being a mom

8 Tips For Surviving A Shopping Trip With Multiple Kids

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I’m not a fan of shopping, even on a good day, because it incorporates three of my least favorite things: spending money, standing in lines and not having reliable Internet access. But shopping with children is its own special brand of hell. This is especially true if you’re the parent of a brood of little extroverts like me, but I think this is pretty universal for all parents of large or largish families. But over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about wrangling my little army, and I’m going to share my bounty of knowledge with you. Because I’m a giver.

8. Electronics are your friend, who cares what the sanctimommies think?

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a huge believer in technology for kids. But I know plenty of folks still frown when they see three little heads bowing down to the Apple gods while I get my shop on. But ya know what? IDGAF, because those precious minutes I gain mean less minutes trying to break up a pint-sized fist fight in the frozen isle of Waldbaums. And that’s worth all the pearl clutching and annoyed glares in the world. Who the hell cares if I look lazy?

7. The seat on the cart is your friend

Since it’s illegal to Duct tape your kids to the cart, I play a little game I like to call “Cart Seat Hunger Games,” where the most well-behaved child gets the cart seat during the next shopping trip. Obviously this doesn’t work with my oldest, but she’s too busy obsessing over Justin Bieber on my iPhone to care (see #1). A bonus is that this keeps at least one child out of face punching range from the rest. WIN!

6. Bring ALL the snacks

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been too shy (and irrationally afraid of prosecution) to be one of those moms who just grabs some Teddy Grahams from the shelf and rips them open for my kids. So I basically bring a four course meal for every shopping excursion. At any given time I will have Cheez-its, turkey sammies and/or celery on me. I’m like Hulk Hogan, if instead of packing massive muscles and a mullet, he packed snacks.

5. Bring out the big guns (aka the “good” stroller)

bugaboo cameleon 3

An umbrella stroller is okay if you’re just running out to get milk or whatever, but for big trips (think the mall or an outlet) you need to bring your stroller A-game. Nothing is worse for you or your kid than bending over a tiny ass umbrella stroller while your kid bitches about the crappy metal bars digging into his lets for four hours. Not fun. If you’re super fancy, try a Bugaboo Cameleon, like the one above. For the rest of us plebes, there are great options at Target and Amazon too.

4. Avoid the toy aisle

This might seem counter-intuitive, because what’s more fun for a little kid than the toy aisle? But be warned, a grocery store toy aisle is like the Bermuda Triangle of sanity. Once you go in, you and your mental health never leave.

3. Timing is everything, and weekends are the worst

The absolute worst time to do anything shopping-related is on Saturday or Sunday. Obviously not everyone has the ability to get their errands done on a weekday afternoon, but if you can, this is idea. Because attempting to wrangle three kids at the mall on a Saturday afternoon is enough to make me rip my uterus out right then and there.

2. Don’t be a dick, your shopping isn’t the most important thing in the world

Is your kid hungry, sick or tired? Then unless it’s an emergency, then keep your ass home. And no, a choco-craving is NOT an emergency. I’m not saying that you need to be a slave to the whims of your spawn, but your needs aren’t more important than the needs of everyone else in the store. No one wants to hear your toddler scream for 45 minutes, and seriously, shoe shopping with a sick kid is cruel.

1. Ignore the Judgy Judys

Even the best parents, with the most well-behaved children, have off days, and that’s okay. But there is always going to be a few sanctimonious assholes who see a frazzled mom wrangling a brood of kids who think “wow, what terrible parenting.” To those fuckers, I say “suck it.” Ignore em’.


  1. Andrea

    June 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Tio #9, don’t bring the kids shopping.
    Seriously I used to go to GREAT lengths to avoid it. I did a lot of the grocery shopping at night after my husband go home or on weekends which is a pain in the ass, but I just could not even with the kids at the grocery store. They could have been freshly napped, freshly fed, and lose their entire shit the second we crossed the doors at Publix.

