Shopping with Kids
Christ alive, I'll never truly understand why I self-inflict the trauma of going shopping with my kids when I know how it plays out.
I've been bumbling through the role of parent for THREE YEARS and the only thing that has really changed in that time is that I have created a second small human to take with me. I bloody know. And yet still I embark on these adventures.
With a pram loaded to the max with snacks for the toddler and Lamaze toys for the baby (plus said baby in the pram and toddler clutching one hand), I leave the house feeling optimistic and smug. We are all dressed before midday (winning), nobody is crying (yet) and we are off out.
We're not talking about the supermarket Big Shop here (also hell with kids, but kind of essential). We're talking about clothes shopping. Shopping shopping. 'Going up town.' The fun kind of shopping you once enjoyed on a Saturday afternoon when you had time to browse, try stuff on and then buy a dress from Topshop, plus a peel-off face mask and new nail varnish from Superdrug because you had a social life to dress for).
With kids in tow, the more likely turn of events is something altogether different. Something more akin to the last time I attempted this misery, when we didn't even get to the first shop before The Toddler needed a wee.
We then sprinted (not easy with pram plus three-year-old on foot) straight to M&S to make use of the facilities. Which are always on the top floor, meaning you have to queue behind Wednesday morning shoppers with mobility scooters and walking frames who are also waiting for the lift.
Mission toddler-wee accomplished, we exited the toilets and it dawned on me that I now had only thirty minutes before the baby would be due his next feed. Spying the M&S café on the other side of the third floor, I begrudgingly headed over and bought a fruit smoothie bottle for an extortionate £2.60. This at least meant we could legitimately set up camp in the café and sort out the baby's bottle whilst the toddler ate one of the fifteen snacks I had packed in the change bag.
Finally clear of M&S (an hour later), we headed to John Lewis - our first proper shop (and, incidentally, our last). The Toddler ran riot, 'flying' with arms outstretched between clothing sections, cutting up middle-class shoppers who voiced their disapproval by tutting. I started trying to regain control in a very measured Supermum voice 'we don't run off darling, come here please'... but after chasing him through the furniture and lighting I started yelling 'FOR GOD'S SAKE COME BACK HERE OR YOU WON'T HAVE ANY MORE SNACKS OR THE iPAD' allowing bystanders to witness the true Jeremy Kyle nature of my parenting.
We were, by this stage, at the onset of an I'm-going-to-be-an-arse tantrum which true to form culminated in him lying down on the floor of the lift. At the exact same point the baby decided to wake from his ten-minute nap and cry. Such was the circus of my family that when the lift stopped at the second floor, Mr and Mrs shopping-without-any-kids who had called the lift down decided to wait for another. So proud. We left John Lewis without having looked at a single item.
I had set my sights on further shops to 'nip into.' Next, GAP, H&M, Zara ... but you simply do not ‘nip’ anywhere with small children. Yet again, it was not to be.
Having resigned myself to the fact we would head home (and after muttering 'fucking kids, fucking waste of fucking time' under my breath), the baby did a poo. Through his suit. Fucking fuckety hell shit and arse. So, I angrily marched (as best as one can march while pushing a pram and dragging a sulking toddler) back to M&S to change the nappy. And the babygro. And the vest.
And then we went home. And put Peppa sodding Pig on. And I sat with PTSD (Post Traumatic Shopping Disorder) and vowed never again.
Perhaps the most tragic conclusion to this shopping adventure was that when I became lucky enough to shop alone for a few hours the following weekend, it was largely disappointing. Firstly, nothing fits. I needed a new swimming costume and even the navy 'tummy control panel' suit made me feel like Moby Dick. Secondly, I felt on edge – I appear to have completely lost the ability to browse because I have trained myself that I live on borrowed time, even when there is no rush.
And lastly, I ended up in Baby Gap and H&M buying outfits for the kids.
Because tantrums and crying and shitty babygros aside, I love the little buggers.