How to go Grocery Shopping with Children, in 22 Simple Steps!

Have you ever wondered how families with multiple children get their grocery shopping done?  Well I am here to walk you through it – in 22 simple steps!

Step One: Plan ahead!  Plan out your family’s meals and snacks for the week, and create a detailed grocery list.

Step Two: Ask your children if any of them need to use the restroom before you leave the house, to which they respond with a strong, confident, “No!”*

Step Three: Load the kids in the car, along with a packed diaper bag, grocery list, reusable shopping bags, cart cover for the baby, ice waters for everyone, and bribing tactics ready.

Step Four: Get halfway to the store when your kids start yelling from the back seat, “I have to go potty!!! It’s an EMERGENCY!”*

Step Five: Get all of the kids out of the car as fast as you can to get into the store and try to avoid a potty accident.

Step Six: Phew, you reached the restroom on time! Tell the kids they can go in together and you will wait for them with the baby and the cart, right outside the door.

Step Seven: The kids panic because it’s an automatic flush toilet (their biggest fear, apparently) and refuse to go to the bathroom unless you are in there with them.

Step Eight: Try to fit all of you, including the cart with the baby in it, into a tiny restroom.

Step Nine: One child accidentally closes the heavy metal door on the other child’s finger. This results in blood curdling screams and tears. Other shoppers are likely wondering what you are doing to your children in there, and if they should call CPS.

Step Ten: You finally make it out of the restroom (after the heavy door closes on the shopping cart with the baby multiple times while you are trying to shimmy your way out).

Step Eleven: You see multiple sets of eyes on you now, and you give a sheepish wave.

Step Twelve: It’s time to pick a starting isle and get to shopping, except that a bizarre (yet common) phenomenon occurs.  Your children – the ones who ran around just fine all morning – suddenly cannot walk!  That’s right, their legs have simply stopped working.  Medical professionals have yet to come up with a name for this condition.  It tends to occur suddenly in children under the age of 7 when they do not want to do something.  So your children are sitting on the floor of the grocery store, whining about their legs and insisting that you carry them.

Step Thirteen: Once your children are satisfied with how many pairs of judgmental eyes they have attracted, a miracle happens.  They can walk again!  It’s such a mysterious condition, really.

Step Fourteen: Now that they can walk, your children take off abruptly.  They start running down different isles, cutting off other customers and bumping into their carts. You mutter apologies and try to get the attention of your children without yelling loudly in public, but they don’t seem to hear you.

Step Fifteen: You finally gather your children, reprimanding their behavior.  You tell them they need to “STAY BY MAMA’S CART.” Which – fun fact – in kid language apparently translates to “Please repeatedly walk directly in front of my cart so that the wheels run over your feet and you yell and cry because I ‘ran you over’.”

Step Sixteen: The baby starts crying so you make silly faces and voices with her and do whatever you can to entertain her, while simultaneously trying to look at your list, tell your kids they have to put back all the junk food they keep dropping into your cart, and avoid running over their feet again.

Step Seventeen: You smell something coming from the baby… shoot! You left the diaper bag in the car.  Oh well.  Sorry again, fellow customers.  (Also: you would think that coming around lunch time would mean that the store would be less crowded, but you would be wrong.  There would be approximately 3847987324 other customers witnessing your grocery trip circus act.)

Step Eighteen: Baby is becoming increasingly irritable and is a ticking time bomb.  You quickly try to grab whatever you can as you are racing the clock!

Step Nineteen: Look down into your cart and realize that about 80% of what is in there was not on your detailed grocery list.  Look at your list and realize that you have only gotten about one third of the things on it so far.

Step Twenty: The big kids are fighting now and the baby has reached full on crying mode.

Step Twenty One: ABORT MISSION.

Step Twenty Two: Stress eat an entire large bag of popcorn on the drive home and develop an eye twitch.


So there you have it! How do you grocery shop with multiple children? The answer is simple: YOU DON’T.  You really just DO NOT DO IT.

And this is why grocery pickup services exist.


*Never trust the potty “no” before leaving the house.

(and yes, this is an actual recounting of my most recent and very last ever, grocery trip with all three of my kids)