    And the mall was out of the question.

    • CCPat

      June 21, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Agreed! My four kids are less than 6 years apart. I’d rather have gotten a root canal than take them grocery shopping for 6 people. A loaf of bread and a gallon of milk was manageable but that was it. It is a stage of life that doesn’t last long so if it is at all possible go by yourself!!!!

  2. LadyClodia the Modest Rat

    June 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    The grocery stores here have supervised play areas for kids older than 3. My older son loves to go in those, so I only have to worry about keeping my toddler occupied, and as long as he gets his free cookie from the bakery he’s usually fine.
    I can’t manage them both at the mall by myself, though, especially since my toddler hasn’t cooperated with the stroller in at least a year. And I only very rarely attempt Target by myself with them. Generally I try to shop without them if I can.

    • Katherine Handcock

      June 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      OMG I am so totally jealous! My kids are both good shoppers, within reason – I try not to have to do more than 30-45 minutes with them – but a supervised play area would be a dream.

    • LadyClodia the Modest Rat

      June 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      This is the only grocery store chain that I know of that has play areas, and I don’t understand why more don’t have it.

    • Andrea

      June 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Probably due to the cost. The grocery stores profit margins are actually razor thin. Unless they charge for this service, it is probably very expensive.

  3. Katherine Handcock

    June 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Several stores here have these awesome multi-seater combination truck/shopping carts which are my favourite things in the world. They’re awful to turn, but you can actually seat two kids (not just toddlers) in them. So you end up with the option of both walking, one walking/one riding, or both riding. Between that and a snack or two, I can get through almost anything.

    • SunnyD847

      June 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      I brought a double stroller to the mall WAY past when my kids should have been done with it. I used it as a threat and a time-out chair and a place to put coats and stuff. If my kids acted up, they went in the stroller and they knew it.

    • Amanda

      June 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Our Safeway has those, but it’s two seats in the racecar part PLUS two regular seats facing you in the top part of the cart. It’s a bitch to push and/or turn, but you can buckle up to four children simultaneously in those monsters. It’s a real draw to do my grocery shopping at Safeway…

  4. Lackadaisical

    June 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Don’t worry, mums of toddlers who find shopping trips are a gruesome battle, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you resist the urge to throttle your kids then eventually one of them will reach that beautiful age where you can send them to the shops for the little stuff. “Sweetie, could you go to the shop for me, I’d go but it would mean dragging your younger siblings out. I’ll bribe you with a small packet of sweets if you eat it on the way home so that the younger ones don’t find out. Also mummy needs chocolate, bring home chocolate if you don’t want shouty, irritable mummy”. Also, if your schedule allows daytime shopping then eventually they go to school and you get to shop alone.

    • Clarissa

      June 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      I remember walking up to the gas station all the time as a kid. Whoever got milk, got to keep the change.

    • JJ

      June 21, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      I did the same thing as a kid and actually volunteered to go get milk from the corner store five minutes down the road often if it meant I could grab some penny candy with the little bit of change. If I ever have several children one of them likely the oldest will be the one to go do that same thing.

    • Andrea

      June 21, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      If you live in suburbia in the US, this isn’t really an option until they are old enough to drive, but it’s one of the reasons what I am actually looking forward to my oldest getting his license (despite the outrageous insurance!)

    • Lackadaisical

      June 22, 2014 at 3:32 am

      I have to wait a long time for a kid to be old enough to drive at 17. My in laws had the same problem when hubby was growing up as the lived in a small village with no shops or reliable public transport. That is quite unusual in the UK as most villages of that size that I have been to have a village shop, just as most suburbs have corner shops dotted throughout them. In the UK we are less inclined to drive and consider a drive that in the US is normal to be an epic journey.

    • BexleyS

      June 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      There’s a village near us that doesn’t have a shop and the houses cost a fortune! I always wonder who the hell would move to a village without a shop, it seems crazy.

