(Originally posted on the Inbuggering Diaries as “The one with the second part to Grocery Shopping – Dutch Style … Enter the Toddlers” )

Way back in 2012 I wrote about my adventures grocery shopping (If you’re interested, it’s here). 3 years, and 2 kids later – I thought I’d update.

Fundamentally, the process hasn’t changed. It’s still a game of tetris, it’s still to each their own and may the best shopper win.  That part will forever stay the same. I’ve learned that Hamstereen is like a suicide mission – head down, and head straight for the products you need.  Don’t look anyone in the eye and don’t forget to sharpen your elbows …

However, a new skill was recently thrown into the equation.  With the addition of 2 small, independent persons to our family, everything must now be done with a small entourage. (Sadly, not a cheer squad. Think more Waldorf and Statler.)

Shopping with toddlers (as any parent will testify) is basically trying to walk through a narrow passageway with all sorts of breakable, desirable items at waist height with an uncontrollable hyperactive 60 armed octopus that thinks it’s a helicopter strapped into a buggy, screeching it’s desires and wailing because it wants what’s on the shelf, or wanting to escape it’s bindings in order to start throwing things around and racing up and down aisles. Multiply that thought by 2.  Add in the fact your pram is twice as wide as the normal and the aisles are really narrow and you’re pretty close to hell.

Let’s start with the basics.  I go to 2 supermarkets locally – one about a 10 minute walk from my house and the other about 15 minutes.  One could argue that it’s customer loyalty, but in reality, the only reason I go to these 2 is because I know I fit through the aisle and the checkout.  (We won’t discuss the time I went to a certain ‘budget’ supermarket and got stuck in their alleged ‘extra wide’ checkout. And it wasn’t even my backside!). Now, every new supermarket requires a reconnaissance mission, checking width of aisle, positioning of marketing stands, width of checkouts, location of sweets and chips aisles and the proximity of smashables and consumables to stroller reach,  conducted generally around 9pm at night when our precious darlings are sleeping (or at least confined to their rooms) and I have reinforcements at home.  After it passes all tests, it is safe to visit.  (Please note, this test also applies to pharmacies, clothing stores, department stores … pretty much everywhere).

The challenge? Purchase milk, bread, vegetables and other staples without causing any international incidents or doubling your budget because of damages. Your weapons?  A double stroller containing belligerent toddlers, a bag of random cookies, 2 toys, and 2 sippy cups.

Upon entry to the supermarket, ply your offspring with a cookie each. Ensure that there is a toy and sippy cup for each within reach.  Place feet firmly on footrests. (Generally these are either waving in the air or hooked over the side of the buggy).  Fervently beg them to behave so we can get in and out in under 30 minutes, so mama’s bus card registers this as a stopover, rather than a seperate trip.  Replace sippy cup that was thrown out in protest and stop them kicking each other.  Attempt to go through gate to store, and swiftly u-turn because you forgot a basket.  Place basket on sun hood of buggy, replace cookie that was thrown on floor.  Attempt to go through gate but are stopped by a foot over the side of the pram.  Remove basket, pull back sun hood, place foot inside buggy and push into store simultaneously. Put sun hood back in place and replace basket.

First stop – vegetables.  Congratulate yourself on swiftly fulfilling this part of the experience as all items were out of reach, and also the small people were entertained by a free sample of seasonal fruit happily provided by store staff. Wonder how the f*** you’ll get the stains out later.  Replace toy in pram.  Replace sippy cup.   Smile sweetly at the dear old lady who stops you and tells you the story of how her doctor’s husband’s cousin’s cleaner had twins.  Answer standard questions, whilst giving yet another cookie and replacing random toys tossed out of the cart.  Say goodbye and continue to next destination – the meat aisle. Convince one toddler that stealing and eating a salami is not a good idea. Place foot back in pram.  Find suitable meat product for dinner and place in basket, along with a half chewed salami.  Smile nicely at the deli lady who asks if they’re hungry and offers them sausage.  Take sausage, remove cookies, replace thrown sippy cups .. wait, there’s only one … race back to vegetable section and retrieve cup, come back, place all feet back inside pram, put shoes back on and proceed.  Yes, they’re twins. 19 months old. Yes, they’re identical.  No, they don’t look exactly alike. They had problems before they were born.  Yes, they’re natural. No, we don’t have twins in our family. How interesting that your neighbour’s best friend’s cousin’s beautician is a twin.  Ok, bye bye.

