Two days ago I'm grocery shopping in Wal-Mart. After all, that's where America shops, right? Picture this. I'm in the frozen food isle. One other lady is in the isle with me about 20 feet away. And then, ripping through the store, easily drowning out the sounds of anything else was the screams of what sounded like a 2-year old. It was the common choruses of yells mixed with high pitched sustains and woven through with the personal attacks like, "I hate you mommy," and "Get me ooooouuuuuuttttttt!"
After one particularly long sustained scream I sort of winced and said to the women in the isle, "Somebody isn't happy. That sound isn't good for a mom to hear."
"That sound," she laughingly corrected, "isn't good for anybody."
Anyone with kids can remember those moments and if you still have small kids, you're still living those moments. You know, those moments when you want to just quietly slink away and leave your child screaming in the cart! [I'm from Indiana….it's a cart, not a buggy.] Hearing that sound reminded me of some of the old strategies I used to prevent the grocery store meltdown as best I could.
1. Plan your routine around the trip. Do NOT go grocery shopping if you're
running too close to a nap or a meal. And, remember: it will ALWAYS take you
longer than you think.
2. Have provisions for get them as you go. For example, be prepared for the
surprise spit-up. If you had to sit in your own vomit you'd cry too! Have snacks
ready for that surprise hunger spurt. Or better yet, grab a goodie off the shelf.
My kids came to know the "animal cracker isle" or the "vanilla wafer shelf".
Bring their favorite toy or doll that they can hold throughout. We all know a
friend makes any experience more tolerable.
3. Park near a cart return. By the end of the experience their patience will be
wearing thin so park where you can first put them back in their car seat (with
their animal crackers) and then load your groceries. This way you're not
leaving them "unprotected" in the car because the cart return is next to you.
4. Have an organized list. Don't waste time! I'm amazed watching people shop
from some handwritten list, forgetting things and then backtracking all over
the store. This is a killer. Look people, from the time you place your child in
that grocery cart you're time's ticking'! I created a Wal-Mart shopping list
Word document broken down by isle (which I still use). That way, as I create
my shopping list I know exactly which items I need from each isle - no
5. Be prepared to abort. Anything can happen, so hold your plans loosely. Despite
your best efforts and planning it can all go south. If it does, woe to the parent
who tries to tough it out. I say cut bait and head for the house. The other
shoppers will appreciate it, and the checkout people, and your own conscience,
and your child. Live to fight another day. Happy shopping!