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27th Jan 2019

15 things that will happen when food shopping with the kids

Deborah McCarthy

I really don’t enjoy food shopping.

It feels like I spend a significant amount of time and spend the majority of our income in the supermarket.

Also it is a very rare day when I am there alone. I always have a child with me, sometimes I have four. At least one of these things will happen every time we go food shopping. Sometimes all of the following will happen on the one shopping trip, these are the days that break me.

1. The Trolley – There is a choice of 400 shopping trolleys. I manage to find the wonky one.

2. Bakery Section – The first of the negotiations begin. Doughnuts are handed out so the kids can have a sugar rush in the busy supermarket. I scan the shopping as we go. A manager will walk past as the kids are shoving cakes into their mouths. I wave the scanner and make my well practised , I am not a shoplifter face. The manager hurries away as my I am not a shoplifter face could possibly be quite scary.

3. First Argument – We get through the first aisle relatively unscathed thanks to the sugar distraction. The first argument is usually about whose turn it is to weigh the banana’s. I end up weighing the banana’s. The first tears of the shopping trip may also occur at this point.

4. Free fruit –  Sometimes the supermarket has free fruit for kids there is a big sign that says free fruit for kids. I have to take the first bite of the toddler’s apple for her and one of my children has wobbly teeth/no front teeth so I take a bit of her’s too. Then, inevitably, after four bites, one or all of the kids will get bored with their apple and hand it to me. Either way the odds of me eating an apple are high, the manager passes again and spots me, the doughnut shoplifter, eating the free food for kids. Every. Single. Time.

5. The butcher/fish counter –  The picky eater will fake faint at the sight of a fish with “eyeballs still stuck in his face“. The picky eater will solemnly swear to never ever let a piece of fish enter his mouth. He will stick to this promise. The older child will point out Peppa Pig and George in the form of sausages to the toddler ensuring a new picky eater is now among us.

6. The second to tenth arguments – All of these will occur over choosing cereal, why I never buy coloured icing, why I never even buy any icing, why we never make cakes, my refusal to also buy the good biscuits, new toothbrushes, hair bobbins, dog treats……….

7. Special Offers – We need to stop and talk about everything that is on special offer and I have to explain, every single time, that it is only a special offer if you need the thing and while that is indeed a great offer for cat food we don’t have a cat and therefore we do not need it. This backfires when I see hair products on special offer and one child will pipe up and question me as to do I really need it.

8. The salesperson giving out samples of food – You know the ones who stand sometimes and give you a small taster of cheese/meet/yogurt and a sales pitch. I turn a corner and see their winning smile and their polite offer for me to taste their food then they notice all my kids with their hands out and the smile dies on their face. As they have now used up all their samples feeding my children, I have to stop and listen to their sales pitch. Usually a child will hand the half eaten food back to me and declare how foul it is. I will now feel bad for the salesperson and buy whatever it is they are selling even if I know it will never be eaten. I smile and nod and try to distract the child who is now describing in vivid detail just how disgusting whatever it is they just tasted is, loudly. We march on.

9. Advertising – “Mam, mam look its Cilit Bang. BANG and the dirt is gone,” a child will shout. “Mam we NEED this, our house is SOOOOOOOOOO dirty”.  Those Cilit Bang folk are so wily with their ads on children’s television.

10. The Music – At the start of the shopping, I will still have some enthusiasm and may sing along to the inoffensive Michael Buble tunes playing as we browse the aisles. If this is annoying one of the kids I may dance too. They don’t enjoy when I dance in the supermarket but I don’t enjoy all the things they do in the supermarket so fair is fair. I have noticed though the music they play in the supermarket seems to match the mood. The enthusiasm dies  and the music takes on a more depressing form as the shopping goes on. By the time I get to the cleaning product aisles, Bonnie Tyler is warbling away over the sound system and I am brokenly singing along “Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart”.……..The manager tends to pass me again at this stage. I lower my singing.

11. I need to pee –  Someone always needs to pee. I send them off to the bathroom. They come back still needing to pee because there was a queue or a smell or they changed their minds. Instead of peeing, they will just talk about peeing for the rest of the trip.

12. The toddler has had enough – She stands in the trolley. She starts shouting “HELP ME , SAVE ME, SOMEBODY HELP ME”. The manager walks past again. I start singing Bonnie Tyler songs to her to try to distract her. She sees me buying nappies. She starts thinking about nappies. As I am working out which pack is the best value, she is busy removing her nappy. I turn around and she hands me her nappy. I either open a packet of nappies and try to put a new one on her in the middle of the supermarket as the manager walks past again and I have to do my best I am not a shoplifting face again or I leave her nappy-less. She isn’t toilet trained. This gives me the motivation to speed up and get to the checkout. It also lowers my resolve and I start giving in to the requests to add things we don’t need to the trolley.

13. Distinguished Palate Child – I think most supermarkets have stopped displaying treats and chocolate at the tills after a healthy eating directive or something. This doesn’t stop this child’s requests. “Look new sparkling water with a hint of elderflower” she cries pleadingly. The hint of elderflower adds two euro to the cost of a normal bottle of water. I mutter about how “it’s far from elderflower I was raised”. Then there was  the day she asked for sushi at the checkout till at the top of her voice. I could see an older couple physically eye-roll and I know they are still recounting that story about the youth of today and their notions. I didn’t taste sushi till I was in my twenties. I feel like I need to tell the older couple this. They show no interest in my personal history of sushi experiences. Elderflower and sushi sometimes make their way into the trolley at the last hurdle because all resolve is gone and I just want to go home. The other two, with the standard tastes, give out about the unfairness of this and then they have to go off and find the chocolate that is no longer handily displayed at the tills because god forbid one child gets a treat when the other doesn’t. The toddler is happily eating a magazine she has shoplifted off a shelf while I am concentrating on these final negotiations. She needs to work on her I am a not shoplifter face.

15. Surprise – The checkout person tells me the total of all the shopping. Despite partaking in this exercise bi-weekly, I am always stunned by the final total. Every time. I hand over my card, on the week before payday or sometimes three weeks before payday, I hold my breath and hope the amount goes through. It does and I feel like I’ve won. We have food. We are alive. We are still in the black. WE ARE WINNING.

We come home. We eat all the shopping to get over the stress of the shopping and then we give out about how there is nothing to eat and we repeat the above again three days later. Over and over and over again. Food shopping – I don’t enjoy it at all.

Deborah McCarthy is a mum-of-four, a procrastinator, a caffeine enthusiast, a picker-upper of things. She writes about being overdrawn, overtired, overemotional and overwhelmed on her hilarious blog, The Clothesline