Shopping for and/or with my children is one of my most dreaded household duties. It ranks somewhere between changing dirty diapers and scrubbing toilets. Seriously – it’s bad.
My oldest has had very strong opinions about her wardrobe from an early age. We were doing the old “pick one of two options” trick before age 2. She’s been dressing herself since about 3. For the most part she does OK. But there were days I just had to let it go.
I learned quickly to get her seal of approval on all clothing before purchase. It’s tricky with my “Goldilocks” fashionista….too itchy, too tight, too big. Shopping trips were painful, but so was looking at the new-with-tags outfits languishing in her closet. It always seemed to be the outfits I’d dropped major coin on too.
But as painful as clothes shopping can be, it doesn’t touch navigating the grocery store with my 22-month-old. The girl is Houdini y’all. When she’s had enough, she slips out of the shopping cart belt and stands up in her seat. I rescue her just before a linoleum swan dive and try to reason with her (as if that's actually a thing with toddlers).
"Stay with mommy or back in the cart," I say.
At this point, I know I’m toast and I’ll spend the rest of my shopping trip either playing “catch the toddler” or physically restraining her in the shopping cart, avoiding eye contact while innocent shoppers shrink from her ear piercing screams.
Her sister did the exact. same. thing. at this age. I remember going into some terrible chain store and needing JUST ONE THING in the back of the store. As I carried a screaming toddler in something resembling the Scorpion Death Lock wrestling move, a rather confused older gentleman offered, “You know they have carts up front.”
At this point you might be trying to trouble shoot the situation...have you tried snacks? What about rewards? You need to leave the store immediately and let her work it out in the car.
Trust me when I say, you just don’t who you're dealing with.
I don't mean to be too hard on my children; let's just say "laid back" isn't in their lexicon. But there is light at the end of my very long toddler tunnel: ONLINE SHOPPING.
I’m not going to pretend here folks, I love a good deal. In fact, I love the “best” deal. This has sometimes stood in the way of maximizing my Prime membership. If I can get diapers cheaper at Walmart then I’m going to Wally World, even if I have to schlep my whole crew with me.
I know…it’s a problem.
It was especially a problem with clothes shopping. Sure you can get good deals online, but the “best” are consignment sales. Back in the day when I had one sweet, portable, little baby I would rock the consignment sales. New with tags smocked dresses for $20? Sign me up.
Then I discovered online consignment. Whoa, game changer. I can get my 5-year-old’s approval while baby girl naps and my husband high fives me for being frugal. It’s sort of a wardrobe trifecta. It won’t make my children more laid back, but it just might save my sanity.
And I have hope for the future. My oldest mellowed exponentially around 2 1/2. When most kids are just discovering their “no,” we were negotiating the finer points of our parent/kid contract. Honestly I let her do things her way a lot; but when I say no, by God, Mama means it.
Now in kindergarten she still picks out all her own outfits, but I still do her hair – which is more than my mom can say for me. What’s that saying about pay back?
We've had many discussions over “party dress” vs. “play clothes,” matching tops and bottoms, and the finer points of fashion, like "leggings are not pants." She’s open to my suggestions, but the kiss of death for any outfit is still when I pick it out.
We do our best as parents, trying to toe the line between leader and dictator. When other people hear about our wardrobe battles they say, "You’re the parent, what you say goes." But when I was rocking my smocked dresses in kindergarten with the Payless pleather boots my mom bought for me in a weak moment, she was letting me be me. For that, I’m forever grateful.
Now as the parent, I'm finding more and more that if I give my girls enough room to feel a reasonable amount of control, everyone's happier in the end.
For grocery shopping, that looks like this.
For clothes shopping, it looks like this: