Obviously if you’ve been reading any of my little anecdotes, you’ve been able to figure out for yourself that I an in no way, shape, or form an expert on parenting. That said, I have picked up a few survival skills for certain everyday situations. These skills have been developed and honed to their sharpest by the mere fact that both of my children are four and under, adding a degree of difficulty that will challenge the strongest of spirits.
One of the most potentially stressful situations we as parents are faced with is the trip to the grocery store. Nothing tests your mental or physical endurance quite like two hours of children grabbing for things you don’t want them to have while slowly losing their minds due to the fact that you have imprisoned them upon the grocery cart seat, daring to refuse them their God-given right to roam the aisles like majestic lions upon the savannah.
A better comparison would actually be rabid bulls in a china shop.
How many of us have had to disavow a screaming child throwing themselves to the floor and having a fit over the refusal to buy the latest sugar saturated cereal bombs just because some genius at General Mills decided to put their favorite cartoon character on the box? How many of us have cowered under our fellow grocery-goers stares of judgment and disgust? Rest assured friends, we have all been there. To avoid ever having to go there again, here are a few helpful tips to avoid this excruciating public humiliation while turning your grocery trip into a pleasant and successful excursion:
Step 1) Pretty obvious, make sure you bring something to divert the child’s attention. Distraction is your oldest and best friend. You figured this out early in their lives; the very first time you had to sneak away the loose electrical chord they decided to teethe on. Sleight of hand isn’t just a magician’s most useful skill, and shiny things aren’t just for pets. Offended that I’m comparing children to pets? Not if you’re a parent. You know the truth. Go ahead, turn a laser pointer on and see if they don’t chase after it like a kitty on crack. It’s worked for me.
Step 2) Diaper Bag packed and ready to go. Most folks go with the standard; diapers, wipes, spare outfits (just in case of a #1 or #2 explosion; I always pray for #1). I like to add a few airplane bottles of liquor (for myself, not them). My personal preference is Captain Morgan’s. I love the taste and reminding myself that I’ve got a little Captain in me gives me the courage and confidence to push on.
Step 3) Make sure your coupons are in order, organizing them based on what they’re for while taking note of how many of each thing you have to buy for the coupon to actually be useful. Hell is going through your coupons to see what you can really get while a small wildebeest is voicing his/her displeasure on your lack of preparation for the whole world to see.
Okay, so we have distraction, diaper bag filled w/liquid courage, coupons organized and ready. This brings us to:
Step 4) Before you pack up the children and walk them out to the car:
- Take a breath…
- Think about what you’re actually doing…..
……..ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FRICKIN’ MIND?? You’re going to take what are essentially two (or more) wild animals to a grocery store? Why don’t you leave your garbage cans out on the curb with a sign saying “Free Eats for Raccoons”? Same thing!
Here’s an even better idea – go out to the car, place the jumper cable leads on something tender and turn the ignition! That would actually be less painful! Don’t you deal with enough crap and complaining at work?? You feel the need to add some more stress to your life during your off-hours??
No, here’s what you do. You look at your significant other, tell them that there’s no way in hell it’s happening, and that the two of you have to decide which is going shopping and which is staying home with the little urchins. I suggest paper-rock-scissors, lizard-Spock (no I am NOT going into the rules). Once that’s decided, the “winning” party will stay home and put in some God-awful children’s entertainment for the kiddoes to zone out on for the next few hours. Distraction is just as important at home as it is in public.
Step 5) – Discreetly applaud yourself on your craftiness for “losing” the game. By “losing” you’ve just won at least an hour-and-a-half of blessed, beautiful quiet. Why not make the most of it? Head to one of the big box groceries and lose yourself for a little while browsing at DVD’s or kick back with a coffee. If you’re really feeling froggy, I would also recommend saving the trip for later in the evening, about an hour-and-a-half before bedtime. That way when you get home to unload your purchase the little foragers are already in bed, still clueless as to how the magical pantry refills itself with all the goodies.
Step 6) Take those liquor bottles you packed out of the diaper bag, pour yourself and the love you left behind a drink (they earned it by staying home) and enjoy another hour of wonderful alone time. You’ve now successfully managed grocery shopping with small children. You’re a genius, and every genius deserves a toast to their brilliance.
For a clean-up in aisle 1, follow on instagram at fatherhood_in_the_trenches or twitter @jmwilson3055.