How (Not) to Do the Supermarket With Toddlers

retail-1424043_1920Planning on navigating the supermarket with multiple toddlers? Read this handy guide first to ensure that you do not do it wrong. It would be embarrassing to do it wrong.

1. Be on foot with the pushchair, ensuring a trolley cannot be obtained. Pick up a basket.

2. Both toddlers will want to come out of the pushchair. This is not viable. Choose between two crying toddlers in the pushchair, or one crying toddler in the pushchair and one running free in the supermarket. In the latter case, there will still be two people crying, but the other one will be you.

3. If you have allowed one toddler to walk, spend a considerable amount of time explaining that she cannot carry a basket that is only marginally smaller than she is. She will be unable to grasp this concept. Hand her the basket in order to let her learn for herself. She will still be unable to grasp the concept. Pick up toddler from floor and untangle her from basket.

4. Realise that the pushchair containing the remaining toddler has been left within reach of the shelves. Remove five packets of fish food from toddler’s lap. Explain to now screaming toddler that the fish food was not biccys. Additionally explain – to even louder screams – that, no, she can’t get out of the pushchair.

5. Tell the free toddler to put down what she has picked up from the shelves whilst fish food was being removed from the captive toddler. Tell her that this instruction was not to enable her to have her hands free to pick something up from the next shelf.

6. Attempt to begin the actual shopping. Abandon it when the free toddler makes a break down the aisle. Attempt to catch the runaway toddler despite being hindered by running with a pushchair. Briefly consider whether leaving the pushchair in order to chase the now vanished running toddler would be acceptable. How likely is it that anyone would take the toddler in the chair? Appraise her. She is howling and trying to eat fish food. Conclude that it is probably not very likely, but that, having already misplaced one toddler, the correct protocol is certainly to keep hold of the one you still have. To misquote Oscar Wilde: ‘To lose one toddler may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’

7. Catch errant toddler and threaten her with pushchair if she tries to run off again. The toddler will be unable to hear this threat as she is too busy running off again.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7. At this point, there are two options. The first is to force the runaway toddler into the pushchair, where she will join her sibling in howling. This will cause you to consider abandoning the shopping. But you really do need milk. The second is to create a ‘fun’ (and time consuming) game, involving the toddler searching for the shopping items and putting them in the basket. This will cause you to consider abandoning the shopping. But you really do need milk.

9. Juggling an increasingly heavy basket, a pushchair and an out of control toddler, contemplate how far away the milk, situated at the far end of the shop, is. Realise that, having made it to the milk, the entire length of the shop has to be navigated again to reach the tills. Decide that you do not really need milk. Head for the tills. Realise that nothing in your basket is as important as the milk you have decided not to bother to get, and therefore the whole shop could have been skipped. Nonetheless, having come this far, you are now buying the damn shopping. Except milk. Nothing is worth going to the other end of the shop.

10. Begin scanning items at the self service checkout. There will be a delay caused by an unexpected toddler in the bagging area. You will wonder why this is unexpected to the bagging area. It is quite predictable. It happens every time. The bagging area has a short memory. Wrestle toddler from bagging area into pushchair. Assure other toddler that she is not now getting out instead. Placate both for this injustice with promises of biccys/fish food as soon as the shopping is paid for.


  1. You totally forgot: issue Time out in the middle of the vegetable section where you sit toddler on the floor next to the onions where she has a tantrum and you tell everyone around you staring at you, “Yeah, that’s right, she’s in time out!”

  2. Linda Hobden says:

    I remember food shopping with toddlers in tow very well – I only now have begun to venture into supermarkets without having a panic attack! I must admit online grocery shopping is a godsend – after years of struggling with toddler tantrums trying to keep tabs on free range children too big to be restrained in a pushchair I eventually succombed to the lure of the net. ?

  3. Ha ha! I remember the days when it took a whole lot of strategizing to do simple things like grocery shop. ?? Now I have teens (boys), so aside from the fact that they eat everything, I can always count on them to behave in the grocery store and even carry the groceries! Life is good!

  4. Lori says:

    You brought me right back to those days. You wonder if you will ever survive? Let me assure you, you will. There will, however, remain some post traumatic stress from grocery shopping with your toddlers.

