Going Shopping With Kids: Part Two, My Strategies For Going Shopping With Kids


You may remember that I on Sunday I shared with you how I avoid going shopping with kids.   Now that you see how the amount of shopping that I need to do is greatly reduced from most Americans, I will now share with you some of my strategies for when I actually do have to shop.

When I shop locally, I call ahead and people bring the items out.  There are less than 5000 non-inmate people in my county and my family is 7 of those.  We stick out.  People know us.
The conversation goes something like this:
“Thank you for calling [insert local business name here].”
“Hi, [insert name of shopowner or worker who has probably known my husband since he was two].  This is Laura [my last name].  I need [a widget].  I have all the kids with me.  I’ll be by in about 15 minutes, but I don’t want to bring all the kids in with me.  They”ll destroy your store.  Is there any way you can bring that out for me?”
“Sure, Laura, I’ll look out for you.  Do you have the minivan today?”
“Yes, I do.”
“OK.  I’ll see you then.”
They watch out for me and bring the item out for me.  This works great for the hardware store, the auto parts store, the pharmacy, even the tractor dealer.  I give them a check.  This is a perfect system because I get the needed item and I don’t bring my kids in and they don’t get kidnapped.

I shop at Sam’s Club.  We are a Sam’s-Club-sized family.  I buy laundry and dishwasher detergents, oatmeal, baking supplies, etc., at Sam’s.  The main reason that I shop at Sam’s and not Costco is because Sam’s has a service called Click’n’Pull. Click’n’Pull lets me select my groceries online and they actually go down the aisles and shop for me.  All I have to do is pick up a cart and pay for it.  Wal-mart offers a similar service, but they do not even let me use it since my zip code is not close enough to their store.  Sam’s Club is usually a better value for us anyway.  Yes, the closest Sam’s Club is 90 miles away, but we usually are making a journey to Colorado Springs or Denver anyway.

I will drive farther if it means less in and outs.  In Colorado Springs, for example, there are maybe five Lowes.  I will drive an extra ten minutes if it means that I can go to one strip mall for all my stops, even if the one location is farther away.  The worse part of shopping with the kids is the in and out of car seats.  If I can go to more than one store in the same strip mall, it’s worth a few extra minutes drive.  And, yes, I am one of those tacky people who take the shopping cart from one store and bring it into the neighboring one.

I am used to people looking at me. From the “You got your hands full” and “I don’t know how you do it” and “Are they twins [or triplets]?” comments to all out stares, I am used to it by now.  People don’t phase me or slow me down any more.  I have never had anyone say an unkind word.  They are mostly just curious.

I have my very own shopping cart etiquette.   I need to find a cart upon arrival and I can’t stand when the cartboy is too efficient and I can’t find a cart at all.  I’ve been known to stalk outgoing shoppers and ask them for their cart.  I put all of my children in the cart for the trip from the car to the actual store.  I’m worried about them getting run over or kidnapped in the parking lot.  And ditto on the return trip.  I have the assistance people load my groceries into my car when we’re done if at all possible.  And if I do bring the cart out myself, I just leave it near where I’m parked.  I know I break all rules by not using the cart corral, but I’d rather you have a scratch on your car than one of my kids get kidnapped while I’m going on a hike to the cart corral.  Oh, and a lot of times, I’ll get a regular cart to go from the van to the store and then get someone to get me a cart with those kid holder things for actual in-store shopping.  I also have it down to an art form of how I arrange the children in the cart.  I try to avoid even having the children walk beside me in the store.  I’ll share more about shopping carts in an upcoming post.

I quit WIC.  We’re certainly still poor enough for WIC.  (WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children, a supplemental nutrition program for children up to the age of five.)  I used to be on WIC.  There were five of us on it.  The groceries were very helpful to us.  I am grateful.  However, in WIC, every participant receives three checks for miscellaneous groceries, so that meant 15 separate checks per month.  The checks are listed as “one dozen eggs, two gallons of milk, 1 jar of peanut butter”, etc.  I would do my marathon shopping and then have to separate the items.  I’d be in line with four children at the time, four children who had had it by then, and separate each WIC check either on the conveyor or into little shopping baskets.  Invariably the cashier I went to had just learned WIC and needed help with it.  It took forever.  It was not unusual for my WIC transactions to take over an hour to be rung up.  Yes, over an hour for maybe $100  worth of milk, dried beans and peanut butter.  Also, the WIC benefit was not worth as much to me as it was costing the taxpayers.  For example, when I bought a gallon of milk, WIC paid the store full price.  If I did need milk and had to pay for it, I’d go through the sales papers and get Wal-mart to price match, so I’d pay a little over half what the government would pay.  Baby formula was the worst.  I would buy Sam’s Club formula which is about a third of the price of Enfamil.  (Now I use organic formula, but that’s another story.)  When the government shut down in the fall and there was a hold on WIC checks, I just never went back.  Kevin said, “WIC is meant to be a little help.  We can’t have a baby every year and keep being on WIC.”  He’s right.  I haven’t gone back.  I am grateful for what I did receive through WIC.  Quitting WIC saves me so, so, SO much time.  It saves the taxpayers money.  And it does not cost me too much to live without those groceries.  I count my blessings that we are able to live fine without WIC.  I know many aren’t so fortunate.  I am grateful that we Americans have the WIC program which helps those who need those precious groceries.

I don’t bring much into the store.  I bring the baby a bottle maybe, but I change the babies’ diapers before we go in.  Nothing grosses me out more than the Wal-mart bathroom changing table, and besides, I need all the cart space for kids and merchandise.

I bribe my kids to be good.  I tell the children that if they’re good, they can go to the playground, eat a cookie, sit in a different spot in the minivan, drink chocolate milk, etc., when we’re done.  Remember, I have a road trip first and usually have an entire day of shopping.  On a “marathon day” of shopping and appointments, we’re usually out of the house 12-14 hours.

I try to avoid the public restroom in stores if it can be helped.  I would rather my kids go on the side of the road than in Wal-mart.

My husband sometimes goes to Dollar General on his way home from work.  I only do a marathon day of shopping about once per month if I can get away with it.  I couple it around doctor appointments and such.  As much as I plan, I usually end up needing something.  Our options are few and far between.  There is a Dollar General about three miles the other way from my husband’s job.  They’re open until ten.  Even though my husband leaves work at 9 p.m., he is able to stop there on his way home.  He picks me up little fill in things there, maybe once every other week.

I will soon share another post here about some of my shopping cart strategies.  As I said, I feel that children are safer riding in carts.  I have using shopping carts for five that are designed for one or two children down to a science.

This was in November 2013   at Wegman's in New Jersey.

This was in November 2013 at Wegman’s in New Jersey.

Posted in Also Known As Logistics and Management in a Large Family, Knowing What to Do to Feel a Little Bit Less Like the Woman in the Shoe by with no comments yet.

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