How a trip to the grocery store can become an adventure worth uninterrupted time with kids

Local 4 anchor and reporter, Sandra Ali's daughter at the grocery store.
Local 4 anchor and reporter, Sandra Ali's daughter at the grocery store.

DETROIT – Ask me what day, week, or even what month it is, and I may take a minute or two to try and remember.

But there are other simple little moments that stick with me. One night last summer, I popped into a grocery store on my way home to grab a few quick things.  

Down one of the aisles, I recognized a mom I knew from somewhere, although I could not exactly remember where.  

We had talked several times, probably in a waiting room somewhere or outside of a dance class.  Either way, I knew her face, but could not remember her name.  

Our children are almost the exact same ages. There she was, standing almost at the checkout line with all three kids.  

One was in the cart, the other two walked alongside her so nicely.  It was around dinner time.  All three were snacking on protein bars.  Healthy protein bars.  I was in awe.  

On top of that, her shopping cart was full. It was brimming to the top, loaded with all sorts of groceries.   She was stocking up.  I was impressed.  I know we are not supposed to compare ourselves to other moms, friends or neighbors.  

In fact, I try to teach my little ones that lesson all the time.  But here I was, standing at Trader Joe's in my work dress and my gobs of makeup melting off, holding my little basket with two things in it, and I was totally jealous.  

This mom’s grocery game was strong, and I was a hot mess. I will be the first to admit, I am not the best shopper, especially at the grocery store.  

I try my best to meal plan, make lists ahead of time, ask the little loves at home what they would like in their lunches but inevitably, I always end up running around to a bunch of different stores, and forgetting half the stuff I need or went to the store for in the first place.  

Last year, we signed up for a grocery delivery service when the babies were really little and it was a lifesaver.  I did not have to step inside warehouse stores for an entire year, and I loved it.  

Did they always get it right? No. But it was the convenience that saved my sanity.  I know so many moms who say it has been a lifesaver for them.  

The upside for me, it saves me from all those expensive, but so much fun trips to Target. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a Target run.  

In fact, I just told my husband yesterday how I have not been to Target except once this year so far, and that was for the pharmacy.  Did I mention grocery delivery also brings diapers and wipes to your doorstep?  

I have figured out some little tips and tricks along the way.  When my babies were really little, and could fit snuggled up into a ball in their car seat, and the car seat could fit nicely in the back of the cart, it was a go.

Shopping with a newborn is a breeze.  In fact, most of the time, they would fall asleep, and we could shop up a storm.  

The toddler phase is a different story.  Now that the twins are old enough, the last thing they want is to be strapped into any sort of shopping cart.

They want to walk around and eat all the things.  Do not ask me how many containers of raspberries we have gone through at Costco.  It is so embarrassing when you are at the register and your husband has to bolt to the parking lot with a screaming toddler—and you can hear him all the way to the checkout line.  

Again, very embarrassing.  I will never forget taking my daughter, back when she was a toddler, on what was supposed to be a super quick run to Kroger.  

She had an epic meltdown in the freezer section and to this day we still do not know why.  She was around 3 years old and I think it may have involved Popsicles.  The rest I may have blocked out.  

Now, at 6, she is the best little shopper around.  She loves going grocery shopping with me and I love it when she comes along to help.  

My boys are now at that stage where shopping with them is not fun for anyone involved.  My big kids however, we have hit a sweet spot.  

They are at those ages now where they ask if they can come along, and I love it.  Sometimes we do a Sunday morning grocery run in between practices and it is the best.  

I get some one-on-one time with them, they help pick out things they like, and we get to have the best “big kid conversations” ever.  

I end up hearing all about what some of their classmates pack for lunch, or how they now want to try a new fruit because they see their friends eating it in the lunch room.  

Those trips always end up costing me so much more, because they love to add a bunch of stuff to the cart.  

Sometimes I have to bribe them into coming with me, and they agree to come along, if I buy them something.  I do not mind because we get to have some uninterrupted time together.  

I will take it, even if it is at a grocery store.               

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