Bad Mom,  Bug,  Life Lessons,  raving lunatic rant,  shopping,  travel

Shopping with Toddler

bargain bin

I hate shopping. It’s only gotten worse now that I’m a mom. It takes forever and is incredibly frustrating. Sure, I love getting new things. But shopping…it’s not for the weak of heart.

Toby’s youngest brother is getting married on Valentine’s Day and we are all heading up to Northern California for the wedding and a big family reunion. It’s all very exciting except I can’t wear my regular mom uniform to the wedding. You know, the one that consists of my old worn-out jeans that I wear three days in a row on purpose with whatever loose-fitting shirt I can find that isn’t stained. That’s just not going to cut it.

It’s been so long since I’ve dressed up that even my “magic dress” isn’t really very magic anymore. Sure, it will do but I think it’s time I found something else to wear besides the same old dress over and over. It’s getting a little redundant in photos.

On top of that, I have a husband who wishes I would shop more. Isn’t that funny? Something is wrong with this picture.

So Bug and I went shopping.

My first mistake was going on a Sunday. What’s wrong with me?!! Am I smoking crack? I should know not to ever ever ever ever ever go to the mall on a Sunday. I thought stores would be hurting for business because of the downwards-spiraling economy. I was a fool. Sunday shoppers must be in deep denial or from some other country where their money is worth more. It was so crowded, I couldn’t even think straight. I can’t see why anyone would ever possibly think of shopping on a Sunday as therapy. I think standing in line at the DMV would be more relaxing.

My second mistake was bringing Bug. Three is not a good age for shopping. She likes to shop, don’t get me wrong. She loves to shop. That’s part of the problem! She likes to turn the whole event into some kind of huge game where she always wins and I always lose my temper.

Trying to get her to go forward in a straight line is like trying to push water up a hill. She will go every which way but the way I want her to go. Here’s a map of our route through a typical store. I would be pink and she would be green. The only reason she ever makes it to point B is because I drag her there, nearly dislocating her arm in the process. It’s tiring to say the least. Fun for her, not so much fun for me.

map of store

But I can’t complain too much because she does love shopping. She’s all smiles and questions and running off to try things on. It could be worse. She could be throwing herself down on the floor and crying.

She saves that sort of behavior for the grocery store. Which by the way happened today because I wouldn’t let her use the little cart. I was so embarrassed. She pitched the biggest fit. I thought I would crumble right into the floor. Then a kind older woman walked by and patted me on the shoulder. She told me I was doing good. She said she had three children and all this carrying on and pitching fits was very normal for Bug’s age. I believe the kind older woman but am I going to survive this? Is Bug just expressing her free will or do I need to take her out behind the bike racks and wallop her? Don’t answer that.

this was cute the first ten times...

Anyway, Bug’s enthusiasm for shopping and trying on clothes is fine except I need to try things on too. I need her to stand somewhat near me and not get into too much trouble. If we can keep the displays intact and beaded necklaces from exploding onto the floor, then we are good.

Of course there is a flip side to that. The opposite of too much chaos from a toddler is the absence of it. There is nothing worse than looking behind you, expecting your toddler to be nearby, only to find her missing. Did someone steal her? I just took my eyes off her for one minute and she’s gone! I start breathing heavily and reaching for my cell phone to call 911 and then I see her feet sticking out from beneath a rack of clothes. Arg.

What toddler? I don't see a toddler.

You can see her fine in this picture but earlier in the day, when I was looking for fancy dresses in the special occasions department, she really had me losing my lunch. I couldn’t find her anywhere behind the long gowns that reached to the floor. Not even a giggle gave her away. Why? Because she’s hiding of course. It’s a super-fun game called “Watch Mommy Have A Heart Attack!”

the world is my jungle gym

I should have taken her stroller with us to keep her corralled (that would be my third mistake) but she’s recently developed an aversion to the thing. Half the time I end up using the stroller to hold my purse and then I’m chasing after her with it wheeling behind me. It’s really a dead weight that I can’t be burdened with.

extreme mommy evasion tactics

This is wartime. Next time I take her shopping with me, I’m wearing my ninja suit.

