Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting It All Done: Shopping Expeditions Part 2

Last time we looked at how we prepare for a shopping expedition. Today we'll tackle the actual shopping process for the six kids and me.

After we drop Bryan off at work, we tackle the first store on our itinerary. I strap Simon into a front pack and rally the troops. If we have the wheelchair, Owen uses it (with Jayme pushing).  If we don't, we just grab a second cart. Sydney sits in the front of this one, with Owen sitting in the back.  I push this cart, and Jayme pushes the cart we use for our items.  Jeff and Ellie walk along beside us, or take turns sitting in the front of the Jayme's cart.  I'm so thankful for an older child!  She is such a blessing and a helper.

The kids love showing me things they find as we walk through the store. We usually implement a one-finger rule.  They can touch things with one finger.  This prevents them from grabbing.  At least most of the time! Jayme helps me keep reminding everyone about this rule.  I try to practice it too, unless the item is going in the cart.  No fair for me to be grabbing things I'm not buying but telling my kids they can't. 

Some stores we go in, get what we need and get out quickly.  Others we take our time and just wander through.  Costco has good samples (yum!) so we go slow. 

No matter if we are in a slow store or a fast store, if energy levels are high, I'll suggest that the kids skip to the end of the aisle and back (in a non-crowded part of the store of course).  I might even join them. :) I've also done scavenger hunts within aisles. Who can find something blue first?  How about the number 3? Distractions are good. 

Shopping with six kids really can be fun.  It all depends on my attitude.  I really have to keep it in check and  not let myself get stressed. Kids are active.  My children are not perfectly behaved in stores.  They whine.  But, if I start barking out orders or whining, or stressing, the whole trip goes south pretty quickly. I sometimes have to stop and whisper a quick prayer for patience and a better attitude.  The Lord provides abundantly well!

Snacks are also important for keeping the day going well!  Hungry kids whine.  A lot.  At least my hungry kids do. We bring a substantial morning snack (usually cheese sticks and pretzels).  About 10:00 we park out of the way somewhere and eat.  If it's summertime, we'll find a park.  Otherwise, we just sit in the car.  I sit in the middle row and have Jayme sit up front.  This way I can keep Owen from taking Sydney's food.  If I feed Owen, it also cuts down substantially on the mess.  Win-win!

After a snack, we tackle a few more items on our itinerary.  We make sure to take a potty break shortly after. We've learned where clean bathrooms consistently are, and where to avoid.  I usually have Jayme wait with Sydney and Owen while I take Jeff, Ellie and Simon in.  Then Jayme goes when we are done.  I handle diaper changes in the back of the Suburban for all three kids who need them.  Time consuming, yes--but definitely manageable. We park in a spot with a garbage can easily accessible--Wal-Marts are good for this!

Lunch occurs in the car, unless the  weather is decent enough to eat in a park.  It's handled the same as snacks, only with more food. The kids love having their own lunchboxes!  They usually save part of their lunch for on the way home.  (If the weather is cool enough or the food not perishable.)

We finish our shopping and hopefully fit in a park or Mobius before picking up Bryan and heading home to unload all the groceries.  Our afternoon snack (usually cookies!) is passed out. 

Occasionally Bryan will need to go to a store or two, so we continue our shopping expedition with Daddy.  That's a lot more fun!  He can even skate on two carts going through the parking lot! I haven't been brave enough to try that yet, much to the kids' disappointment.

Shopping is a tiring day, but very worthwhile.  We usually sing on the way home.  What a great way to end a productive day! 

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