|oh yeah. we're ready to take this public.|
Baby carrier. Don't leave home without one.
When you park. Go for the spot next to the shopping cart return. I know, you're thinking you should try to park in the spot closest to the door, but you'd be wrong. There are a multitude of reasons for this strategic location. You'll likely be containing some of your children within the shopping cart, and it's real handy to unbuckle them from their car seat (clearly rear facing as a long as possible and five point harness until they are very, very old, RIGHT?!) and immediately strap them into the cart. This location also works just as well from the back end, when I re-strap the kids into their car seats, load the groceries, and then return the cart. This prevents the whole "I'm not really abandoning my children in the car please don't call the cops on me" dash across the parking lot while you return your cart. Though depending on your day, getting arrested might sound pretty good....just think: three squares and some peace and quiet.....
Let's talk about cart choice. When I had only one, mild-mannered, child, I admit it; I looked down on those mothers who used those stupid carts with the cars attached to the front. I'm not sure why I felt that way, probably too much time on my hands, but after Dominic came along my ridiculous, self-imposed, standards were lowered. I'll push that gigantic, stupid, unwieldy cart all day if it buys me some semi-happy children. Don't worry though. I refuse to pay a dollar for the carts that play movies. I haven't sunk THAT low.......yet...
Hold or be held. That's the rules, as Gianna would say. Younger, walking children may choose to hold my hand or the cart, or they get held. I've modified the rule for Gianna, who is older now and can understand "Stay close or be held." My kids know...run away and I'll strap you to my body. I ain't playin.
Look to the cookie. Set aside all preconceived, noble, ideas about what children should and should not eat, and get the free cookie. If your grocery store doesn't give free cookies to kids, you should probably go to a different grocery store. It's serious business. I've spent a lot of time at Trader Joe's, wandering the aisles looking for that stuffed frog they hide for kids so that they can get their little piece of organic candy. Desperate times and all that.
Be entertaining by being stupid. Making faces while pushing the cart, talking to grocery items, pretending to be surprised that you have children with you, these are all games that kids think are hilarious. The more idiotic, the funnier you will be to them. Everyone else in the store will avoid you, but this can only help in the end.
Enlist their "assistance." Sending them down the aisle to get 2 cans of tomatoes or asking them to throw the toilet paper into the cart helps keep everyone busy and feel like a contributing member of the family, developing their inner sense of self-worth. Or whatever. You know what I'm saying.
Bringing it all home. I like to leave my children in the climate-controlled vehicle while I bring in my groceries and dump them inside the front door. They are still strapped in and thus cannot wreak havoc on anything. Your ability to do this will depend on your dwelling situation....an ample, attached garage means you're golden. A high rise apartment building means you'll have to get creative. Good luck, soldier.
The Secret Weapon. The mission is descending into chaos. Your troops are going AWOL and you're about to declare yourself mentally incompetent to stand trial (what?) In response to the side-long glances you are receiving, announce loudly, and cheerfully (if you don't have any cheer left, just fake it. No one will know) "Don't you just hate it when they act their age?????" and then get.out.