Going shopping with my two kids, makes me want to crouch in a darkened room afterwards and power drink rum until I forget the ordeal … and the fact that I have children.

At best I’m no shopeteer. I get hot and bothered by the artificial lights and the need to choose. I tried online shopping, but I kept forgetting so many items. I ended up having to go to the shops anyway as well as purchasing things online. I was trapped in a nightmarish perpetual real-and-virtual shopping loop.

I have tried to improve my shopaphobic situation, I really have. I’ve read all the shiny Pinterest ideas about making shopping fun with kids, how to get them involved and how to avoid meltdowns. I read so many ideas that it caused me Pinterstress. The truth is, it just isn’t fun and they are way too involved. That is the issue.

I have accepted that an organised weekly shop is beyond our abilities. We shop for a few days, until we are reduced to eating crackers for dinner, and we are forced to face the ordeal again.

I never learn though. Each time I think that this time will be different.
This time I won’t hyperventilate with stress.
They are going to listen.
Do a preemptive wee.
Hold hands.

I convince myself that this time there will be no wild careering around. The titchy trolley full of things will not be shoved into the display. There will be no shocked gasps of disbelief and outrage from the Dutch grey brigade, who have past the point of remembering the reality of smallsville.

There are fresh faithful promises about NEVER doing that thing where they sprint down the aisle with their arms out, clearing off the shelves as they run.

Never again will they take a tray of eggs from the bottom of the giant egg pile at Lidl and watch with interest while I lunge, squeaking for help, and alarmed shop workers assist me in piling the eggy landslide back up.

I used up my quota “nice voice” that day.
It wasn’t egg-actly pretty.

I make them promise:

We won’t lob stuff out of the trolly at other shoppers while singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs. In July.

We certainly won’t slam our brother’s hand in the cold section. Repeatedly. In fact there will be no spitting, fake vomit noises, pinching or trolley seat refusal of any kind.

When we are putting stuff on the conveyor belt at the checkout, we won’t throw it at the nice checkout worker, who is paid to smile and accept my mortified apologies.

We certainly won’t bite our brothers ‘bribery donut’, as well as our own. No one needs a repeat of that mayhem. As we get to finally pay and escape, we will maintain a semblance of normality. We will holdourshit together until the car.

This time, THIS TIME will be different.

And so my lecture is delivered to cherubic solemn faces, with eyes that shine with the mischief of a thousand evil elves.

The promises are delivered once more.
The treats are discussed.
The bribes agreed.

And I believe them, these tiny versions of my drunk teenage self. These wildlings I crafted, these balls of light and chaos and sticky things.

That’s what motherhood is for me. Belief.
That I can, and that they won’t and that we will once more.
I find the strength and step forward and trust that we won’t fall.

In this state of pessimistic optimism, I take their tiny hands in mine and walk through the threshold of the sliding doors, to face my public humiliation once more.


I was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met my Cornish husband in Catalonia. We lived in the Netherlands with our two differently wired kids before all moving to Yorkshire. I spend my days parenting, writing and being amazed at all that Sheffield has to offer.

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