Shortly after moving to my new home state, I called my mom and mom-in-law, and asked them how they survived shopping with several young children. You see, I was in a desperate place. I was having mommy meltdown, in addition to kid meltdown.
Here are thing things I gleaned from those conversations when shopping with young children:
Shopping is no longer fun. Don't shop for fun. Shop to get the job done.
Don't browse the aisles.
Make a list, and stick to it.
Go to as few stores as possible.
Go quickly and carry lots of snacks.
My favorite: don't shop with kids.
My poor kids still endure long shopping trips. Just this week, all 4 of us made a LONG afternoon of it, hitting Goodwill, Sonic, Home (forgot my lists and coupons), Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Dominicks, Carters, and Meijer. We were gone for about 6 hours.
Yes, that is a prefect storm for crazy making. But, we did well, all things considered. My tools? Snacks, bribery (Toys!) and a promise of a treat when we got home. We're constantly working on shopping manners, so most of the time, the kids are very well behaved. It helps when we get compliments from shoppers and store employees. It lets me know I'm not a complete failure as a parent!
A long day is not my typical shopping trip. Usually we'll just hit one, maybe two stores, and one other errand (the library, bank, whatever). I usually try to leave most, if not all of the kids with Jude.
However, there are some trips that are a special trip for just me and one kid. I took Nathanael out, leaving the girls with Daddy, and it was actually an enjoyable time talking with him, and being able to pay attention to what he saw, and to answer his questions without interruptions, and without an older sibling constantly getting in his space (or vice versa). Elizabeth thinks shopping is boring, and doesn't want to go with me anymore (I guess Nathanael hasn't let her in on the secret that if you shop with just you and mom, you get a treat).
Once I realized that it was indeed an arduous task, and not just me being whiney, I was able to let go of the idea of liking shopping. I got comfortable with leaving some (or all!) of the kids with their dad. I used to feel guilty about that. I don't anymore. Totally easy to get
over that and enjoy being able to shop with some speed (and being able
to do a bit of browsing).
I guess that's just one more in a long list of expected changes as a result of parenthood. Shopping sucks. Except when it doesn't.