The 5 stages of supermarket with a toddler (the Kübler-Ross model)

I love toddlers. Toddlers are cute and funny and people stop to admire mine on a regular basis, which, for some inexplicable reason makes me feel like I am WINNING AT LIFE. I have so much fun with Baby N, who is 21 months now. He is a constant source of amusement. His latest trick is this: you say: “Baby N, what do you get when you cross a cat with a pig?”. And he replies “meow” and then he snorts. I cannot get enough of this trick. His mispronunciation of just about everything is delightful (until he’s 7 and needs intense speech therapy). Like all my toddlers have been, he is with me 24/7 and I really do love it.

Except when I am attempting to get anything done. Unless I am trying to watch In The Night Garden, kicking a soccer ball around the house, upturning sippy cups, ditching food across the room, or sitting in a Fisher Price car, then Baby N is not only NOT interested in what I am doing, he is taking active steps to prevent it. 

Nowhere is this more obvious than the supermarket. Ah, the Supermarket. Feared by all parents with toddlers in tow. Based on 11 years of personal experience, across 4 personal toddlers, there are 5 stages of doing the supermarket shopping with a toddler.

Stage One: Denial

I don’t know about you, but as I am driving to the supermarket I am convinced that it won’t be that bad. Baby N will be fine. He’s grown up a bit since the last time and has been a lot more amenable to recent errands. I have my shopping list, so I can be super efficient. My bag is well equipped with water and sultanas. I can get him a Chobani yoghurt if he finishes the sultanas. I will chat to him the whole time and keep him distracted. It will be fine. No, more than fine. I love the supermarket. 

Stage Two: Anger

I am not sure who is angrier. Me, because Baby N won’t sit in the trolley, or Baby N, because I am trying to shoehorn him into a trolley that is clearly not meant for toddlers of his stature. Or the guy who is trying to move his trolley along but can’t because Baby N is dawdling sweetly, but somewhat inconventiently in the middle of the aisle so that no-one can get past. Either way, there’s some anger brewing. I am trying to move on to the next aisle and Baby N is not moving at all. “Why is this happening to me?” I question. I think the guy stuck behind Baby N is wondering the same thing.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I offer Baby N a yoghurt in exchange for sitting in the trolley. It works like a dream. For about 5 minutes. Even though he eats yoghurt tubes beautifully at all other times, in the trolley he squirts it out everywhere…..over him, over me, over the floor, over the trolley. I abandon my aisle ordered list and hot-foot it to the baby aisle to get some wipes.  Baby N smiles beautifically like a Huggies baby.  And then turns around and starts reaching for the contents of the trolley and hurling it down the aisle. I give him sultanas and promise G-d that if I can just finish this supermarket shop with even half the things I need, and half my sanity intact, I will never ask for anything again.

Stage 4: Depression

We are at the check out. I have most of the things I need, but have just realised I forgot the nappies. I need the nappies. But I can’t leave Baby N in the trolley at the checkout. I don’t want to take him out to go and get the nappies because then I will never get him back in and then I won’t be able to push the trolley. This is depressing. Forget it. I will have to come back tomorrow for nappies…..

And then I look up and Baby N is sprinkling his sultanas all over the floor, followed by the box. I bend down to try and clean up but the cashier has finished and is waiting to be paid. The woman behind me, who has a small-ish baby who is starting to grizzle, is looking at me with barely-concealed horror. Must be her first child.  I leave the sultanas and start to pay. I give her a gift voucher. She enters a whole lot of numbers and codes and then tells me she needs to do it again because the voucher has been used already. Baby N is squawking his yoghurt smeared face off for his sultanas. Small, perfect baby behind us is grizzling more. Perfect mother behind me is shooting more machetes than daggers at me. I am never going to the Supermarket again. No, I am never leaving the HOUSE again. I want to get off the world.

Stage 5: Acceptance.

There are sultanas everywhere. I can’t pick them all up. My receipt is printed, my Woolworths collectable dominoes are in hand. The woman behind me is truly fed up because I went on to pay with three gift vouchers (yes, Working Boy, I’m looking at you).

“I’m sorry, I say to the cashier, there are sultanas on the floor”. And I leave. 

Except I don’t because as I walk off I count my dominoes and even though my receipt says I have earned 18. And even though I TOLD her I have 4 kids, somehow she has given me 12 dominoes. She grabbed handfuls of them, like she was being very generous. But it was all an act, and I only have 12 dominoes.   By now I have accepted that shopping with a toddler is an exercise in utter mortification. In fact, I am embracing it. So I march back up to my cashier who is finally serving the non-yoghurt smeared woman behind me and I say “Excuse me. But you only gave me 12 dominoes and I was supposed to get 18”.

