I Just Needed a Few Things…

I recently made a quick stop at the grocery store with my 1-year-old granddaughter.

Wait, I just lied. My bad. It was not a quick stop, although that was the plan. I had forgotten how much thought and/or planning picking up “just a few items” requires.

First, there’s the decision of whether to take her into the store in her car seat (she’s still in the kind that has the handle) or do I unstrap her and carry her in?

I decided to unstrap her for two reasons: one, the car beside me was parked awfully close and two, because her car seat with her in it is so darned heavy.

I had somewhat prepared by bringing along a cart protector and if you’re unfamiliar with these, they are a wonderful thing (and would make an excellent gift for a baby shower).

It’s basically a large piece of fabric that fits over the cart seat and has leg holes. This one also has a built-in strap to secure the child. The purpose of the contraption is to cover the dirty cart so the child doesn’t touch/suck on a germy handle, etc.

I was a germaphobe before the COVID pandemic, so this was one of the first things I purchased for my daughter/granddaughter and I was happy to put it into use.

We entered the store and I grabbed a cart, placed the protector on it, secured her into the seat and began our shopping experience. She seemed to enjoy herself on what may have been her first foray into a food store.

I’ve noticed that many parents of little ones today don’t make a habit of taking their kids grocery shopping, with the popularity of grocery pick-up and delivery services. We didn’t have the luxury of online shopping when I was raising my daughter. I schlepped my kid everywhere!

Anyhow, we navigated our way down the aisles, picking up this and that. The little one was very alert and in awe of the items on the shelf and the people in the store and I barely heard a peep out of her until we reached the baby aisle.

There, she appeared to suddenly recognize something—those pouch packets of food. Let me stop here for a moment to say those things are either the best invention or the worst invention in child feeding and I haven’t decided yet which it is, but that’s for another column.

She wanted a pouch. Bad.

It was nearly lunchtime and she was hungry. I guess that whole, “never shop for food when you are hungry” idea is legit.

I picked up a pouch and put it in the cart. She fussed a bit but was fascinated by the fact that it was now in the cart behind her.

I knew then we needed to focus on our mission to get out of the store ASAP and we quickly finished up and hit the checkout.

Till we returned to the car, more time had passed than I realized and I made more than one rookie mistake. Here are some tips to help you navigate the grocery store with kiddos:

  1. Park near the cart return. It doesn’t matter how old the children are, if you park near the cart return it will make the trip a whole lot easier.
  2. Carry a purse, tote or diaper bag. If you typically travel light and only carry a wallet and phone, you may want to rethink that. It is so easy to lay the wallet/phone down in the cart and forget about it. It’s too easy for the child to pick it up and drop it or it could fall thru the cart. Putting the wallet/phone into a large bag adds bulk to your trip, but is easier to keep track of and may save you aggravation in the long run.
  3. Use the belt. Grocery carts have a seat and seatbelt. Use them if the children are of appropriate age (if they can sit on their own and if they are under 5).
  4. Keep your hand on the cart. Even though the child is buckled in and you may need to reach for something on the shelf, always keep one hand on the cart directly in front of the child. Kids move fast.
  5. Be patient. Remember this trip will take longer than normal. Going anywhere with kids takes twice as long as it would alone. The more kids you have with you, the longer it’s bound to take.
  6. Now’s not the time to spoil them. We’ve all seen or experienced kids who grab at everything and demand a special treat or two. Don’t set the expectation that a child will always get a treat. At some point, that may be OK, but not until they are used to not getting a treat. Good behavior doesn’t always need to be rewarded.
  7. They may need a snack. Either bring one from home or realize you may need to buy one.
  8. Be mindful of the bags. Yes, you’re ambling through the store much longer than you would be if shopping alone and you’ll probably see things you forgot you needed, but now’s not the time to pick up extras. Remember, you’ve got a kid (or two or three) that you’ll have to load up and carry into the house along with the bags. Unless your little ones are old enough to carry bags for you, probably best to stick with the necessities.
  9. Enjoy the teaching moment and the time with the grands!

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