too fussy

I haven’t even gotten to the fun times we had in the dressing rooms. Of course there were the meet-and-greet sessions with the neighbors by sticking her head under the wall and saying hello. I’m so glad many of the dressing rooms are completely contained. I couldn’t even think of taking her with me to one of those rooms that only divides you with a simple curtain. Much to my chagrin, Bug is very friendly and has no problem discussing “boobies” with anyone who will listen. Maybe we don’t get out enough or maybe we should never ever go out again. It’s a toss up.

too something

My fourth mistake was forgetting snacks. I suppose that was good for the expensive gowns that didn’t need greasy fingerprints on them but my brain hurt after a while from the repeating requests. Hungry, bored kids are not your friend. You’d think, as a seasoned mother, I would have a well-stocked bag ready for such demands but I guess I’ve taken my recent freedom from diapers a little too liberally. Who did I think I was, getting out of the house without a purse that weighed twenty pounds?!

Which reminds me! How fun is it to run to the bathroom eighteen million times with your recently potty-trained toddler who maybe-sort-of-might-have-to-go but then changes her mind while she sits on the pot and sings songs for hours on end? She is definitely in charge, this little one. She may be small in stature but she runs the schedule when it comes to visiting the restroom.

I try to be patient with her. I’m so proud of her being potty trained so quickly. It’s just a little trying sometimes. I don’t really like spending all my daylight hours staring at tile while I wait for it to be my turn to wipe her butt. I guess those are the breaks though. At least I don’t have to change diapers anymore. (And yes, I will take this post down before she goes to school and can be embarrassed by such things…though part of me thinks a little embarrassment might be good payback.)

too clowny

So. I tried on a lot of dresses and made a few frantic calls to Toby for support. He encouraged me to push onwards for another hour and then maybe go back the next day while Bug was in preschool.

Now that’s a novel concept: shopping sans child.

I normally like to spend every minute that Bug is in preschool glued to my computer. I have so much work to catch up on and I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not but I never get to blog much anymore. It’s not for lack of content, that’s for sure. I just never get to sit down and type much anymore. If I’m not wrangling the kid, cooking or cleaning then I’m dead asleep.

mary kate alien

In the end, I decided to listen to Toby. I fed Bug a cookie at the local in-store cafe and then called it a day. I fought the toddler but the toddler won. I went home dress-less and defeated. Then I had a glass of wine.

The next day, after I dropped Bug off at preschool, I went back to the very same stores. The difference was like night and day. I still hate shopping but what a dream it was compared to my nightmare from the day before. No crowds! (Mondays at 10am are MUCH better for shopping than 4pm on Sundays!) No hassle! Salespeople who sincerely seemed interested in helping me! I could walk through the aisles without having to scold a little person for pulling necklaces and green socks from their little hangers. I sailed through the racks to the dressing rooms with the greatest of ease, trying on dress after dress without any feedback from the peanut gallery.

I did end up having to purchase way more than I wanted because I just didn’t know what looked good on me but later when I put on a fashion show for Toby he was pleased. Of course, I’m taking back a third of what I bought just because I don’t want to be paying off my credit card for the next six months but at least it’s done. Done done done.

all ready to go!

I’m now properly prepared for the wedding and then some with a smart little suit. It’s not what I would have picked—as I’m usually more of a busta-move-on-the-dance-floor sort of girl but it’s very practical and sweet.

And even more sweet is that it’s done. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if I ever see a mall again.

Disclaimer: these photos were not all taken on the same day. I’ve started collecting photos of her whacky shopping behavior lately as a form of coping.


  • Sarah

    That last photo might just be the answer when you go out: keep her in your bag. Throw some snacks in there after her and she’ll be fine.

  • Erin

    I hear you on the behaviour of 3. I have a three and half year old son and rarely a day goes by that I am not counting to 10 and trying to remind myself why I thought kids were a good idea. I laugh when I see other moms of 3 because we can always spot each other and share a knowing look. 3 is hard. period.

    Luckily it seems to be getting better slowly as he gets older. Pretty soon these will be fond memories. Right?

    Love the orange dress by the way.

  • Ms. Amy

    Welcome to the Throttle ‘Em Threes! The Terrible Two’s were a breeze compared to Three! Enjoy your in-depth tour of every restroom in a 100 yard radius of anyplace you’d like to visit for the next 12 months. Enjoy the new game of “Give Mommy a Heart Attack”, marvel at her ability to go from smiling to screaming in .03 seconds, and gaze in wonder at the pigheadedness she will exhibit. As with all these phases, this too shall pass. Until then…..that periwinkle dress is adorable (without the sash).

