Some more, please: Trolley time and strategies for keeping the peace

The toddler gives the cheerful woman at the Woolies check-out a suspicious look.

As the unsuspecting woman reaches for the yoghurt, the toddler couples the look with an ear-splitting scream that leaves us both red-faced (her from the performance, me from embarrassment).

There’s nothing quite like shopping with the toddler – as often as possible I trick her father into staying with her while I wander up and down the aisles, luxuriating in the freedom of feeling up the produce.

Usually I have to stick to the familiar, which I can chuck speedily into the trolley as I count down to the meltdown I know is coming.

The art is in getting through the check-out, wrestling with the dreaded pre-payment parking thingy and get back to the car before this happens.

Usually my time’s up while I am dithering over whether to buy pork or chicken sausages. Or worse, in the queue in front of a person who has either forgotten or has never experienced the T-A-N-T-R-U-M.

I do find though sometimes getting the toddler to help with the shopping holds the meltdown off. The trouble with this method of shopping is that she chucks everything you hand her into the trolley with a sickening THWUMP.

The apples get bruised, the broccoli is concussed by the washing liquid and the milk ends up bottoms up. Don’t hand her the eggs!

The other thing – which I read in one of the thousand or so helpful but smug books I’ve read – is to always write a shopping list. This way the toddler realises that you don’t just willy nilly grab anything you want off the shelf – instead you have a grand feeding plan for the family.

An excellent idea because it teaches the toddler not to grab stuff off the shelves either. Hard to execute though if, like me, you have a pretty good idea of what you might want to cook for the family but are easily swayed by two-for-the-price-of-one promises and weird imported mushrooms you have no idea what to do with – yet.

So, in short, when I don’t have the wherewithal to make a time efficient list and I have to take the toddler with me I either appeal to the toddler’s helpful gene (which she may capriciously turn off at any time) or I open up a punnet of strawberries/a box of ready-cooked sausages/a packet of crisps on our way around the store.

The other last-ditch deal for peace is to let her hold something she loves – which brings us back to the poor woman trying to ring up the yoghurt.

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