Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesdays in Twinland: The Double Shopping Cart Conundrum

Every day, all across America, bajillions of Americans go shopping. They go to the grocery store and buy bread. They go to Walmart and buy toilet paper. They go to the mall and browse through clearance racks. They do it without thinking. Without planning the trip out days in advance. Without giving themselves nervous breakdowns.

These people clearly don't have twins.

When the twins were first born, I had no idea how to go about the logistics of shopping alone. Where do you put two car seats AND groceries in one shopping cart? You just can't. I guess I could have gotten two carts and tried to push them both around the store myself, but that just seemed impractical.

My solution? I never went shopping alone. Seriously. I always went with either my mom or my husband. Two adults. Two babies. No problem.  

When the twins were finally old enough to sit in a shopping cart, I got excited. "I can just get a double cart, and everything will be great!" I thought.

Wrong. No one has double carts. Seriously, you can never find one. And when you do, all the straps are broken. My brief hope of finally being independent and able to shop alone were dashed. 

Sometimes I would think about going alone anyway. Then I would start to feel all clammy and my mind would start whirling and I would feel like I was going to puke.

My twins were a year old before I was finally brave enough to attempt a shopping trip solo. It's almost embarrassing to admit this fact. I had taken the twins other places alone, but there was always someone to help out on the other end. Not so with shopping.

That first trip alone, I started out nervous but optimistic. "This will be no big deal," I thought. "I can handle it."

I got the twins, myself, and the diaper bag ready to go--a 30 minute process in and of itself. I struggled to open the door while holding two kids and a diaper bag, then I wrangled them into their car seats and we were off.

The whole way to Walmart, I repeated the same prayer over and over in my mind: "Please let there be a double cart, please let there be a double cart." I knew it was unlikely, but a girl can dream.

There was no double cart.

I circled the parking lot for nearly twenty minutes hoping one would magically appear.

It didn't.

I parked in the closest stall I could find, took a deep breath, and told the twins in my most cheerful voice, "We're going to be good boys and sit nicely in the cart, aren't we?" I was already trying to decide who would be better to put in the back of the cart, who would be the most obedient and least squirmy. Probably Thing 1.

Unbuckle two car seats. Heft two little boys. Walk quickly into the store, all the while sternly telling the twins to hold still so I won't drop them. Once inside Walmart, I nudged a cart out of the line with my foot. I buckled one kid in, and sat the other in the basket. "Won't this be fun?" I asked Thing 1. "Sit down and we're going to go for a ride."

He sat for all of five seconds. Thing 2, buckled in front, started crying in protest. Thing 1 was clearly having more fun, and Thing 2 was put out. I rushed to where Thing 1 was standing and sat him down. He promptly stood back up. We repeated this action about ten times between the front door and the toothpaste isle.

I ended up spending the entire shopping trip alternating between carrying Thing 1 and holding onto his hands while he stood in the cart and I dragged it along beside me. By the time I finished shopping, both boys were screaming. I had to stop every few feet to feed them Cheerios and beg Thing 1 to sit.

There were no short shopping lines. The screaming escalated while we waited, and I was fighting back tears by the time I paid and headed to the parking lot.

A whole new dilemma awaited me when I got there. I put my purchases in the car, then pushed the cart all the way up to the car door so I could keep an eye on the baby in the cart while I strapped the other one in his car seat.

I cried the whole way home. So did the twins. I called up husband and angrily told him I would never, ever, ever be independent again. That I would always have to wait for someone else to go out to complete the simplest of tasks. Sometimes I'm irrational like that.

Then I got home and realized I'd forgotten to purchase about half the items we needed because I hadn't written a good shopping list. The day was a complete bust. I raised the white flag of surrender and vowed to never try something so stupid again.

The twins will be 17 months soon, and we still don't go very many places alone. They're just too rambunctious, and too hard to corral. But I know I can do it solo if necessary, and that gives me a lot of peace of mind and comfort. I know to be better organized when going out now, and I don't stress about it nearly as much.

Maybe one day I won't stress about it at all.

When you think about it, giving up shopping alone or shopping stress-free to have two amazing sons isn't really a sacrifice at all. The moral of the story is this: if I see you with a double shopping cart and only one child, I will take you down.

TWIN MOM TIP: Make your shopping list before you go, then put all the items in order of where they'll be in the store so you don't have to backtrack. That way, when your twins have a meltdown (which they eventually will), you can quickly get in and out without fear of forgetting something. It's one less thing to stress about.



J. A. Bennett said...

I don't have twins but I do have a 4 year old, a 3 year old, and a baby. I totally understand wanting the double shopping cart thing. They really don't have them at Walmart, but they do at Costco and Macy's has the ones with the steering wheels that kids love. Kids are such an adventure. I promise as they get older it will get easier. (At least when it comes to shopping.) Before you know it, they'll be in school and you can go by yourself.

