As a mom to three rambunctious boys, I have a system when it comes to grocery shopping. I will take my kids if I'm getting a few items, but for larger trips, I insist on going alone. Grocery stores can be a parenting battle ground. There have been countless times I've been stuck in long lines with a crying baby or fit-throwing toddler. I've been subjected to unsolicited advice and grumpy gazes from elderly shoppers, or spent way more than I should because I'm distracted or just doing whatever necessary to make it out of the store before I lose my sanity. In short, I've learned that shopping solo whenever possible is the best choice for me. That does not, however, mean that it is a "break" or "me time."
Meal planning, coupon downloading, and shopping are things I do for my family, but they're not fun for me. Preparing for and cooking dinner every night is work, and so is purchasing the ingredients (and everything else that our family of five needs). I've noticed that among other mom friends, a lot of their breaks are really just running errands that need to be done with the "luxury" of being able to do them alone. I did the same thing for many years as a new mom. My husband would take his break by going fly-fishing and my break would be running to the store to get whatever groceries we needed for the week while he watched the kids. I don't do that anymore.
I'm fortunate to have a husband who is an equal partner in parenting our kids, but I found myself growing resentful that he would return from his personal time happy and refreshed, whereas I felt like I was on a hamster wheel forever spinning. So, I promised myself that I would make more time to do what fed my soul and made me happy during my downtime.
It hasn't been easy. I had gotten so used to putting my needs last that I found I felt somewhat lost and even selfish doing something that I wanted to do, but then I started to remember who I was before becoming a mother, and that is a beautiful thing. Remembering my hobbies and taking time to "fill my cup" when it's running empty has ultimately made me a more patient, and all-around better, mom.
Does going to the store by yourself feel good when you're a mom? Absolutely! But for me, it does not count as "me time."