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29 Easy Steps for Grocery Shopping With Kids

29 Easy Steps for Grocery Shopping With Kids

You’re the mother of two or three small children and you need to make a quick run to the grocery store. This isn’t something you do on a whim. You start planning in the wee hours of morning before the kids are awake. Or maybe even the night before.

Step 1: Assemble outfits. You dig through the laundry basket that’s been sitting on your dresser for three days and find clothing, which basically matches. You also set aside any articles of clothing you come across that your children grew out of 6 months ago.

Step 2: Locate matching shoes & socks. You may or may not be successful on this one. Keep in mind that socks don’t technically have to match. Mismatch socks are a trend these days, and your kids are really cool. Your 1-year-old will be sitting in the cart the whole time so, whatever, they can go barefoot.

Step 3: Coffee & food. Your goal is to systematically file through every aisle of the grocery store without forgetting anything or having to retrace your steps. You’re going to need the focus of a Jedi Master for that, which means a lot of caffeine. As with any athletic undertaking, you’re also going to need carbs beforehand for ample energy. Cheerios are nice because they’ve got holes in the middle, so you’re less likely to choke as you hurriedly inhale them.

Step 4: Make drinks. I don’t know about your kids, but mine like warm milk first thing in the morning. Besides making them happy, this can also keep them occupied during Step 7. Also, warming the milk before Step 5 is a meltdown preventative; once the children see the milk they will want it immediately; they’ll cry if it’s out of reach rotating in the microwave.

Step 5: Get the kids out of bed. Maybe you wait for them to wake up on their own. Maybe you rouse them from sleep. Either way, this step should only be undertaken after you are both physically and mentally prepared. You might consider 10 minutes of yoga beforehand.

Step 6: Change diapers. Depending on the severity of their diaper status, you might be able to roll Step 6 into Step 7. However, if multiple poops are detected, it’s best to just change them all asap.

Step 7: Get them dressed. You’ve already laid out the clothes, so this should be easy interesting. Grasp the nearest or slowest child, hold them down, and force clothing onto their wriggling bodies. Simultaneously keep an eye on your other children to make sure they’re not destroying the house. Once the first child is done, grab the second. Repeat until all children are dressed.

Step 8: Feed them. Something non-messy is preferable. Like Cheerios. Anything involving cream cheese, butter, jelly, jam, or peanut butter should be avoided. (Note: The best way to get cream of wheat out of a child’s hair is to allow it to dry and then brush it out. Wiping will only spread it around.)

Step 9: Re-Dress them. Inevitably, someone will manage to walk out of their pants, spill milk on themselves, or have a blowout diaper. Maybe next time we should reverse Step 7 and 8. Oh well.

Step 10. Pack The diaper bag. Why didn’t you think of doing this before they woke up?! Thankfully, you’re going to a store that’s well stocked with disposable baby supplies, so even if you forget something, you’ll have quick access. You grab diapers, wipes, your wallet, and hand sanitizer. #NailedIt!

Step 11. Load kids into SUV. This includes your 2 year old’s collection of stuffed animals that she can’t sleep (or travel, apparently) without. Don’t bother arguing. Just buckle Elsa in.

Step 12: Change at least one diaper. Again. Of course.

Step 13: Start SUV. Oh yeah. Your keys are in the diaper bag in the back seat. Or maybe they’re on the kitchen counter. Or in the back yard in your child’s toy car.

Step 14: Drive. Most of the other drivers on the road are less mature than your preschooler. Just give them what they want to avoid an unpleasant temper tantrum. Chatter with your children to avert boredom. In the case of a meltdown, turn the music up really loud. I’m not sure whether it makes them happy or just makes screaming pointless, but either way, it usually works.

Step 15: Find parking. Hopefully, your grocery store is one of those cool ones that have special parking spots for parents and pregnant women. Bless them as you pull in. If not, plan to write them a scathing email during naptime.

Step 16: Unload your kids. Now it’s time to bless the previous-parking-spot-occupant who didn’t return their cart to the corral. Unload your least mobile child first. Then circle around, unbuckle, and restrain your 2 year old in the cart as well.

Step 17: First stop, baby aisle. You forgot snacks, so picking up some of those single serving packets of applesauce will keep them appeased. (Note: Cashiers worth their salt are used to scanning empty wrappers and boxes at check out. If they give you a weird look, hand them 20 coupons.)

Step 18: Keep calm & shop on. This is the hardest step of all. It involves not losing your cool when your toddler extracts 50 coupons you don’t need from the dispenser, distracting your 2 year old while you pass the candy isle, and not crying in public when ketchup gets everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Step 19: Stop at every sample booth. Your kids will love trying those miniature cocktail hot dogs, Greek yogurt, smoked salmon, and the deli’s freshly made guacamole. You will enjoy sampling the wine.

Step 20: Check out. As quick as lightening, unload your cart onto the registry counter. Tell your toddler to put the candy back 15 times. Turn Cosmopolitan backwards. The back cover is just as bad. Put Country Living in front of it. There! Now cave and give your toddler the candy.

Step 21: Hastily retreat. Make your way out to the parking lot. Once again, bless your store for offering Customer-With-Child parking. Brace your cart gently against the minivan next to yours and install the children in their car seats. This time, start with the most wild and end with the most obedient or least mobile.

Step 22: Load groceries into trunk. This should be done as quickly as possible before anyone loses their minds. Don’t forget to leave your cart docked on a nearby curb providing easy access for the next overwhelmed parent.

Step 23: Go home. Watch that speedometer and try not to peel out every time a red light turns green. It’s so easy to speed when there are screaming children in the back seat. Loud music.

Step 24: Release the children. Once you’re safely docked in the garage, unleash the littles. Go inside, turn on a movie, and hope that keeps them hypnotized while you unload the car.

Step 25: Put the groceries away. Ideally, the movie will also serve to keep the kids occupied so they’re not rummaging through bags for snacks while you’re trying to put things away. If not, get them a snack. Then try to finish what you were doing before the ice cream melts.

Step 26: Feed the children. You’re not done until you’re done. Hopefully, they ate enough free samples and packets of applesauce at the store that they’re not too hungry. Do something quick and easy. Like more Cheerios.

Step 27: Nap time. By now it’s probably early afternoon. Brush the crumbs off the kid’s clothes, wipe the applesauce out of their hair, floss the ketchup from between their toes, and stick them in bed with a drink.

Step 28: Retrieve elsa. She’s still in the car. Your 2 year old just remembered!

Step 29: Collapse on the couch, eat ice cream, & watch downton abbey reruns. You are a mighty warrior momma. You’ve earned this.

Looking for more laughts, Mom? Check out Chicken Legs and 2-Year-Old Smackdown

Jennifer is a wife and mother of three who's pounding out her first fantasy novel and recording a new album. She lives for the messy, exhausting thing called motherhood.

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