I had three babies in 4 years and a husband who traveled a lot for work, so I had many, many trips to the Dover Hannaford with three kids under the age of 4 in tow.
Along the way I developed a system for getting through the store with more of the items on my list and fewer tantrums.
Park near a carriage corral and go pick out a “truck cart” while kids are still buckled in their car seats. As you are unbuckling the car seats, remind those who are old enough, that if they are good in the store they will get a cookie at the end of the shopping trip.
Enter the store and head LEFT towards the dairy department. Pass the customer service desk along the way and sometimes you can get free balloons for the kiddos.
Rookie mistake: starting out on the right side/produce section of the store. Before you know it, you’re in the bakery giving your kids one of the free cookies and they are high on sugar by the time you get to the deli. Save the cookie as a reward for the end of your trip.
Get your bread and milk, OJ and toilet paper first. Then snag other necessities in those left hand aisles. This way, if you have to bag the whole trip, you at least have some essentials.
Make your way through the other aisles, reminding whiny children that they are only getting a cookie if they are being good.
Nice! You are halfway through the store. Stop at the deli counter. Point out the lobsters for the kids to watch while you wait for your items. Give slices of cheese to kids for a snack. A little protein before the sugar high.
Now head for the bakery area and the free cookies. Maybe a coffee for mom? Kids are no doubt getting wiggly, the cookie now will buy you enough time to finish up your shopping.
Grab as many fruit and veggies as you can while assessing how much time you have before the kids blow and you need to leave. Factor in the time needed to checkout and load your car.
If you have enough time and kids are old enough, ask them to help pick out apples and oranges and/or identify the fruits and veggies. Ask younger kids about colors and shapes they see in the fruit. You are on the home stretch, good job!
Quickly scan the check out aisles and choose yours based on the length of the line and who is working there. Now, I know this isn’t PC, but choose a checkout line that has older women working in it. They are most likely moms and most likely get that this needs to GO QUICKLY and that your kids need free stickers. Bonus if the bagger is a mom too, she’ll do a better job organizing your bags. Super Bonus if they are working the “non-candy” aisle.
If by this point you are not on your last nerve and you have the wherewithal to find the coupons in your purse AND present them to the clerk, then you are way ahead of me on most days. Head out to the car, buckle the kids in the car seats and THEN load the groceries in to your car. Put the cart back in the carousel next to you and breathe a deep sigh. You did it.