Thursday, October 24, 2013

Getting It All Done: Shopping Expeditions-Part 1

Bryan works in Spokane.  All the good grocery stores are there. Owen's doctors are too. And the dentist. And Costco--don't forget Costco!With all that going for it, it makes sense that we do 95% of our shopping in Spokane.

But, it's 45 minutes to get there.  To the north end.  To get to Bryan's work--its more like an hour. With gas so expensive--it also makes sense that we combine trips. That means the kids and I get up early, go take Daddy to work, shop, and then pick Daddy up.  It's a long day.  But--it works for us.

We do a big shopping day once a month.  I find that this makes it easier.  It cuts down on the number of trips we have to take.  I try to schedule shopping around doctor appointments and dentist check ups and what not.  We do the best we can on that.  Sometimes we take more than one trip a month.  And that's okay.

This post isn't even on shopping yet.  It's on all the prep work that has to be done.  This is crucial.  We can't have a good trip to town if we don't plan.  The day before our town day, we have many tasks:

  • Make a shopping list
    • This actually starts a few days before, and I give it a quick glance the day before.  I have a master list saved on Excel of every store I go to, and the groceries I buy.  I have prices on it, and can plug in how many I need.  This was a pain to make, but a life saver ever since.  
    • If you don't have a list, you can't stick to it.  We've cut money out of the budget just by sticking to our list. If there is a really good buy on something, I'll stock up, but for the most part it has to be on the list.
  • Make an itinerary 
    • We know that Bryan has to be to work at 8.  Thus, we have to leave the house at 6:45. We write down any appointments that we have to keep.  We write down the stores we have to go to (which is easy because of our shopping list).  We figure out errands--post office, returns/exchanges, etc.  
    • I have to pick Bryan back up at 4:30.  Then I start plugging in our destinations in an order that makes sense.  If I need a lot of frozen things, I  schedule that store last. If I have three stores on the north end of town, I schedule them together when possible. 
    • By looking at everything we need to do, I can decide what extra activities we will have time for.  On a light shopping trip, we take advantage of our Mobius Science Center and Children's Museum membership.  On beautiful days, we plan for a picnic in the park.  On busier days, those have to be cut.  
    • I plug extra time into our schedule.  Simon has to nurse.  The shopping might take longer.  Potty breaks occur.  Stuff happens.  If my schedule isn't crammed, it isn't a problem. 
  • Decisions: Wheelchair or Not?
    • I have a lot more room in the back of the Suburban without Owen's wheelchair.  But, if we have an appointment, I can't leave it behind.  Bryan and I try to decide if it's a necessity that day or not.  Thankfully, he's still small enough that he can sit fairly comfortably in the carts at most stores.
    • Some stores are easier to do with a wheelchair.  Cash and Carry for instance, does not have carts.  If I have to go there, I bring the chair.  
    • If I bring the chair--I have to carefully check my list.  Only so much can fit in our car.  I try to alternate the big items that I buy so I don't need everything each month. 
  •  Decisions: Lunch
    • We have to eat. :) There are three choices for us to consider:
      • Packed lunch?
      • Partially packed and partially bought? (ie: buy dollar burgers and bring juice and cookies and crackers)
      • Buy lunch
    • If packing or partially packing (used mainly in the hot summer months), I need to work with the kids to get their lunchboxes out and ready. 
  • Diaper Bag
    • An important element of our day.  I have to be prepared. I bring a change of clothes for each child and a new shirt for me (in case of major spit up or spills!).  Simon and Owen get two outfits each, as they are more likely to need them. 
    • I have diapers for Owen, Sydney and Simon.  Wipes get thrown in.
    • Snacks for the day are packed.  We usually do pretzels and cheese sticks for morning snack, and cookies for the afternoon.    
    • Put it in the car.  We've forgotten it before.  That makes for a bad day...and either extra shopping or extra driving. 
  • Clean the Car
    • It's no fun to be crammed into a mess all day.  I have Jeffrey and Jayme bring in everything from the car. I vacuum. 
    • Yes--it's just going to get very messy again.  But, at least it doesn't start that way! 
  • Breakfast 
    • The most important meal of the day needs prep work too.  We need something fast, portable and healthy.  Something that will keep us filled until morning snack time.  
    • Breakfast burritos, muffins, smoothies and healthy breakfast cookies have all been used successfully. 
    • I make anything in advance that I need to, and have the rest ready to throw together in the morning.
  • Setting Alarm Clocks
    • Very important!  I have to get up a little early in order to have chores all done before we leave.  Since we'll be gone all day, I have to double check all animal water which adds a bit of time.  
Once each of these things are checked off my list, I help everyone set out their clothes for the next day.  Then I feel prepared for our day in town.  Next time, we'll look at what the actual shopping days look like.

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