Replace toys in pram and hand back cookies.  Replace feet. Sigh loudly.  Check list.  Seriously, 20 minutes into this trip and I have only 2 items on my list and a half chewed salami???  Yes thank you, they would like a cheese sample.  Yes, they are twins.  19 months.  Yes, I did breastfeed them.  Yes, it is busy in my house.  You always wanted twins? Fabulous – would you like these ones? Put both feet back into the pram and collect sippy cups.   Grab first loaf of bread off the shelf and continue to the milk.  WHO THE HELL PUT THAT DISPLAY OF STUFFED ANIMALS THERE?? Remove assorted toys from children.  Realise that everyone is staring at you because both your children are melting down and screaming over a giant black plush spider, a snake, and a crocodile.  Oh, who cares, throw them, the sippy cups, their own toys, the cookies back into the pram and take the shoes and stow them under the pram.  Replace all feet.  How did you get that pack of raisin bread and why are you eating it?? Add half chewed raisin bread to basket.

Check watch.  Guess we won’t be getting the bus at half past.  Oh, how interesting. Your teacher’s podiatrist’s tarot card reader’s holistic healer is a twin.  Yes, they’re identical. Yes, completely natural. Yes, it was a surprise. Yes, a caesarean section at 31 weeks. Yes, that is early. Yes, breastfed.  Sweetie, feet in the pram. NOW.  Why does the spider have cheese smooshed into it’s face?  Pick up sippy cup.  Realise you have run out of cookies and dash to cookie aisle.  Grab several packs, realise you still haven’t gotten bloody milk and race back.  Slip on half chewed cookie.  Glare at the person trying to make eye contact and grab the last container of milk in the store.  Make a beeline for the checkout.  OH MY FREAKING GOD, Where did you get a chocolate bar from? Why is everything in the pram covered in chocolate??

 Reload everything back into the pram. Place half eaten chocolate bar into basket and start back towards the checkout.  How interesting! Your son’s workmate’s dentist’s monkey’s veterinarian’s husband’s social worker is a twin?  Yes, they’re natural. Yes, it’s busy. Oh seriously, see that little old lady over there? With the deli woman and the guy in the purple shirt? Ask them – they know the story.  Race towards the checkout.  Unload onto conveyor belt.  Ok,  veges, meat, half chewed salami, bread, opened pack of raisin bread … yes, I’m aware the packet’s open, would you like a wipe for your hands after handling that salami? … PUT YOUR DAMNED FEED DOWN! … no, sorry, not you, her.  Milk, chocolate bar – yeah, I know that’s open too.  Another wipe? Here you are.  Oh, shit, don’t forget these … cheesy spider, chocolate snake and crocodile … can you scan those now please?  Thanks. Yes, they can scream loud. Especially when fueled by pilfered salami, bread and chocolate.  Please, really, just scan the spider. NOW.  I’m desperate.  Here, don’t throw the sippy cup out of the pram.  Look, here’s the spider. TAKE THE SPIDER NOW.  Oh, the cookies – please, scan those too.  Here, have a cookie.  Replace spider in pram.  Toss all stuffed toys into pram and take out payment device.  HOW MUCH?? Insert card into payment device, take groceries and leave store.   Get halfway to busstop, stopping intermittently to replace spider, snake, crocodile, sippy cup etc.  Finally get into bus and get halfway home … only to realise you forgot the butter.  Sob hysterically.

Planned Groceries: €10

Unplanned Groceries : €15

Stuffed Animals: €20

Losing your sanity at the supermarket?  Priceless. Total shopping time: 65 minutes

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