Disaster in aisle 3! What really happens when you’re grocery shopping with kids

Toddler in a trolley

I used to love going to the supermarket before I had children. Wandering down the aisles, fussing over the ripest pomegranate, humming along to the muzak. Now, with two children in tow, my approach is more like get in, get out, and pray there are no Kinder Surprises at the checkout.

Here’s how it usually plays out:

1. At first, it’s all fun and games

Aisle one is always kind of nice. Your toddler is actually sitting in the little kid-seat-trolley-thing, everyone’s in a good mood, you even manage to get through the first few items on your grocery list. You dare to think that maybe this is going to turn out okay.

2. Then the demands start

What? You want that tiny packet of $10 raspberries? For a brief moment, you might even consider the $10 raspberries, just so you can keep the good vibe going, but then you snap yourself out of it. It’s the middle of winter, who buys $10 raspberries? As soon as the first ‘no’ slips out of your mouth, things start to go downhill.

3. The whingeing kicks in

This is when you start pushing the trolley a little faster. You’re only in aisle two, but it’s like someone’s turned the hour glass over and you realise it’s only a matter of time before things turn bad. Suddenly the shopping list looks impossibly long, and you decide to wing it. The list goes back in the bag, and you begin flinging things into the trolley. Meanwhile, your toddler’s soft whimpers are starting to ramp up. 

4. You look for distractions

From what I’ve observed, most parents are usually relying on one of three distractions by the time they’ve reached the fourth aisle. There’s the phone, with Peppa Pig on high rotation. Or a hefty treat. Or for the more creative parents, an endless babble of incessant talking to your toddler to distract them from how boring the whole thing is. 

5. Talking treats, you’re now cursing all confectionary

Because as soon as you walk past all those shelves lined with lollies and chocolate, your toddler’s self-control fizzles and the poor thing just wants some snakes. I don’t blame them. But if you have other children with you, this part gets really messy. You can’t go over it, or under it, you just have to go through it and make peace with the gummy bears.

6. The checkout is always chaos

Finally, you pull up at the checkout. But it’s not over. Actually this is the hardest part. Because not only do you have to load everything on the conveyor belt, your toddler is going into a full-on meltdown – thanks to all the crazy toys and stuff that’s artfully arranged around the cash register. You grit your teeth. You smile at the checkout person. You do your best to get out of there alive.

And honestly, just take a quick look around next time you’re dying at the checkout. Because there’s always another parent giving you an understanding nod. They get it. 

How about you? What was your worst toddler grocery shop moment?

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