So I got my extra 6 dominoes. Sure I lost my dignity but you know….you can’t win them all. And quite frankly,  when it comes toddlers and supermarkets, you feel lucky to escape at all. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

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What to buy the husband who has everything he wants and wants nothing.

Children are like ants. I once read this and no truer word has ever been spoken. They pick things up in one place and drop them down in another location. And they do this all day long. What ants, like children, do NOT do is pick things up from the place they left them and return them to the place they belong. No amount of storage shopping can solve this dilemma. And you all know I have tried.

There are 4 ants in this house and only one Queen (cleaner) Ant. I am fighting a losing battle here. 

Right now (2.43pm), I am sitting here on my throne. Afternoon tea has been prepared, the dishwasher has been unloaded and re-loaded, the washing machine is washing the dirty washing, I have folded and sorted the clean washing, dinner has been cooked, Baby (a)N(t) will need to be woken in 10 minutes to go and fetch the other ants from school. There is a random assortment of toys, books, socks, shoes and pieces of homework strewn across the communal living areas of our home. And normally I would spend these final 15 minutes repatriating the assortment. But if I do that now, I will NEVER write again. And the shopping stratosphere will be out of balance. So even though I am going suffer extreme embarrassment in 1.5 hours when the guitar teacher comes over, and even further mortification in 2 hours when the piano teacher arrives* (the guitar teacher is an aging hippy, whereas the piano teacher is an extremely composed professional), I am taking one for the team.

2015 is proving to be hectic one for Shopping Girl, so far. It started with a bang – Working Boy turned 40 and I threw him a party with all of his friends to celebrate – and it hasn’t really stopped. 

Working Boy is not great with presents. That is, he really does not want any. Really. He does not like stuff. He is (unbearably) practical. 

It was tricky. I knew that WB did not want me spending his hard earned money on him. He wanted me to spend thought and time, rather. Which left me in a quandary because his birthday fell on the 2nd day back of Term One. It is hard to find time when you have 4 children with you 24/7 for seven weeks. In fact that scenario has rather the same destructive effect on thought process as well. 

So this is what I did. The day the children went back to school, I headed straight to Westfield. I breathed in that shopping mall air and felt the school holiday weight lifting from my shoulders. Some people need to sit alone on a tall mountain / deserted beach / cave to think clearly. Some people need to go on a yoga retreat. I also need to retreat. To Westfield Bondi Junction. 

I went to David Jones and bought Working Boy a pile of shirts I thought he would like. This doesn’t sound all that romantic but it’s actually quite thoughtful . 

Working Boy tends to wear his clothes until they are falling apart. He has come home in hospital scrubs (he is not a surgeon) on the odd occasion because he wears things literally until they fall apart, and one time the time they chose to fall apart was while he was at work. The last time we bought him clothes, Baby N was a foetus. And this is Baby N now:



(Gratuitous baby photo)

You can see Working Boy and I have slightly different philosophies when it comes to clothes shopping. Anyway his shirts were starting to look blah, and he had a very hectic working summer with little time for eating and sleeping let alone shopping, so I decided to bring the shop to him. I bought him about 15 shirts that I thought he would like (from David Jones, where I won’t have hassles with returns), I borrowed a clothing rack, and I sent up a little David Jones in the living room, with me playing the part of personal shopper. He loved it. Partly because I had thought about him, and partly because he didn’t need to go shopping anymore. 

Then for another thoughtful touch, I bought him these fabric photo stickers and applied them to his office wall. 





With a ruler and spirit level app and everything! Actually in all honestly I was ordering name labels for the kids (had I had time, I could have done an awesome back to school special…..maybe next year. Working Boy is not getting a big 41st party) and the website, tinyme.com.au, was advertising a special on their photo stickers. It’s easy as anything – their website logs into your instagram, and you just pick your pics. Yeah, Working Boy loved that too. And the kids were pleased with their name labels. 

Finally we decided we would choose an Aquabumps print together to mark the occasion. We haven’t got around to that yet. As mentioned, Working Boy is not great with non-urgent shopping and it’s hard to urgently need artwork for your walls. Believe me I have tried, but there is no “pants split at work” equivalent to photos on the walls. We’ll get there eventually.

Despite the fact that it was HIS birthday, WB composed and PERFORMED (in front of gathered friends and family) a song for me. It’s really good. Not just because it’s about me. It is actually good. That is the ultimate cost-free present. And if that’s what I get for his 40th, I can’t WAIT till mine!

*okay so I started writing on Tuesday but it took me another 3 days to finish.  Baby N woke so I neither wrote NOR tidied. The ultimate injustice.