We need bread, milk and a tanker full of wine

I think any of you with small children or grumpy partners will empathise with this scenario. Children, because any kind of shopping is painful, lengthy and nine times out of ten excruciatingly embarrassing, grumpy partner because, well, my husband is probably no better. In the 12 years we’ve been together, I have lost count of the amount of times my other half has thrown a full grown toddler tantrum about being dragged to the shops, having to buy something he doesn’t want or me generally ‘changing the goal posts’ and him shouting an almighty, loud ‘it’s so unfair!’ in the direction of anyone who will listen. On the occasions where I have had to take all four of them at the same time, I’ve embarked on enough tough negotiation to qualify as a UN peacekeeper.

“I’ll come, if we go in no more than four shops.” “But we need shoes for the children, a birthday present, something for tea –“ “I’m already getting stressed!” “All you need to do is push the buggy, split up any fights and pay at the till.” “I have to do all that and I’m paying?!

So we already leave the house full of positivity, bounding with enthusiasm and ready for a painless experience. It’s a bit like watching an episode of Casualty – you know disaster is going to befall one of us imminently, but place your bets as to which one of gets the hammer through the head first.

The list

Much controversy surrounds the list, as quite often I will have spent the last 45 minutes before leaving the house, walking about carrying a scruffy envelope and a Peppa Pig crayon, muttering to myself, opening cupboard doors, looking inside, counting, closing doors, nodding to myself and shushing people who try and avert my attention. Sometimes I do a second draft of the list on a second scruffy envelope and place the items in the order of which they appear in the supermarket. That’s usually reserved for a special send-husband-on-his-own trip or at Christmas. Just in case you didn’t see this coming, I forget the list – every time.

The trolley

It’s broken – that’s a given isn’t it? But I somehow manage to couple that brake-broken dragging with the delight of one of the children sat in the trolley seat giving me electric shocks to rival a punishment from the Hunger Games arena, approximately every 30 seconds – followed by hysterical laughter. Also, many of the cheaper supermarkets have no seatbelts – enter acrobat baby. She stands, she climbs, she reaches for things off the shelf to drop and shouts proudly ‘uh oh!’ Also, the trolley can be used, by older children, as a weapon. Refuse to give in to the demands of toddler rage? I’ll just lie down rigid in front of the trolley for a little while here. Busy aisle? I’ll throw in a couple of stranger ankle kicks for free.

The shopping

The approach to this is different with all three children

Five year old: We don’t like broccoli, when will the broccoli be fed to us? Will the broccoli have to be eaten completely? I will only eat four mouthfuls of broccoli, and only if we have that ice cream afterwards.

Two year old: I want the drinks with Frozen on them.


I want the drinks with Frozen on them.


I want the drinks with Frozen on them.


I want the drinks with Frozen on them.


I want the drinks with Frozen on them.


I want the drinks with Frozen on them.


… I won’t eat my broccoli until we have the drinks with Frozen on them.

One year old: (Sees desired item) MEEEEEEEEE! (and repeat until desired item is in hand)

The till

You’re nearly there! You have some kind of nutritional fodder hidden in and amongst all the food items brandishing cartoon characters. In rooting around in your bag for your keys and purse you find the list and realise all of the things that you have forgotten. If the queue is long enough sometimes at this point you could send someone off to get missing items – not a strategy I favour due to my husband and eldest son’s inability to find the nose on their own face. By this point, the children divide themselves into one of the two following categories:

The helpers: Let’s ‘help’ put the shopping on the conveyer belt. Goodbye eggs, so long milk, hello man with giant kitchen roll, mop and weary expression… Hi, us again.

The saboteurs: These little lovelies will

  1. Repeat rigid protest on the floor, in front of the trolley.
  2. Stand up in trolley seat with rigid legs and refuse to sit down.
  3. Scream
  4. Chase siblings.
  5. Throw carrier bags far and wide.

Finally, when the job is done, the shopping packed, the children have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re going home.

This is when you discover your purse is still on the kitchen table. And then…only then, does it get interesting.



  1. Great stuff, I can so relate! Thanks for liking my post yesterday – glad you did as it led me here to your very entertaining stories. I’ll be following for more now. I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit – not only are our kids similar ages (except, I cheated and skipped the middle one), but we started blogging at around the same time. Hope you find it as cathartic as I do! 🙂


    • Ah this is so nice to hear… united in chaos! I’m hooked on it already. I also have had a nosy at your blog and heartily chuckled my way through a testing 4am wake up today – thank you! Tuesdays are just wonderful…


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