A Photographic Guide to Shopping with Small Children

I remember when I was a smug childless twit and I used to judge parents and kids I saw while shopping at the store. “I am NEVER going to let my kids behave like some of those brats”, I thought as I effortlessly perused the aisles of Target. Well, never say never my friends. Here I am, many years and battles later, with those kids at the store. You know those kids. The ones that are loud, run around hiding in clothing racks, need to touch every item on the shelves, and just generally make your uterus quiver in horror with their mere noisy presence.

I have compiled some of my own personal photos to give all of my newbie and non-parent friends an idea of things you might also experience while shopping with small children.

Enjoy the stage where your child can be contained in an infant seat or cart. This blissful stage passes all too quickly. At the time you’ll probably think shopping with kids is difficult, but you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, sister. As you can see in the picture, the main issue in this stage is that by the time you get the kids in the cart you have nowhere to put any actual items. I’m pretty sure I’ve wedged a bottle of wine into the infant carrier before because, priorities. Don’t judge.

Waving to her adoring
Waving to her adoring “fans” as we glide down the aisles. On this particular trip to Target I made it all the way to the check outs before realizing I left my wallet at home. And, yes, this was after she had opened and eaten the goldfish. Oops.

The carts with seating options for multiple children help free up some valuable cart space. But be advised that this is also not a perfect solution. The cart space is usually smaller than a standard cart, yet the size of the cart is humongous and has the turning radius of a stretched limousine. I have knocked over my share of grocery store displays (clean-up on aisle 7!) and, sadly, I have rear-ended a few people with these giant metal monstrosities. Proceed with caution.

My youngest was so pleased with herself for sitting in the
My youngest was so pleased with herself for sitting in the “big girl” seat. My oldest was less than thrilled at the prospect of having to actually sit next to her sister.

Also, there is an inherent danger in having your children so close in proximity to one another. In other words, expect fighting. There always seems to be some kind of an altercation brewing in this little car. Trouble I tell ya. Trouble.

Car carts are adorable. But be prepared for fights. Moments after this pic was taken my oldest bit my youngest.
Car carts are adorable. But be prepared for fights. Moments after this pic was taken my oldest bit my youngest. Bit her. Like a dog.

Kids have a limited window of time at the store before they lose their ever-loving minds. Budget your time accordingly. Pick up essentials at the beginning of your shopping trip. Nobody needs a meltdown before you’ve even made it to the dairy aisle.

She's just done. Totally and utterly done.
She’s just done. Totally and utterly done.

They want to touch EVERYTHING. Seriously. Just, like, anything they can get their sticky little hands on. This hazard emerges when you are no longer able to hold them hostage, err, I mean secure them in the cart. They are particularly drawn to breakable and fragile items.

You know, just checking out some stuff at Target.
You know, just checking out some stuff at Target.

They want you to buy them everything under the sun. Every toy, gadget, and gizmo they see they need to have! A detour down the toy aisle easily adds an extra 30-45 minutes to our trip. Luckily, my kids (usually) understand that I’m not going to buy them everything they want, so we have been able to avoid the whole screaming in the aisles for a toy spectacle. (And now, because I have said that, I am fully prepared for them to throw the mother of all tantrums on our next shopping trip.)

“Put the ponies in the shopping cart and nobody gets hurt. Kapeesh?”

All the world’s a stage… And I just never know when my dynamic duo is going to bust out into a song and dance routine. I swear, it’s like living in a demented Disney musical. Middle of the aisle dance party? Sure. Why not.

Dance party at the corner of hygiene and boy's clothing. Shoes optional.
Dance party at the corner of hygiene and boy’s clothing. Shoes optional.
“Mommy! We’re mannequins! Take our picture!

I hope you enjoyed my visual guide to shopping with children. It helped me realize that I might spend too much time at Target. Nah. Who am I kidding? There is no such thing as too much time at Target.

What are some of the challenges you face while shopping with your kiddos?

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12 thoughts on “A Photographic Guide to Shopping with Small Children

  1. Target is my place too, I’m not judging. Love this post, also I’m glad I only have one kiddo this small anymore. You’ve got some double – trouble 😉

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  2. Nicole, I need to let you in on a little secret at my Kroger. They have a (totally free) staffed kids playroom. You can drop the kids (over age 3) off , and watch them in the playroom on a screen in every other aisle. They even have a Starbucks on site. I’ve seen plenty of moms drop off at the playroom, grab a grocery cart (just for looks) and head on over to Starbucks with a magazine on hand. It’s basically Nirvana on Alma and McDermott. would it be too much to beg the manager to put on a Kroger Bar??

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