Thursday, February 10, 2011

Line Up by the Van

I realized last night that I completely forgot to talk about one of the most helpful strategies I used to employ when shopping by myself with several young children.

One area of concern facing mothers of lots of littles is how to safely get everyone out of the car or van.  You don't want little ones jumping out of the van and darting into traffic, while you are fiddling with the baby's carseat.  So, I trained all of my young children to "line up beside the van" every time we parked somewhere.  So, while I was gathering my purse, the diaper bag, my shopping list, my cell phone (strike the cell phone -- this was back in the old days before everyone had a cell phone!!), and getting the baby out of the carseat, the children would exit the van and all line up along the passenger side of the van until I was ready.  (It was actually quite cute -- wish I had a picture!)  Then, I grabbed a hand or two, and instructed everyone to grab a buddy, meaning each older child held hands with a younger child untiil we all arrived safely into the store.

Once in the store, my method for handling the madness was covered in my last post.

It is also helpful to have a strategy for returning to the van after a shopping trip.  The ideal situation is when the bag boy takes out your groceries for you, puts them in the back of the van, and returns the cart to the store, leaving you with nothing to worry about except getting all of the children buckled back into their carseats.  For a mom struggling with many little ones, it might be worth it to only shop at stores where there is complimentary carry out service. 

When carrying out my own groceries, I made sure to get the children safely buckled into the van first.  Once I had some older children, they were instructed to help the younger children into the van and get them buckled up, while I put the groceries in the back.  Then, I would lock the car, making sure I had the keys in my hand, while I quickly put the cart away.  To make this easier and safer, I learned to always look for a parking spot near a cart return.

I also wanted to add to my previous post on grocery shopping that there is nothing wrong with a mother utilizing help from her husband or mother, so that she is freed up to do her weekly shopping alone.  It can be a nice break for her, and a lot less stressful!  However, in my case, my husband worked long hours and I didn't live close enough to my mom for her to watch the children every time I went shopping or to the doctor.  So, I learned to manage all necessary errands by myself.  In retrospect, that was a good thing.  For one thing, I know it can be done, and I am now able to encourage other young mothers who are facing the same dilemma.  Furthermore, it forced me to train my children how to behave during such excursions.  At one point in recent years, I remember being shocked when I realized that my youngest children didn't know about lining up by the van and had not been well trained in proper store behavior!  That was because they primarily stayed home with an older sibling while I did the shopping!!  So, be thankful for these opportunities to train your young children and to build character (yours and theirs)!!


Mrs. Stam said...

So far we have 3 little one under 4 and I haven't been shopping munch, one because we only have 1 van and my husband drives it to work, he works long hours too leaving me barefoot... so I sent him the list on things to pick up in town, grocery, etc... I and the kids only go to church on Sunday, that is our only outing so my husband grab 2 girls I have the other one and off we go :-) I have a extra arm so we can be ready for when the Lord bless us with baby #4 :-)

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth! This is so practical and helpful. Now maybe these young mamas won't have to learn by trial and error, like we did :)

I have a suggestion about shopping with little ones, but first I'm going to back to read your older posts to make sure it's not redundant.

Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen said...

OK, not sure why my comment above came out as anonymous. You know I want full credit for my comment! I'm trying again...

Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen said...

OK, I'm back :)
I didn't see this on your list, but whenever I would shop at a place with no cart, I would have the two youngest hold my hands, and the next two (or 3 if my skirt was full enough...) hang on to my skirt as we walked. They can only get so far from you while holding on to the skirt...and you can teach them to do this almost as soon as they can walk. I remember many days of practicing at home, while walking from room to room, before we trusted them to be faithful while we were out.

this especially works well in parking lots.

Fun days :) I almost miss them.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice! I remember having some of the same struggles until they were trained as well. Since I only had 4 children, my way to manage them in the store was to have them all put one hand on the cart. Of course the baby/toddler got to ride in the cart seat, but the others had to have their hand on the buggy at all times. It worked well going outside with the groceries too. Of course, now they have these nifty carts that allow you to load up 2 or 3 for a ride, but one can manage with a regular cart as well. As our children got older, I purchased the Grocery Cart Math booklet, which allowed for copies to be made, and used those sheets to help our children learn how to comparison shop. That kept them from being too bored while I was shopping! My 25 year old son, always looks for the best deals now.... :)
~~Tammy in Graceville, FL ~~

Samantha said...

We get lots of looks, but usually ones that seem approving, rather than "Are you crazy?" when our train goes through the line. We always go as a family.

Donna G. said...

I only had half as many kids as you did, but I still look back sometimes and wonder how I did it all. Love the line-up-by-the-van method of unloading! =)

My problem wasn't unloading. It was remembering to load up everyone I had with me when I was going home. :-/

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