Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beat The Clock

Today after our play date, my friend and I decided to tag team and take 5 children (all under 3) to Sam’s Club to pick up a few things. And aside from me spilling my soda all over the floor, it went surprisingly well, but I got to thinking….

I. Hate. Grocery. Shopping.

Before children, it was an enjoyable experience. I would head to the store with my list in hand, leisurely strolling up and down every aisle, taking the time to comparison shop, happily filling my buggy with all the best deals.

Now, it is an excruciating experience. I typically wait until it is an absolute necessity (just put the last diaper on the Little One, have no milk, have no meat for dinner- you get the picture) in the hopes that The Captain will have a day off and be able to share the pain. Now, it is a race against time. I usually have about an hour and a half to two hours tops to get the kids loaded up, get to the store, do my shopping, get home, bring the groceries in the house and put away. I am a contestant on Beat The Clock, the grand prize is my sanity, and I never win. I don’t even come close.

The grocery shopping experience, when going it alone, goes something like this:

I strap the Little One in her carseat and she immediately starts screaming. (Lately, she hates the carseat- until we’re in the van and moving). “C’mon Big One, it’s time to go.”

The Big One emerges from her room wearing a backpack that‘s stuffed to the gills with God-knows-what, and carrying another backpack so full it can not be zipped. “Mom, can I take everything I need?”

“No, Big One, you may not take everything you need. You may bring one friend.” The Big One considers all of her dolls and stuffed animals “friends”.

She sighs, retreats to her room, only to return carrying four friends. “Mom can you carry this one?”, she asks, handing me the largest friend in the bunch. Remembering to pick my battles, I allow the four friends to slide.

“No Big One, if you bring it - you carry it.” The Little One is still screaming as I shuffle The Big One and all her friends out the door. The Big One gets in the van and heads immediately to the back to buckle in all her friends. I “encourage” her to hurry up.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Finally, now that we are sure none of the “friends” will be injured in the event of an accident, she climbs into her seat and buckles up. And we’re off. Halfway there I remember that I left the list on the counter. Damn it!

Before the Little One arrived, the Big One had her choice of buggies. Her particular favorite is one where the seating is shaped like a race car and has steering wheels. Unfortunately the designers didn’t think about multiple children of varying ages and it simply no longer works for our needs.

Before I even pull into my parking space, the Big One is begging for the car buggy, insisting that if we can’t have the car buggy she is going to walk. I tried to let her walk alongside the buggy once. A mistake I will never repeat. Now, the only buggy that works for our needs is the largest one of them all. I swear the thing is like 8 feet long. It has a bench seat attached to the front of a regular sized buggy and it is nearly impossible to steer, and is always parked in the middle of the car buggies. I struggle to maneuver it out of its tightly nestled parking space, while carrying a twelve pound infant in a 20 pound car seat (ok so maybe it doesn’t weigh that much- but it sure feels like it), and doing my best not to hit the Big One who feels the need to stand right behind me.

Finally the buggy is free, I strap the kids (and friends) in, push all the other buggies back into their parking spaces and head into the store praying the Little One will fall asleep, and that I will remember what was on the damn list.

The store we frequent has a “Cookie Club”, where all the kids get a free cookie. I curse the employee who gave that first unsolicited cookie to the Big One, because as soon as we head through the doors, she starts clamoring about getting a cookie with sprinkles. God help me if they only have chocolate chip!

Cookie in hand, I get about 5 minutes of uninterrupted shopping time and I race to collect as many items as I can while the Big One is otherwise occupied. Once the cookie is gone- all bets are off. I consciously steer my monstrous buggy down the center of the aisle amid the glares of the other patrons, to limit the Big One’s ability to add random things to my purchases.

Doing my best to ignore the requests from the Big One, I struggle to remember what is on my list, scanning the shelves for the buy one- get one deals, mercilessly tossing items into my buggy.

Halfway down the second aisle the Big One announces that she has to go to the bathroom. Great. To the bathroom we go, and of course the handicapped stall (the largest one) is occupied. It is difficult enough trying to get her and I into a regular sized stall- never mind with an infant in a car seat. She does her business, and we head back to the buggy.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock. I know I’m running out of time. Somewhere around the frozen food section, the Little One starts fussing. Uh Oh. I have about 15 minutes until she starts screaming. I grab the last few “must have” items and head to the check-out.

9 times out of 10 I pick the line that has someone who is disputing prices, asking for price checks or has 5 separate transactions. I pray that I have picked the “good” line. I start to load my groceries onto the belt, only to find items that I do not need. A can of this, a jar of that. Apparently I have misjudged the reach of The Big One.

Just about the time I am getting ready to swipe my card, the Little One starts screaming. Transaction completed, the bagger, feeling sorry for me or just wanting to get me out a little faster, grabs my buggy and says “Which way to your car ma’am?” Thankfully he loads the groceries while I load the kids (Little One still screaming) into the van. I get in and head home. I hit every red light on the way there, Little One still screaming- Big One yelling that she can’t hear her show. White knuckled, I finally pull into the drive way. Now the dilemma. It’s 80 degrees outside. I have a screaming infant, and a van full of food needing to be refrigerated and frozen. My solution? Put the three year old to work. I find the lightest items and have The Big One help carry those into the house. I bring in the screaming infant, set her inside and literally run back and forth bringing in the perishables.

I throw the perishables, still in the grocery bag into the fridge or the freezer, and then tend to my screaming infant.

The stuff in the van? The food in the bags? That’s just going to have to wait.

And that my friends, is why I. Hate. Grocery. Shopping.

Do you enjoy grocery shopping?  Share your best or worst shopping experience here!


  1. This one made me LOL. I have been there more times than I can count. I feel like I play the "lifetime" beat the clock game because in my line of work even though my kids are grown now I have other people's children in tow.

  2. Lots of aspects sound painfully familiar! Oldest HATED his carseat until he was about 10 months old. Middle Man has decided he is the helper guy, so he mus "help" you at the grocery store. However, for the most part I go grocery shopping now when the two oldest are in school. That just leaves me and Mini Man. Our grocery store also has a cookie club, and his little legs start kicking when we get close to the bakery department! However, it takes him so long to eat the cookie I'm almost done shopping, and then every other person in the store has to comment about how much he must have enjoyed his cookie! (I haven't remembered to bring wipes in with me...) Anyway, it does get better, and then you'll be finding yourself gazing almost longingly at those moms at the grocery store with the two young kids...

  3. I am lucky in that I live within 5-10 minutes of at least 5 different grocery stores. My personal favorite, Market Basket, just opened three in the general area in the past year (one of which opened this past Tuesday!). Woohoo! So, we either go all together after dinner and before the kids' bedtime or the Husband and I take turns going after the kids are in bed. I'm not sure what we'll do if we move into a house that is far away from a grocery store. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, I guess!