    • guest

      June 23, 2014 at 9:41 am

      My parents could. not. wait. until we all had our licenses. My dad was constantly sending us up to the store to grab milk and donuts. Its cool the first time or two and then it is just irritating.

    • BexleyS

      June 22, 2014 at 3:13 am

      My mum once made the mistake of sending me to the shop for a Daily Mirror (on a Sunday). In my 7 year old mind I couldn’t work out that the Sunday Mirror was the same thing so I bought her a packet of Rolos instead… To be fair, they were probably as good of a read as the Sunday Mirror 😀

    • Lackadaisical

      June 22, 2014 at 3:42 am

      Sound decision, I’d rather have the rolos. My eldest likes to use the self service till as our local little shop is a tesco express and he doesn’t like talking to people he doesn’t know. This means we have to make sure he is absolutely certain of what he is getting as he won’t ask for help from staff. On the plus side he has a better eye for a bargain than me and always gets the best deals and sale items when I send him.

    • BexleyS

      June 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Wow, he’s well trained. I’ll got mine started young : )

  5. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    June 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    1. Be open to offers on one or all of them.

    …oh wait, did I say that aloud?

  6. Marie

    June 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    They should seriously have a drive through window at the grocery store with a limited menu of staples. I remember driving through my town in the pouring rain with a wailing baby and toddler wondering why on earth there were a dozen places I could get coffee, donuts or burgers without leaving my car but if I needed a gallon of milk a loaf of bread and a pack of diapers I needed to haul everyone out of the car and into the store. Heck, most banks have drive though options now! Why is it so much easier to get junk food than groceries?

    • AlexMMR

      June 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Shop online, receive a text when your order is bagged, drive thru with someone to put the groceries in your trunk. Boom! Million dollar idea right there!

      There actually is a convenience store with a drive through in a neighboring city. I’ve cured a few choco-cravings (those absolutely ARE emergencies, thank you very much) at that store.

    • Andrea

      June 21, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Publix was testing this idea in selected market, I don’t know what happened to it. My guess is that they would have to charge a premium though because they have to have extra people on hand to do the actual shopping for you. Maybe it wasn’t economically sound.
      But I think I know A LOT of moms (and other people..i.e. elderly folks, disabled people, etc) that would happily pay extra not to have to haul kids into the store. I know I would have.

    • Lackadaisical

      June 22, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Here in the UK you can shop online at the supermarket and they will deliver to your house for a small charge (although you may save money by not making any mad impulse buys). I assume you can get this service in the US as you are usually better for deliveries and services than us. It doesn’t help with things you need quickly though.

    • SamDuhigiyn321

      June 23, 2014 at 7:44 am

      as Thelma
      explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
      on the internet . more info here R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

    • tSubh Dearg

      June 23, 2014 at 8:49 am

      This is available at most of the Irish supermarkets too. Very handy and the one I use usually gives you a voucher through their emailed newsletter for €20 off your shop when you spend €80 or €100 (it varies) online, which generally covers the cost of delivery and a little more.
      Once we have a new freezer I will be doing that more often as I’ll have somewhere I can store the stuff I buy and hopefully we’ll get our food budget in line again!

    • kelly

      June 23, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Stop and shop has peapod at select stores where you order online and either have groceries delivered for a fee or pick up at a window for free. They load your car-you don’t even have to get out. FOR FREE.

    • guest

      June 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

      They do have this some places. I only know because I saw it on a TLC show and the woman drove up, told them woman what she wanted, she runs in and grabs it and brings it to your window. I remember being like my gawd….such a good idea…especially in the winter here I don’t want to run in for something simple!

  7. Babes In Style

    June 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    You can purchase all your groceries online now and have them delivered for free if you spend over $100 – so why not. If shopping is that bad with kids – shop online

  8. Pingback: Winter Grocery Shopping With Toddlers Is The Worst

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