Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lesson 51: Shopping With Kids

For the love of god I'll never truly understand why I self-inflict the trauma of going shopping with my kids.

I know how it plays out.

I've been bumbling through the role of parent for THREE YEARS and the only thing that has really changed in that time is that I have created a second small human to take with me. I bloody know.

And yet still I embark on these adventures.

With a pram loaded to the max with snacks for the toddler and Lamaze toys for the baby (plus said baby in the pram and toddler clutching one hand), I leave the house feeling optimistic and smug.

We are all dressed before midday (winning), nobody is crying (yet) and we are off out.

We're not talking about the supermarket Big Shop here (also hell with kids, but kind of essential). We're talking about clothes shopping. Shopping shopping. 'Going up town.' The fun kind of shopping you once enjoyed on a Saturday afternoon when you had time to browse, try stuff on and then buy a dress from Topshop (plus a peel-off face mask and new nail varnish from Superdrug because you had a social life to dress for).


With kids in tow, the more likely turn of events is something altogether different. Something more akin to the last time I attempted this misery...


We didn't even get to the first shop before The Toddler needed a wee. 

We then sprinted (not easy with pram plus three year old on foot) straight to M&S to make use of the facilities. Which are always on the top floor, meaning you have to queue behind Wednesday morning shoppers with mobility scooters and walking frames who are also waiting for the lift. 

Mission toddler wee accomplished, we exited the toilets and it dawned on me that I now had only thirty minutes before the baby would be due his next feed. Spying the M&S café on the other side of the third floor, I begrudgingly headed over and bought a fruit smoothie bottle for an extortionate £2.60. This at least meant we could legitimately set up camp in the café and sort out the baby's bottle whilst the toddler ate one of the fifteen Bear Yo-Yo Snacks I had packed in the change bag. 

Finally clear of M&S (an hour later), we headed to John Lewis - our first proper shop (and,  incidentally, our last). The Toddler ran riot, 'flying' with arms outstretched between clothing sections, cutting up middle-class shoppers who voiced their disapproval by tutting. I started trying to regain control in a very measured Supernanny voice 'we don't run off darling, come here please'...but after chasing him through the furniture and lighting started yelling 'FOR GOD'S SAKE COME BACK HERE OR YOU WON'T HAVE ANY MORE SNACKS OR THE iPAD' allowing bystanders to witness the true Jeremy Kyle nature of my parenting. 

We were, by this stage, at the onset of an I'm Going To Be An Arse tantrum which true to form culminated in him lying down on the floor of the lift. At the exact same point the baby decided to wake from his ten minute nap and cry. Such was the circus of my family that when the lift stopped at the second floor, the childless couple who had called the lift down decided to wait for another. So proud.



We left John Lewis without having looked at a single item.

I had set my sights on further shops to 'nip into.' Next, GAP, H&M, Zara....but you simply do not nip anywhere with small children. Yet again, it was not to be. 

Having resigned myself to the fact we would head home (and after muttering 'fucking kids, fucking waste of fucking time' under my breath), the baby did a poo. Through his suit. Fucking fuckety hell shit and arse. 

So I angrily marched (as best as one can march whilst pushing a pram and dragging a sulking toddler) back to M&S to change the nappy. And the babygro. And the vest. 

And then we went home. And put Peppa sodding Pig on. And I sat with PTSD (Post Traumatic Shopping Disorder) and vowed never again.

Perhaps the most tragic conclusion to this shopping adventure was that when I actually did become lucky enough to shop alone for a few hours the following weekend, it was largely disappointing. Firstly, nothing fits. I needed a new swimming costume and even the navy 'tummy control panel' suit made me look like fucking Moby Dick. Secondly, I felt on edge - I've lost the ability to browse because I have trained myself that I live on borrowed time, even when there is no rush. And lastly, I ended up in Baby Gap and H&M buying outfits for the kids. Because tantrums and crying and shitty babygros aside I love the little buggers.

Lesson 51: Don't take small children shopping. And don't try on a swimming costume four months after giving birth. 

