Some time ago I decided that grocery shopping should not be stressful. I recently stumbled across a quote that solidified this: "cooking is an act of love." And since one can not cook without ingredients, shopping for food is, by association, an act of love.
This idea probably surfaced when I started shopping alone with Emagene. Now that I have two it takes more determination to guarantee that stress is limited. First off, everyone must eat before we shop. At the very least, the trip starts with a deli purchase and some time at the cafe tables. Momma has more control over her emotions, the children aren't asking for every treat they see on the shelf, and we save money by sticking to our list and not buying everything that looks amazing!
Next, the trip is a learning experience. What am I teaching them? What am I not teaching them is a better question! They are learning how to select produce, how to follow lists, how to interact with others, how to behave in traffic. We chat with strangers over the random shelving choice to separate the cans of green chilies into 2 locations instead of lumping them all together on the same shelf. We price compare, watch the bakers use the awesome tortilla oven, and practice reading.
I try play to a characteristic at each ahop to help keep the chore lite. At one store, momma gets a coffee or a hot chocolate to share, another place we get always cookies, a third shop has amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. So I plan my trip based on time of day and which "treat" is appropriate. I try not to snack the entire time were shopping, or every time. We spend a lot more time weighing apples just because (I buy a number of apples and don't stress the weight, but its fun for emagene to use tools and she feels helpful when she has jobs.) I encourage her to pick the best peppers, or find the bag of lentils (green label with a big "L"), Or other staple products she is familiar with, like tinned olives. Sometimes I let Aoife chew on a tub of yogurt, or I buy overpriced berries and let her experience the food she's surrounded by. The whole time I apologize to everyone, stressing public politeness, and probably seem Canadian to those watching. But the girls have fun. Or at least they seem to. Their eyes are wide open and their senses are alert busily taking everything in. After shopping, we usually head home for lunch, a video or book, and a nap!
It helps that I'm not particularly bothered with what people think of my kids, except for when I would shop with a screaming newborn and my exhausted nerves where fried. When we shop, I only notice my kids and maybe the people we're about to run over or who stop to comment on how well behaved my kids are. I take time to talk to them about what we're buying, what were going to do with it, how it got to the shop. Sometimes i make them smell the berries or knock on the watermelon. i have had more people stop to thank me for teaching my 4-year old how to grocery shop than I have had tell me I was brave for shopping with a newborn, or that I have my hands full (which happens a lot, usually when aoife is asleep in the carrier and Emagene is in one of those car carts that are horrible to steer!)
Truthfully, when Emagene is in that manually operated amusement ride and Aoife is asleep, I can get my shopping done quick, but it isn't as fun. That's the experience I save for the last store of the day.
And now to keep the love flowing into dinner prep, that's a completely different journey!