  • Anny

    I really like the second dress you tried on! And it’s cute that Bug has a similar expression and pose beside you. Little copycat!

  • Annika

    That suit is so sweet! I bet it looks great on you.

    There is a book called “Your Three Year Old: Friend or Foe?” that is supposed to be great. I haven’t read it yet (we have four months to go until Sam is three and I am in denial) but I’ve heard really good things. Maybe the library has it?

  • Sarah

    I wish I could say it’s going to get easier, but…um…I still make a zig zag path to the sale rack. Lol.

    Anyway, I love the periwinkle dress, it looks so elegant!

  • mamalang

    my oldest did that hide in the rack thing to my husband when she was little. He even left the store and walked around the block downtown looking for her. When he came back, the store owner had her behind his back and told my husband he had to promise not to spank her. She was hiding quietly for over 10 minutes. And I didn’t think she could be quiet for 2 min.

  • Lady in a Smalltown

    The things I have to look forward too (in 3 years). When my best friend was little, he and his mom were in a department store. When she turned to look for him, he was gone. Just as she started to panic she “heard a little grunt” (my favorite part of the story) and he fell out of a nearby clothing rack totally naked. 30 years later, he still hasn’t lived that down.

  • Rebecca (Bearca)

    I feel your pain! My little boy (3 1/2) is fond of hiding inside racks of clothes and it can be terrifying. About a week ago I thought it would be a good idea to take both kids to Old Navy with me. It turned out to be a horrible idea, complete with a tantrum and some screaming. It may be a while until I try again!

  • nicole

    a good rule of thumb…shop without kids, husband and tennis shoes. Go in the morning and preferably with a latte in hand and pretend you have personal shopper and that you are the queen. Feel free to swing by and say hello, we are right off the freeway.

  • Camels & Chocolate

    I remember when my mom lost my much younger sister who was about Bug’s age at the time in the department store and couldn’t find her for two hours. They thought she was kidnapped, so they shut down the entire mall and had all the security guards looking for. In the end, she had crawled on the bottom shelf of one of those big circular displays of clothes and feel asleep among the sweaters. They only found her because she had a cold and they heard her snuffling!

  • Angelique

    She’s hilarious, that little one! My young son is full of similar antics, and while frustrating at the time, are totally funny when recounted to a sleepy husband at the wee hours of the night/morning. Have a good giggle at it all SAJ. Also, I bet you look like a million dollars in that French-looking suit. Nice choice!

  • Laura

    I regularly read and enjoy your blog. I just had to post to say two things:

    1) I downloaded your valentines that you posted earlier, and my son had a fantastic time coloring them. We made cards for all of his friends and of course for his grandmothers. It was a great activity to do while his baby sister was sleeping, so thanks so much for providing those.

    2) I love the kitty shirt that bug is wearing. She looks so cute–even if she was wreaking havoc on your nerves.

    Love your blog!

  • Jerri Ann

    As I was scrolling down and I got to the one with the maniquins on the table, I just knew that was going to be one of her feet….lol. whew! HOpe you found something because all of those dresses were adorable on you…

  • SleepyNita

    J Crew, Whoorl must be proud of you!

    Awesome suit – you will get a ton of use out of it as separates down the road (I watch entirely too much what not to wear…..) and I loved the orange dress on you as well. I did notice a dress hangin up it the photos that looked suspiciously like Magic Dress version 2.0….

  • beyond

    my mother once lost my baby sister in a department store. well, my sister ‘lost’ herself and my mother almost lost her mind during those few minutes. (she was hiding behind a rack of course)
    i like how you have enough humour to actually take photos during the ordeal.
    yay to the lovely smart little suit. (also like the blue dress on you, especially the style/fit)

  • patois

    Really, that second dress looked great. And you can never go wrong with a lovely smart little suit. (Says the woman who wears her jeans FOUR days in a row because why the heck not?)

  • lynne

    Wow this post is an eye opener on how difficult shopping is with a toddler in tow. My sister can remember deliberatly hiding from my mother under a clothes rack, I’m sure I was a horror too.

