How To Survive Target Shopping With Your Toddler

I am onto you, Target.

Today, I had an epic parenting fail. I had a long list of items to buy at Target, and I brought my toddler along for the ride. Like most moms, I love Target. The store has everything. It has a pharmacy, produce, paper products, diapers, clothing, and snacks. All at fabulous prices!

Some Target stores even have a Starbucks inside! Shopping plus caffeine adds up to a mama’s perfect outing.

Unless, of course, you erroneously decide to take your toddler. For all of Target’s attributes, it also has toddler-themed merchandise at every turn.

I am onto you, Target. You will not distract me with your discounted toilet paper and extensive dollar section. I will not give into my caffeine-induced high. I will survive my shopping mission with my toddler in tow.

The Target Shopping With A Toddler 10 Commandments

1. Thou shalt make a detailed shopping list.

I made a list and I checked it twice; however, I made a crucial mistake. I did not list the items in order of how I would encounter them in the store. By making a list according to the route you take in Target, you will limit the amount of time spent looking at your list and checking off the items. Every second counts. Also, you must never lose eye contact with your toddler for even a half second, or else disaster will ensue.

2. Thou shalt allow toddler to bring their favorite toy.

If your toddler’s favorite toy is an Elsa doll that is half their size (like mine), just “let it go.” Might you end up carrying said toy for half the trip? Yes. Might you end up burying said toy in a sea of paper towels? Yes. It is far better than the alternative.

If your toddler is not accompanied by their favorite toy, they will see another toy (or hundreds) that captures their attention. Need I say what will happen when you explain that the new toy must stay at Target with all of their friends? If the favorite is there, the favorite’s feelings would be hurt if attention was given to a new toy. You know what? Bring the favorite and avoid the toy section altogether. It’s safer.

3. Thou shalt bring copious amounts of snacks.

Thank you Target for putting all of the Goldfish crackers in my toddler’s sight line. I am onto your wily ways, but I already made a preemptive strike. I brought the Goldfish crackers I bought the last time I was here! Ha! It is also not a bad idea to bring snacks for yourself.

”Do I need more trail mix/cheese crackers/gummy bears? No. Is it on sale? I should get it.”

Avoid these monologues, and the task of trying to make space for your third jar of the exact same trail mix in your pantry, by bringing snacks for yourself.

4. Thou shalt keep coupons in a conspicuous locale.

I try to be a budget-conscious, spending-savvy mom. However, in efforts to corral my toddler into the car, I seem to always manage to forget the coupons I have been hoarding. Paper clip your coupons inside your purse ― or inside your bra ― before you leave.

Place them in your hot little hand before you check out, so that they are the first thing you hand the checker. If I do remember to leave the house with the coupons, I always forget to give them to the checker.

5. Thou shalt keep thy toddler tethered to you.

There was a time when I could allow my daughter to accompany me on shopping excursions and it was a somewhat pleasant experience. Ah, the good ol’ days, where my daughter remained tightly harnessed in her car seat or happily strapped in the cart.

Those days have come and gone. Now, my daughter yearns for freedom. At home, be free and explore, my little inquisitive one! Out in public, leashes are not just for dogs, and you are staying tied to me like we are in a prison chain gang. Those monkey backpacks with attached leashes are a little more fashionable than orange jumpsuits and handcuffs.

6. Thou shalt always be prepared for the bathroom sprint.

As soon as you set foot into that Target store, know your bathroom emergency plan. Of course, you went potty before you left. Of course, you have diapers and wipes along with an extra change of clothing stashed in your purse. This is not enough. You need to have your exact path to the bathroom mapped out from every location in the store.

Otherwise, you will end up purchasing the froggy potty your toddler decided to test out in the middle of the store. I swear, I turned my back for one second! She has stage fright at home, but pulled down her pants and made a “pee pee” right in the center of Target. Try to explain that one as you are checking out.

7. Thou shalt be willing to evacuate the premises at the drop of a Frozen-themed hat.

Oh, you thought you were just going to make a “quick trip” before nap time? There is nothing quick about a trip to Target, especially before nap time.

One minute you are strolling contentedly down the aisles. You are crossing each item off your predetermined list in record time. Then, you feel a little tug on the monkey backpack leash. Your toddler has had it. Scrap the mission. Leave your cart and make haste for the exit. Target will be there tomorrow. Your sanity may not be.

8. Thou shalt turn the observation of toddler-themed merchandise into a game.

I kid you not, there is at least one item of Frozen-themed merchandise on every single aisle in Target, and my daughter is obsessed with Frozen. She squeals in delight whenever she spies Elsa and the gang.

To avoid deafening fellow shoppers, I have developed a game. Every time we see Frozen tissue, Frozen applesauce, Frozen blankets, Frozen t-shirts, and Frozen breakfast cereal... we wave and blow kisses. Your arms get a nice workout, and your hearing remains in tact.

9. Thou shalt distract toddler in the checkout aisle.

Checking out is like trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. You need to get as many items as possible in order to survive. You also need to keep said items in tact. Expediency is key, because there is a little monster nipping at your heels. This is a great time to bring out those snacks. Or belt out every song from the Frozen soundtrack. Whichever seems to feed the beast.

10. Thou shalt bring your own stickers.

Sometimes the checkers will give your toddler a sticker. This will be the most amazing thing that happens to your little tyke all day. They will remember this magical experience for weeks to come. However, checkers are human and may be distracted.

Perhaps the froggy potty they are ringing is already wet. Or perhaps a mom is belting out “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” while putting all the bubblegum packages back where they belong. If the checker is distracted, he or she may forget to bestow your toddler with the sticker.

This is not a drill. You MUST have stickers. Stickers are toddler currency. Stickers tell your toddler that you have both made it to the finish line aka the checkout line. There were no bodily injuries. You may be wet, but no worse for wear. Stickers are your toddler’s equivalent of mom’s celebratory glass of wine.

Speaking of wine, Target now sells it. When you return home, the only thing to do is get out your trail mix, Frozen-themed tissue, and pour yourself a large glass of wine. Go ahead and give yourself a sticker, too. You’ve earned it.

Do you have a froggy potty worthy horror story? I would love to hear it! Comment and we shall commiserate together! Or if you find my misery hilarious, go ahead and share this post with all of your friends.

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