So, usually I do my bi-weekly Aldi shopping trip by myself, or with only my eldest son (age 10). I make sure it's payday which gives me the giddy feeling of having TONS of money to spend--illusion is my comfort. I have my list all made out, check the special items on sale that week, leave the napping baby and other munchkins happily watching a cartoon, and virtually skip out the door to buy Food, Glorious Food! Please sing the preceding line to get the full effect of my joy. I don't know why buying food makes me so happy, but something about coming home with a boatload of yummy goodness is so fulfilling! I feel it's almost a vocation of sorts....
Today was different. My Hubs has been working a lot of extra hours, so it's been challenging to find a time for me to escape to the store. I found myself in need of several of my staple items and decided to take a cue from Jules in her Community Kids post and bring the children to the store. My kids are well behaved, and I don't mind bringing them along. They've accompanied me to many an appointment and errand. However, I was reminded today that it's just not FUN to bring all 7 children to Aldi.
I planned my errands wisely--hit the Goodwill to clear out the van's cluttered trunk of "garage sale fail" items we've been toting around for weeks; proceed to the library so the kids could play and read and select a couple hundred books to bring home (and so I could pay the $9 fine I owed. What is wrong with me?? Why didn't I just renew the freaking books online??); and then drive across the street to the grocery store.
I unloaded the clown car (I had the mini van) and walked the children across the parking lot, noticing about 8 pairs of eyes marveling at the parade of children accompanying me. Sigh. More to come. I stick the baby in the front of the cart and plop the 2 year old in the back ("Mom, it says here that No Child Should Sit in the Back of the Cart!" "Hush, Jo, it's fine. They won't say anything because they don't want a 2 year old on the loose either!"). A 4 year-old and a 6 year-old hold onto the sides of the cart, while the 3 older boys (ages 8, 9, and 10) walk behind. Thusly, we enter the store, only narrowly fitting through the automatic door.
As we walked down that first aisle I felt unfocused, unsure as to what to put in the basket. I knew I needed chocolate chips and some canned goods, but those items didn't seem important enough to be out like this. The kids were being good, but there are just so many distractions! I have to keep my eyes on the children and the food on the shelves and the sale prices and the random people around asking me "Oh, they are not all yours, are they?" "How old is the baby? She's so cute!" "How many sets of twins?" And the children asking, "Can we buy some of these pomegranates? And pumpkins! Can we carve a jack 'o lantern tonight?"
When all was said and done, I escaped with $70 worth of food and all kids accounted for with no disciplinary actions needed. HOWEVER, I will not do that again soon. My peace was not there. I'm not sure I shopped smart.
It occurred to me that even 8 adults all going to the same place at the same time would be borderline ridiculous.....unless you had reservations and alcohol. Perhaps we have reached critical mass and it simply isn't feasible to expect to accomplish a whole lot when we attempt group errands. We had better stick to the library and the park and the soccer fields, if at all possible.
I love being an advocate for big families when out and about the town. I love when my kids get compliments on their behavior. I love spending time with them. But I also love the one hour of grocery shopping Nirvana I get every couple weeks--minus the parade. I think I need to make an Easy Rule...
Rule #65: Make sure you are able to bring your kids with you around town in a pinch. But if you want to really shop successfully and intelligently and (let's be honest) enjoyably, take yourself on a grocery store vacation.