  5. Kate says:

    I had baby and toddler sat in double trolley at the weekend. Some how the baby managed to swipe a whole shelf of instant meals into the trolley :/ I try and stick to online shopping too! #KCACOLS

  6. Oh god. Yes, I know all these scenarios very well…
    Brilliant writing as always.
    My friends little girl is an expert shoplifter. She has been since 18 months old. The latest heist was a bottle of shower gel… (Don’t worry, mum returned it when she noticed)
    A fate worse than waterboarding, shopping with Toddlers is…

  7. Funny and true, as always! It is a trial, but I am far too much of a control freak for online grocery shopping! We are at the stage now where all four foot of Jet insists in going in the trolley, whilst Stella (much more suitably proportioned for trolley-riding) flatly refuses to get in.
    x Alice

  8. Beta Mummy says:

    First rule of going shopping with toddlers: don’t go shopping with toddlers! I did a post on this myself a while back, I find it a complete nightmare. I now do online shopping – much easier although the terrors do insist on helping me put it all away…
    Thanks for linking up with #chucklemums x

  9. Rosemond says:

    My favorite part of grocery shopping with a toddler was the juggling a squirmy child while balancing loads of groceries and still trying to get what you need. I hated grocery shopping and am still scarred to this day!

  10. Cat says:

    Written brilliantly. Think you may have improved upon Oscar Wilde’s original.
    We bribe the eldest the entire way around the shop, We’re forever trading in items for the next “I want X”, “Ok, but you’ll have to put back Y”… all goes back for the ‘Surprise egg’ at the end. Phew!

  11. All of this. Literally all of this. Most notably the basket carrying toddler. YOU CANNOT LIFT IT! Idiot child. Gah – I can just about trick the baby into staying asleep round Sainsbury’s but the toddler thinks she owns the joint. Thanks for linking with #chucklemums!

  12. I recently took a 4-year grandson shopping and he was very well behaved and agreed to sit in the shopping cart. Unfortunately when I tried to lift him out, he was so heavy and long legged I couldn’t stretch my 5’2″ frame tall enough to clear his legs from the cart. I was nearly ready to ask a tall stranger to assist, when I wrangled him out. We both agreed that next time he will have to run free. Hahaha. Loved your story.

  13. mumof3 says:

    Love this! And can definitely relate to it. Although I’m often not brave enough to let one toddler go free-range. Nope. Not yet anyway. They are both confined to the pushchair while I scuttle around the shop at high speed trying not to crash into anyone while hurling things randomly into a basket before they start really kicking off. But doing it too quickly means something always gets forgotten. Do we go back? Nope. Never go back. Until the next time. #KCACOLS

  14. I tried shopping once with the kids and realised nothing is ever worth a trip to the supermarket with kids. I don’t even like shopping myself, so I think I’ll pass on this one. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  15. Ok I struggle with one and a basket, let alone two! Crazy times. I’m quite lucky my daughter is flipping lazy and loves the trolley so shopping is usually fine (part from she sings loudly all the way around!!) Maybe online shopping?? Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  16. so, so funny and apt. I really miss the pushchair even though I did crash into people/isles it helped me keep order. Now it is just crazy times trying to not let my boy grab every piece of item in eye-view X #twinklytuesday

  17. Janet says:

    I do not miss the days of toddler tantrums in the supermarket. Now I seem to get older children tantrums but I can deal with that better – I just rarely take them shoppinIg or get my shopping delivered lol. I remember leaving supermarkets in a huge sweat when my eldest 2 were young. My four year old is still a handful in the supermarket so I have to set down clear rules before we go in! Usually it’s be good or no sweets!

    Great post! #BloggerClubUK


  18. Yes this sounds like us! My two year old is a nightmare when we go shopping and is the one who must be contained in the buggy or trolley or I might aswell skip the whole thing 🙂 he always goes for the fresh bread in the bakery section which means I end ups buying lots of random bread rolls! #brilliantblogposts

  19. I reply to your very funny post (not so funny for you…)
    Step 1 Book a slot with Ocado
    Step 2. Put the kettle on
    Step 3 Select shopping
    Step 4 Pay and high five yourself for not having to take two toddlers to the supermarket
    🙂 Alisonx #stayclassymama

  20. I am so happy Baba is still a baby and all he does is checking out the aisles while sucking his dummy. Then after 5 minutes, it’s getting too much and he falls asleep. Bliss. are you any jealous ? LOL Sorry, could not resist… #FridayFrolics