Also, don't feel dumb about blogging. The best people are in blogland and everyone is so supportive. You'll love it!

Chas Hathaway said...

My favorite carts are the car-shaped ones. They can seat two kids, and have a basket for groceries. The problem? More than two kids on the shopping trip.

Now we have four exceptionally rambunctious kids under the age of seven. Only in emergencies does one of us have to take the kids alone. We've always either left most of the kids home or gone as a family. That's an adventure, too. I'm not even kidding when I say that our little family is pushing four carts. I've just found that the best way to keep the older ones from adding stuff to the cart or getting distracted by stuff on the aisles is to give each his/her own cart. Yeah, we're a site, and a line goes from one cart in line to five carts in line, but it keeps them out of trouble.

I can't imagine what it would be like with twins! At least our are staggered by a couple years each!

But yeah, we still can't shop alone with the kids. It's either both parents or not all the kids going.

My favorite thing is when people give the evil eye that you KNOW is implying, "Why on EARTH did you have so many kids?"

To which I mentally respond, "Well, it wasn't to have fantastic grocery store trips, but we knew what we were getting ourselves into. It's exasperating at times, and it's amazing at times. We'll take both, thank you very much!"

Wendy Jo said...

I love this new idea! And don't feel bad - I dont' have twins but taking my three kids shopping stresses the heck out of me. It'll get easier....in like 18 years or so ;)

Lindzee said...

@Jennie: I actually have considered getting a Costco card for the sole purpose of the double carts. Maceys is great for double carts. If only there weren't so many things I needed at Walmart that I can't get at Maceys.

@Chas: Yeah, I love how complete strangers feel the need to comment on your family size. Because we totally asked for their opinion on the matter. It sounds like your shopping trips are even crazier than mine!

@Wendy: So 18 years and we'll be sane again? ;)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Oh, man, Lindzee. My dad was a twin, and my doctors always thought I might be carrying twins myself. Never did and now I'm glad. lol

Cheri Chesley said...

The Costco are the best two seater carts I've ever seen. And yes, all the evil things I think in my head when I see someone with one child monopolizing a two seater cart. I say take them down. ;)

I always found the car carts difficult to steer. Lindzee, my twins are now 13. I can tell you it doesn't take 18 yrs for it to become easier. I can also tell you, once they are potty trained, you'll face an entirely different dilemma when they need to go to the bathroom. 4 yrs old and women gave me evil looks for taking them into the ladies' room. What was I supposed to do? Send them alone into the mens' room? I don't think so.

Moms of twins need to stick together. :)

Christy said...

Your post made me smile, and feel exhausted for you! I've taken my 5 kids with me to the store on occasion and it's a disaster. Now that I only have one at home, he tells me he is my shopping buddy. So much easier! I like your Tuesdays in Twinland idea!

Holly Kelly said...

I know how you feel. Although I don't have multiples, my oldest has autism and I had to drag my kicking, screaming child through the grocery store while at the same time, take care of a baby and a toddler. And all the while I was getting dirty looks from parents who thought my five year old was simply a spoiled brat and I was a bad mother. I had one woman suggest my child needed a spanking. (I only did a trip like that once) It's best to admit that you need help. We mothers are not superwomen, although we wish we were.

Lindzee said...

@Donna: It's fun, once you get past the exhaustion. ;)

@Cheri: We have like 4 sets of twins in our neighborhood. All the moms keep telling me 18 months to 3 years is the hardest, then it gets better from there. Crossing my fingers!

@Christy: I can't even imagine taking five shopping! I'd be terrified of one getting loose.

@Holly: I feel for you. Every time I see a misbehaving child in the store, I just feel bad for the mom. Heaven knows mine have misbehaved enough that I don't pass judgement. When people complain, I wonder...did you EVER have a kid?! Because people who have been parents should understand.

Debra Allen Erfert said...

I absolutely love seeing all the comments, Lindzee! Great post.

I bypassed the problem of taking my two children to the grocery. When they were small, my husband worked the afternoon shift as a cop, so he would watch them while I shopped. Only problem I had was when my sons would cry (read:scream for me) as I drove away, like I was leaving forever. Tears routinely clouded my vision at the sight of Mike holding them back, with their little arms reaching out to me. I can still picture it even now, and they are both married men. One is even going to be a dad in June! *Ah, memories*

The only time I ever judge a mother or a dad in a grocery store is if they start spanking their child while verbally berating them. This I see as abuse. Otherwise, anyone with a crying child is given plenty of sympathy and a lot of slack.

Lindzee said...

Ah, Debra! I can't even imagine. I'm lucky that my twins don't mind being left with their daddy or their grandparents for awhile so I can get out of the house alone.