The Nightmare Shop

I have to admit, I have been lucky. Since moving I have had to shop weekly for a household of 7 – 8 people on my own with three children, where once James and I would go together, with children in tow, on a weekend.

We have a nice rhythm, my Munchies and I. As long as we’ve left the house by 9am, all goes smoothly and I do my shop with happy, helpful and delightful children.

There is always one mum wrangling a tantruming toddler or trying to console an unsettled baby and while I don’t judge I am the mum walking around contentedly, gushing when people tell me how well they’re behaving and smiling politely when I hear the obligatory “You must have your hands full!”

Well, I was that mum. Until this week’s shop. Everything started out fine, just the same as normal. I popped Jasper in the trolly and moved into the fruit and veg department only to have all hell break loose.

I don’t even know what set it off, but as Kahlei and I put apples in a bag Ellie started on the whinging and then the crying and then some screaming; just for good measure. My normal, gentle words of “No, darling, not today.” and occasional “Watch where you’re going” warnings turned into “This is ridiculous!” and “This is completely unacceptable behaviour!” All the while I wanted to pull my hair out. Literally.

As our shop progressed, it was obvious she wasn’t going to calm down. I would love to say I gave her a warning and then left but knowing that I would have to do the shop with them at another time made me stay away from threatening leaving, even though I could feel other shoppers looking at us.

Even though I passed that damn calm mother with her perfect children in every single aisle. And I felt judged. She wouldn’t made eye contact, surely that was a sign of judgement? A little paranoia added to the situation, why not?

I carried her, my almost 4 year old, as I pushed the baby in the trolly with my hip and right hand and tried to keep my eye on Kahlei who had taken her sister’s lead and gone a bit feral, touching everything and running out of sight or just plain running into people.

It was horrendous and I kept thinking; am I that SMUG? every time I passed that mother. I’ve never gone out of my way to avoid the mother of a tantruming child, I like to make eye contact and give a little nod that say I’ve been there. You’re not alone. But, is that how I am being perceived?

It was certainly an eye opener. One I would prefer I didn’t have to suffer through, in all honesty, but one I survived and learnt from.

I’m just hoping it’s not a lesson I will be learning again soon.

So, I want to know; when you’re having a rough outing what do you want other mothers to do? Ignore you? Acknowledge you? Step in and offer unsolicited advice?

What do you do to avoid/counteract the shopping meltdown?


  1. Guess what? They are not judging you. They are doing their shopping with a hundred things running through their heads…remember the sour cream, bananas too dear, don’t really want to buy two but that is cheaper, thank fuck the kids are ok right now, let’s get out of here before they get hungry and start eating the expensive biscuits that I want for visitors on Tuesday. Shit, do we need more washing detergent or not, should I just get it anyway or should I wait til next weeks pay comes in….

    maybe it is just me, but I truly think most of us don’t hear other kids carry on. As long as we don’t have to deal with it then we just get on with what we need to do.

    But, if another mum asked for help you can bet that another mum would give it.

    • To be honest, I felt judged, yes but I was pretty sure that was a little Mummy Guilt going on but you’re so right – she had other things on her mind, just like when I shop and things are smooth.

      And I agree, another mum would help in a heartbeat if asked.

  2. I think we’ve all been there Becky and it sucks. As a mum passing another that is having “one of those days” I give that little smile, the one that says Been there, know the hell our going through right now and good on you for keeping your shit together ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel more awkward when I’m witnessing another mum going through this and I don’t have my kids…. it’s then I don’t know whether to look, smile, pretend I don’t see through fear the poor Mum will feel judged.
    Proud of you for making it through that shop xox

    • Thanks x
      I have the same thing when I am childless. I wonder if they will see me as an annoyed shopper.
      I often wish I had a shirt that says “I have three kids!”; mainly to explain the spit up stain or smear of random food which I don’t notice until I get home, but also for these moments!

  3. I gave up. Now I shop online with Coles. They even deliver wine ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I wanted to do that when Jasper was born but our town didn’t offer home delivery.
      I haven’t yet looked into it here. Maybe I should, though.

    • Also, I don’t drink wine but I am thinking about taking it up!

    • Wish my town had a coles!
      I want me some wine home delivered. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. I refuse to take my 3 kids with me when food shopping. They seem fine untill we get in to the supermarket then they turn in to little ferals, and whats worse is, its my 10 year old that plays up most. Not so much as being naughty and chucking tantrums but being really loud and showing off which involves running off, then my younger two think if he can do it so can they.
    My solution is wait untill hubs comes home from work and go late night shopping by my self. ๐Ÿ™‚ makes my life so much more simpler ๐Ÿ™‚

    To answer your question, if i have my kids with me i give a little nod and a smile.
    without my kids i feel the same as @Moodi Mumma ” I feel more awkward when Iโ€™m witnessing another mum going through this and I donโ€™t have my kidsโ€ฆ. itโ€™s then I donโ€™t know whether to look, smile, pretend I donโ€™t see through fear the poor Mum will feel judged.”

    Fantastic post Becky, very interested to know how other mums handle this situation! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Oh my gosh. You just explained my whole day in your post. How did you get into my mind/life? I’ve had the day from hell. And my response? I don’t care what people who I’m never going to see again think. Is that bad?

    And secondly, I found my response was apologising for my child’s behaviour, and then apologising for my response. But that’s it. No guilt. Because my child WAS behaving badly! (And I’m about to post about my day too!)

    Don’t feel guilty for your child’s behaviour. After all, it’s there’s. Not yours! xx

  6. Becky I just love that you were calm enough to think mid-tantrum “I better take a photo for my blog!” LOL
    I’ve been lucky so far, our whole fam bam does the groceries together so Daddy is there to entertain the one closest to “the edge”! And they are still at that age a cuddle and a cracker solves almost anything. Wont be this way forever mind you… and I dread the day. And I agree, no need to stress about causing a scene, those around you will either be too distracted by their own agenda, feeling for you cause they’ve been there, or the few who do judge… they don’t have kids and their day will come… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Who cares if they’re judging you, not your problem. We’ve all been there. I prefer to be ignored or a flippant comment ‘been there done that’ or ‘your turn today hey?’. And I do the same back. Nobody has perfect children all the time. That’s like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow ๐Ÿ˜‰

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