It's been 15 months of grocery shopping with baby and I'm finally at a place where I feel pretty confident going with Jordan now. I went from fledgling mother going on multiple trips to obtain everything I needed with baby strapped into his carseat and placed inside the cart to intermediate mother with then sitting child who giddy with excitement continually snapped photos to document it to know it all to confident shopper who doesn't even think I shouldn't get that until my husband is helping me anymore. How did this happen?!
I can make it in and out in less than 15 minutes and effortlessly lug two gallons of milk, a week's worth of veggies and household cleaning products up three flights of stairs with Jordan in my bjorn. I feel pretty dang good about it too. And some of my friends (recently at the wedding) have commented on my now lean arms and stronger biceps - no doubt from the twenty pounds I carry daily (yeah, he's a skinny minnie) but also from the additional weights I occasionally add on for all our grocery needs.
I know it'll all change with another child (spare me the warning everybody with more than one child), but I'm pretty content with the routine we've got in place, and I wish I knew what I know now then.
1) Create a list - Never, and I mean NEVER, go to the grocery store with child just to pick up one or two items or to see what you may need. Go with purpose. Intent. Create a plan. A list. Separate it by item category (veggies, meat, frozen, dairy, cleaning, personal hygiene products, etc.) too!
2) Go at an ideal time - This one is a little trickier and took some time for me to finesse. The perfect time for me is after Jordan has eaten... but also after he has gotten some energy out of his body, but not when he's so tired he'll become delirious (some kids get cranky, mine - he gets way deliriously hilarious).... that is not a huge window of opportunity, but after realizing it - I have made it a staple of our grocery trips. If not, it will HAVE to wait. I will make other adjustments. I do not intend for Jordan to get out of his nice little grocery cart seat while in the store, but if he hasn't run around enough before we leave... he'll whine and try to stand up (no matter how tight you make the seatbelt!)
3) Bring distractions - Also known as typical household items and snacks. New items help - ones he has not seen before. Contraptions with buttons or zippers or straps are all goodies.
4) Prepare your kid! Talk about the grocery trip - I know Jordan is too young to understand but I want to establish good habits young. So I talk to him about where we're going, what we're getting at the grocery store and try to involve him in the process. I hated going to the grocery store with my mom when I was a kid, but for me - it was a filial piety thing. To not go would mean I was disobedient and disrespectful and I wanted to be the good kid. My mom's mechanism worked also - she always got me a snack of boba milk tea at the place next door or some Chinese red bean filled circle crepe things, yum and I also got to pick out my own cereal and snacks.
5) Park by the cart drop off - I hate putting my cart in the lot randomly instead of the rightful place, in the cart return place. But putting the stuff into the trunk, Jordan into his carseat, and then taking the cart back is near impossible! So I find the parking spot CLOSEST - if not immediately next to - the cart return thing! Genius! Or so I thought when I first discovered it. Given the choice between a spot right by the store and one far but by a cart return, I choose the latter. Bonus points for spots that are close and have a cart return nearby!
I tried to find a recent photo of Jordan at the grocery store sitting nicely in the cart, but apparently, that's not a big deal anymore. Trust me, it was a HUGE deal when he was a few months old, when he learned to sit, and now .. it's just a normal thing I suppose.