  21. Kaye says:

    Omg yes, we never seem to learn either. Just keep child on the trolley no matter what! The Mr always gets him out and chaos ensues!! #fridayfrolics

  22. This sounds SO familiar, except I’ve only ever attempted a supermarket shop with one toddler, not two. The Popple loves the supermarket, but doing any actual shopping with her is impossible. She’s constantly running away, pulling things off the shelves, taking things out of the basket and trying to eat produce. I don’t know why I keep taking her to the shop with me, because I always have to end the shop early without half the things I intended to buy. #FridayFrolics

  23. James Hopes says:

    Some days our toddler will be OK in the trolley. Some days he will be OK in the pram. Some days he will be OK walking around. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing which of these 3 options is the correct one for the day in question until it is too late.

  24. Back with #FridayFrolics and instead of the sage advice I left you with before, just lots of sympathy. Teenagers are also an absolute nightmare in Supermarkets. They are just as demanding. I avoid supermarket shopping with the girls even more now than when they were strapped in to a trolley! Alison x

  25. Oh yes, an unexpected toddler in the bagging area! Like you say, the till really should have another line for this. “I see your child is fiddling with the items in your bag that you wish to purchase. This is an expected toddler activity in the bagging area!”. Now I have tweenagers I find they get supermarket mania and run about like lunatics (however banning screen time for the rest of their life usually calms them down!). #fridayfrolics

  26. Min says:

    I’m glad I read this. I thought it was just me who had an out of control toddler in the supermarket on a regular basis, and I only have one, so only need to balance the toddler, pushchair (if using. I have recently embarked on the folly that is going shopping without it), shopping and whatever luggage I am carrying. #FridayFrolics

  27. Hilarious! I love the Oscar Wilde quote haha. And that bagging area has so much to answer for! With or without toddlers it’s usually quite surprised to find items there – even when it told you to put them there!
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

  28. I rarely attempt a supermarket shop alone with my toddler, and I only have one! You are much braver than me. Last time – and only because I was only going to buy a couple of things (which turned out to be about 20, obviously!) – she delighted in peeling the stickers off the fruit and sticking them all over her hands. I knew better than to fight it – hey, she was saving other people the trouble of removing the stickers from their fruit, wasn’t she? I normally stick to the small local shops, it’s easier. #BloggerClubUK

  29. Emma says:

    Haha, I hate shopping with my two! Threenager likes to use the supermarket shop to express herself artistically. This means leaving teeth marks in the carrots. Oldest likes to demand magazines all the way round the shop. It is such fun – NOT #FridayFrolics

  30. JerseyGirl says:

    Oh dear I hear your pain but this did make me laugh out loud. my nephew had a melt down right in the middle of the supermarket and I didn’t know where to hide. Apparently the Pippa pig magazine was a matter of life and death! #FridayFrolics

  31. THis is why I have the Tesco man deliver my shopping to me on a Friday night! There is nothing more exciting than it arriving and knowing that I have’t had to struggle round the supermarket! We stopped going about a year ago when Zach started to hate it (aka no longer wanted to go in the trolley!). Only ever pop to the shops across the road for anything we couldn’t get! That is enough in itself! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  32. This really made me laugh! Shoppign with toddlers goes one of two ways, perfectly and you feel incredibly smug about your well-behaved littles. Or terribly and you end up saying loudly (so everyone hears not just your kids) that you don’t know why you ever bother taking them shopping. I had to laugh reading this. I’m at a point now where I just let them carry on with it, if they want to hold the basket, fine, sit in the trolley, fine, carry 2 large bottles of milk, fine. If there’s any whineing I just ignore it through gritted teeth. You’re right though, I rarely enter a supermarket with a pushchair. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!

  33. Shopping with NG was surprisingly calm yesterday until I realised she had snaffled a pack of neon pens. We left the shop and it was only then that I discovered it so we ran back in and I made her put them back on the shelf. THEN the meltdown ensued… you did well not to experience shoplifting! #FridayFrolics

  34. SARAH ASLETT says:

    Oh god the supermarket with my toddler is soooo stressful. Its either running around chasing after him or trying to contain him in the trolley without getting all the food squashed! Great post thanks for linking up #StayClassyMama

  35. Ha ha! Well at least this has made me feel like I’m not the only one! Oldest is at least now responsible enough to be trusted to not ‘swipe’ but am waiting for the day when youngest starts this trick! Online shopping, or shopping alone is increasingly preferable to me! x

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