The Unmumsy Mum


45 comments:

  1. I'm sitting on the sofa quietly laughing (3 month old & toddler asleep together!! A huge first!) thinking that you have just described every outside venture i have tried, alone & with other people... so glad to have found this blog!! My life is normal!! ��

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    1. Haha, I wouldn't say normal but you are certainly not alone ;-) thanks so much for reading x

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  2. That is an extortionate price for a smoothie. If it's any consolation, I can say for sure that there are definitely mums in Ecuador who share in your misery at being unable to control the behaviour of their offspring - a misery that transcends the class system: I was on a truck driving through Ecuador recently and I saw a mother rooting through a garbage dump for supplies of some sort. Her toddler was agitatedly sitting on a pile of bin bags next to her. She kept threatening to run off across the dump on one of those imaginary adventures that children so enviably have. The mother had to keep grabbing the child's arm to stop her barreling off over the junk pile whilst simultaneously attempting to acquire what I can only assume were usable or saleable items.

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    1. Indeed ;-)

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    2. Oh I loved reading this comment - what an interesting observation! Thank you.

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  3. oh my. ...... thats exactly what my shopping trips end up like.... last one had 4 year old in pushchair, and toddler toddling. .... after 4 year old fell asleep in his extortionately priced cake and drink. ..... ! x

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    1. God dam it those cafe trips are so pricey!!! Thanks for reading :-)

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  4. My two boys are now 26 & 25. Nothing changes. I love your stories, they take me back to those hellish days, days I thought would never end! I thought I was the only one who felt like that. I recommend you to all my young mother friends x

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    1. Ahh thanks Alison that is lovely to hear. I can't imagine my two boys in their twenties but I'm sure I will look back then and wonder where the time went. Thanks for commenting xx

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  5. I am thoroughly enjoying your blog - makes me feel I'm not alone.... xAx

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    1. You are most definitely NOT alone xx

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  6. I'm so with you, I feel your pain and misery!
    We have all been there, I no longer attempt such trips.
    I advise internet shopping, always!!
    Good post x

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    1. YES to internet shopping. Sometimes I convince myself we all need to get out of the house and that shopping will be a good idea. It never is!! Thanks for reading x

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  7. Yep. Thats my wife and I as well. Even when we BOTH go, its no easier. Just end up stressed and snapping at each other. And you didnt even mention the shops that set thier rails out EXACTLY 1 bloody inch too small to get a buggy round (or wheelchair - dont they want thier money too?), or the moronic brianless fucktards who just STAND there LOOKING RIGHT AT YOU when your'e trying to get past, even though theres a 10 foot gap behind them they could step into to let you pass even when youve said 'excuse me' (presuming they havent already just shoved past you themselves). Funny really (no its fecking not) when I think of the zillion times WE stand aside and let OTHERS past. Courtesy seems dead these days. Internet shopping = Win.

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    1. Haha I am loving your comments!!! I see red at other shoppers too - some are so ignorant when it comes to moving out the way AND just stopping in front of you with no warning. Grrrr. Internet shopping it is :-)

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  8. Every time I see a picture of your son on the floor it cracks me up (thank you!). My daughter spent almost her entire 3rd year on the floor, initially tantruming but I think then to piss me off. I can't imagine why that couple didn't want to get in the lift :)

    I've been there a lot of times. I feel as if I'm ambitious enough to get us out and pretty much prepared but we're still not quite there, at pulling off successful outings. I had 15 minutes to shop by myself at the weekend, I only wanted to go in 1 shop, but I panicked, dashed about like a headless chicken with no thought other than that everything in there looked better than everything I owned, how do you choose?! I have no memory of it and no idea what I should/want to look like.

    I have been seeking the answer to swimwear since having baby no. 1 and I still don't have it. Good luck and good on you for even getting out there and putting on all of that. X

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    1. Ha Milla so glad it's not just me!!! Thanks for reading xx

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    2. It's definitely not just you :-) when my daughter was 3 she also would lie on the floor in protest and when I tried to pick her up (after all other threats had failed) she woul roll away REALLY fast! I was so happy when she grew out of this phase and into another... ;-)

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  9. Brilliant and so true!! I love your blog! Internet shopping though!! You can do it in the evening in pjs with wine...

