodness. Do not get a cookie for yourself. You have a job to do, Momma.
8. Put the cold items under the cart. Cold makes kids cranky! You have more time before major complaining starts, if the kid in the basket (or Momma’s grocery helper ;-)) is not surrounded by things that make them shiver. If you can swing it, by one or two of the bags that keep your groceries cold and do the critical cold items first. They will last fine. Trust me.
9. If a miracle happens, and you have accomplished most or all of your critical items without rule breaking, hit up the deli and get some meat and cheese samples for them to eat. Same result as the cookie. I don’t get food samples from the ladies cooking around the store. Why? I don’t know if my kids will like it, they might want more, and I already gave them a cookie; that food is often high in sodium or unhealthy. I also don’t bring snacks. Kids feel like the food at the store is more special than after you bring it home.
10. If they break your rules, leave the store. It sucks, but in the long run, it results in better behaved kids. My kids covet time with Papi (my Hubby) when he gets home from work. He takes them to Target for a treat, or to the big park, or outside to clean up palm fronds. You tell your kids they have to come back to the store with you during a time they enjoy, and they will start to shape up.
What are your tips for the grocery store?