A Trip to the Grocery Store With a Toddler in 20 Stress-Inducing Steps

No mom can avoid the dreaded task of taking her toddler along for a grocery store run. Trying to navigate the aisles filled with obstacles (candy on the left! breakable bottle display on the right!) while trying to keep track of your child and your grocery list is always stressful, never fun, and occasionally godawful.

Here's how it goes in 20 oh-so enjoyable steps:

  1. Arrive at grocery store. Circle until you find a parking spot both close to the entrance and the cart return to make your entrance and exit as easy as possible.
  2. Try to wrestle toddler into the cart seat outside, where his screams of protest will be less disruptive and embarrassing.
  3. Five minutes later, finally get toddler to concede to sit in the cart after you give him two suckers, an action figure, and your phone.
  4. Take one more look at your grocery list before entering the store in an effort to memorize it and mentally map out the quickest route to all items. Passersby might hear you muttering, "Don't forget corn dogs, don't forget corn dogs." (Toddler loves corn dogs.)
  5. Sh*t. Toddler has spotted the kids' carts this grocery store has conveniently placed by the entrance. Screams until you take him out of the normal-size cart and present him with one not big enough to even fit all the corn dogs. Curse your choice of footwear, knowing that you will be run over and into by child cart at least a dozen times. Lecture kid about not running into you or anyone else with cart, knowing it's a futile conversation.
  6. Begin checking off your grocery list . . . very slowly. Toddler insists on getting each item off the shelves himself, then examining it to see if it's worthy of his special cart or if it can just go in your boring one.
  7. Toddler spots display of fruit leathers and insists on getting one in each flavor, despite the fact that the last 10 times he ate one, he declared it disgusting and immediately spit it out. Weigh the cost of fruit wraps with the hassle of explaining that he actually hates them and in the kid cart they go.
  8. In the middle of fighting to get eggs off the shelf by "his own self," toddler suddenly remembers there's a sample table up ahead. Abandons child cart and runs to the table, forcing you to push two carts while chasing him.
  9. Arrive just in time to see him grab a sample of Mandarin chicken, put it in his mouth, chomp down twice, then immediately spit it all over the ground.
  10. While you're cleaning half-chewed chicken off the floor, notice a familiar stench. Abandon both carts to take toddler for a diaper change.
  11. Find carts, quickly review grocery list, mentally crossing off everything that's not a necessity.
  12. Grab the two things you need to make tonight's dinner, two bottles of wine (varietal? who cares) located near the checkout, and search for the shortest line possible.
  13. Try to prevent toddler from grabbing every possible kind of candy located in the checkout line. Give in and let him pick one.
  14. Apologize profusely to checkout person as toddler insists on taking every item out of the cart and placing it on the counter with one hand, while still holding onto his chosen candy with the other. Toddler refuses to let go of candy so you can pay for it. When reasoning with him doesn't work, quickly grab it out his hand and beg the checkout person to scan it immediately and hand it back to him. The beast is tamed.
  15. Swipe your credit card while screaming at toddler that you're not done and he cannot sprint towards the exit. Run to retrieve toddler. Sign for groceries with one hand while holding firmly onto toddler's arm with the other.
  16. Attempt to get toddler to sit back in cart for the trip back to the parking lot. Shockingly, toddler refuses.
  17. Remember how annoying it is to steer a cart with one hand. Pray toddler makes it to the car alive.
  18. Leave groceries and purse in cart while putting toddler in his car seat. Priorities.
  19. Breathe a sigh of relief when he is fully strapped in, then spot cart rolling across the parking lot. Run to grab cart, load bags into car, feel grateful that you got a spot right next to the cart return, and head out. Another grocery store trip survived.
  20. Pull away and it hits you. You forgot the f*cking corn dogs.