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  10. Thank you so much for this blog, It could be written by me! I don't feel so guilty now about all the under my breath(and sometimes not quite so under my breath) swearing. Sometimes it feels like everyone else is skipping through fields to the farm shop every afternoon. I also have 2 boys, 3 and 2, and have just had a bloody nother one! Wish me luck..

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  11. Ha, fantastic! My sympathies are with you, I remember my daughter throwing up in Next and my son running into a huge window display & destroying it - I vowed never to take them shopping again! Thank god for internet shopping :)

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  12. I knew our last shopping 'trip' was not going to go well when my five year old shouted in a very stern voice "I am only going in 1 shop". This was as I opened the door of the car in the car park. (she was right) :(

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  13. Brilliant. I tend to do a lot of internet shopping now, and I just pray that it will fit, as there is no way I'm venturing out to the list office (another great place for tantrums, especially as there so much to grab and throw...) x

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  14. It's true. You forget how to shop and what suits you. This is how Gok Wan makes a living. I left work early the other day and shopped. For me. On my own. For an hour. For the first time in about four years.

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  15. Just catching up on your blog while child no 2 has a nap! I love it, your life seems to be the mirror image of mine. Thank you for making me laugh after a shitty day! X

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  16. Sounds ao familiar. I gave up all attempts at such a thing, but it never ceases to amaze me that I can occasionally get a shop without the small boys and all I bring home is clothes for them . My sister who has10month old twins recommends the free personal shopper aeevice at House of Fraser to make the most of a precious child free shopping trip

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  17. This has had me in stitches this morning. I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old so can totally relate to this. Every time I look around the shopping centre or supermarket, every other mum seems to be totally in control making it look so easy! I seem to be the only one dragging my tantruming 3 year old along with one arm, baby screaming and back arching in the pushchair, whilst I smile politely at passing strangers wondering if they can actually see the steam pouring out of my ears! Love your blog, makes me feel normal, keep it up please for my and every mum's sanity! (Incidentally, how on earth do you find the time?!)

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  18. My daughter is 7yrs going on 13 ;o) and is now a delight to shop with - she loves it more than me but reading this took me back to when she was 2yrs old.

    On a rare shopping trip to get new shoes (for her) she flatly refused to put anything on her feet instead preferring to roll around on the floor and kick out at the poor girl in Clarks -we had to leave shoeless and embarrassed ... I was then lulled into a false sense of security when she seemingly started to behave so risked going to M&S to pick up 'something nice for tea'.

    We had been in store for no more than 2 mins when I couldn't find her "where on earth could she be, she was here not 2 seconds ago" - panic set in until I realised the hoo ah going on behind me... I approached the small gathering crowd red faced and sheepish (as I knew immediately that the commotion was being caused by my daughter), only to find she had gotten herself in between the front window and the display somehow and was gleefully entertaining the passers by on the street. I'm not sure the store manager was as entertained as the shoppers though - she had a very strained grin on her face when she finally retreived my daughter from the window and returned her to me.

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  19. I'm glad it's not only my children who crave Yo-Yo snacks like crack. Although mine call them 'bear sweets' which sounds great to all who hear this and think I'm some dreadful parent who gives her kids confectionery for breakfast, lunch and tea. Honestly, if I've never found a better bribe though. PS I wish I'd had a blog like this to read 5 years ago with my first child but I'm finally accepting of the fact that some days you're not doing anything wrong, some days your kids just are little arseholes... Great work! Anyway, as you were xx

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  20. Ive only very recently found your blog but thank god for it for my sanitys sake! I have 3 kids - 4yo 2yo & 9mo & number 4 on the way - and taking them shopping.... well what can I say. This post has made me see im not the only one who can lose it with the kids & give up! I now go shopping on the partners days off & leave the kids with him! Thank you for making my world seem a lot more sane!! Keep it up xx

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  21. You have a fantastic way with words. You've made me laugh so hard today. This is exactly the kind of shopping trip I typically have and I always end up feeling thoroughly miserable. At least now I know that others go through this same hell (including the swimsuit!).

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  22. Never clothes shop with my nearly 4 year old- on the rare occasions (about twice a year) I shop on my own nothing fits. So I'm wearing crappy old clothes all the time, rubbish!

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  23. I love your blog you describe my life to a t. I have a two year old and a nine year old. And i am that sad now that i get excited even just popping to lidl chil. Free. I even find myself doing a kid free strut. No one ever tells you the truth about having kids so forthat i thank you x

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  24. Thought this was going to be a really short blog that just said "don't", but glad to see I'm not the only one who lives as proof of the concept of "hope over (poopy and tantrummy) experience. Loving your work, lady x

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  25. Too true! I still feel I need to shop at 100 miles an hour even when I'm childfree! Can't seem to do anything without fearing my enjoyment will be soon cut short by my children publicly shaming me! At least you didn't loose one! I was in gap once when my 3 year old left me paying at the till with her baby brother and she decided to leave the shop and shopping centre! I had her in reins until she kept crying and begging me" mummy they hurt"!! The old dears at John Lewis gave her pitiful stares so I unleashed the beast! Then she did a runner after playing hide and seek behind the clothes!! Thankfully someone saw her near the main doors and chased her back again after the 10 mins of hell when I realised and had heart failure! I then didn't actually venture into town with both kids for almost a year! The demon child is now 5 and I have to say has improved massively! Now my youngest is 3 and generally goes around pushing and shoving anyone in his way! Ages and stages! What Joy! xx

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  26. I love this and as a mum of a 2 yr old and an almost 3 month old I am so glad I'm not the only one who spends hours in m&s feeding and changing the little darlings!

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  27. I love reading this blog, every entry make me chuckle out loud, people really annoy me when they refuse to get into a lift when said little demon babies start having a major hissy fit in the middle of upper class shopping hell, then the tutting and the dirty looks gets going almost like the people sending them out are thinking ' when we had young children they never behaved like that' to those people Id love to smack round the face with a large wet salmon!

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  28. This is sadly my life but I have a seven year old girl who thinks she's 17, a four year old boy who doesn't listen and a 3month old, when one starts they all start, I also go out to get myself something and come back with kids stuff instead lol

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  29. It could have been worse - had you managed to get to a clothing floor and try on garments; you know your toddler will repeated fling open/twist around in the curtains flashing you to all and sundry- mine kindly shouted "mummy, your pants are stuck up your bum and look all twisted - get them out of your bottom mummy" (I was somewhat bravely wearing a thong) - then "mummy you need to tuck your tummy into your pants". Nothing like a confidence boost.

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  30. I'm coming off of Facebook soon, and I will definitely miss your amazing insight into the juggling act that is being a mum to two littlies. How else can I contact your blog? I am not on Twitter, but I look forward to seeing your first book in the not so distant future, well done you.

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  31. My boys are now 23 and 20 and somehow an 11 year old (who thinks she's 21) girl got thrown into the mix too! I remember attempting to shop with a newborn and a 3 year old and even now 20 years later I've come out in hives just thinking about it. One trip to Debenhams resulted in said 3 year old entering the lift and the lift doors closing before I could get the pram and baby stuff into the lift with him. Cue one screaming toddler and one 'exorcist resembling' mother threatening a pensioner aged lady from Debenhams!!
    All that said, it does get better but I will NEVER shop with my daughter. Last week's helpful tip from her - 'Mum would you like me to teach you how to put your make-up on????!!!!'

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  32. This is spot on I'm crying & laughing xx

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  33. I'm late to the party here, but this reminds me of a trip to the village shop when my son was about 4 (he's now 5.5). Having got inside the door, he immediately noticed a very elderly and shaky man using a walking stick to support himself. This provided the cue for him to grab the man's stick and try to snatch it from him. I apologised profusely and managed to drag my son away. At this point he decided it would be a good idea to run over to the shelf with the eggs, shout "Splat!" and try and swipe off two boxes with one arm. I don't know how I managed to avert that disaster - quick reflexes. Now I avoid the shop with the three of them unless I have another adult with me for backup.

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  34. Wow! Nice stuff. I am very glad that I found your blog. Keep sharing such kind of useful information. Excellent one.
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  35. Time out by myself always feels like borrowed time! (and is therefore hard to enjoy). When do we get over that??

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