    I like the suit you bought very Jackie O and I agree with the others, the burnt orange dress with the wide waist band is very you. Enjoy the wedding x

  • kathryn

    I totally hear you about shopping with a toddler. It makes me break out in cold sweats. He is usually pretty good but we haven’t really been shopping much since he became more independant.

    My all time favorite shopping moment is when I’m in the dressing room in between changes of clothing and THAT’S when it’s an all out emergency need to use the bathroom like ten hours ago. Or when you just got on a complicated peice of clothing and the nearest bathroom is outside of the store.

    :D I feel your pain. They have to grow out of the three’s soon right? (PLEASE TELL ME THEY DO! haha) :)

    I’m going to have to agree with everyone else on the second/burnt orange dress. It compliments you very well. However the suit you picked out is beautiful as well.

  • Mrs. Doodle

    This made me laugh out loud. I fill your pain. I try to shop for me without my little one. It is just so hard when you have to go in 50 different directions – and that map you made is hilarious but oh so true!

    And I love the dress options. The last picture is my fave.

  • Julie

    I know how you feel. Shopping with a four year old isn’t much better. I also have three more that are boys! 10,9,7. Shopping with them is like trying to keep monkeys from hanging from chandeliers.
    I feel your pain.

  • Karin

    lol…this post cracked me up because i totally remember hiding from my mom in department stores…of course i nearly gave her a heart attack several times. i feel bad about it now, but it was always so much fun to hide inside those racks…sometimes i wish i were a kid again and it was acceptable to play hide-n-seek in stores.

  • Dawn in CA

    First-timer visiting your site, after seeing your free valentine cards via (thanks for those, by the way!). In addition to my 7 year-old son, I have 3 year-old identical twin girls. Needless to say, I have not been shopping in a real store for… well, a really really long time. On the upside, I have found some killer deals on dresses on ebay. Like a brand-new, beautiful orange silk Ann Taylor number that I wore when I was a bridesmaid in my sister-in-law’s orange-and-pink wedding ($18). Or the $200 Shelli Seagal drop-dead-slinky-gorgeous black velvet and lace dress that I picked up for $25 and wore to a black tie event sponsored by my firm. Can you tell I love a bargain? Seriously, check it out. :)

  • Ev

    Also a first-time visitor via My daughter will be 5 in a couple of weeks. I couldn’t help laughing, because at least I know it wasn’t just my child!!. I’d try to go when she was in school,heck I still do. I remember last summer we were in Wal Mart. There was a bunch of us, her dad, brothers, & cousins. She was the youngest. I left her with them so I could get what I needed to get in peace. When I’m done I find them all, except the 4 yo. They said she was with them. Well where is she now?!?!?! She must still be in the toy dept, so we look all over the store, still can’t find her, it’s been like 5, not even 10 min now, I’m freaking out, thinking all kinds of things. Then we find her, guess where?!?! She was getting herself a chocolate frosted donut from the bakery. Oh Yeah she had picked up some goldfish on her shopping spree too!!!!

  • LostinPlaceKim

    I giggled through this entire post. Because if I didn’t, I would have been crying. These are exactly the shopping stories I have with my toddler. The diagram of point A to point B, the hiding in the racks to give Mommy a heart attack, all of it. I just have to remind myself to breathe and that she really is stinkin’ adorable. Seriously, their cuteness is all that allows them to survive somedays, I swear :)

  • lynne

    I’ve just remembered why it’s not a good idea to go clothes shopping with children… when I was around eight I encouraged my mother to buy a seriously dubious hat, just because I thought it looked so silly. BAD, BAD child. Sorry mam.

  • erika

    you have to tell us which one you picked. i love the one with the wide waistband and the ruffly one right after. cayootness with some sexy shoes. :)

  • Kim

    The photos of Bug are so cute, my favorite is the Bug in a Bag. I hate shopping as well and I wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn’t. My girls, 10 and 12, have no patience when I shop for myself. They only want to shop for themselves. Have fun at the wedding and I love the suit you picked.

  • thejunebug

    One word: leash!! Once my nephew & niece got old enough to stick their button noses up at the stroller, my sister got a child leash. Sure, she got a few nasty looks, but the kids loved it – they could run around as much as they wanted – and my sister loved it because she never lost track of them. They’re 10 and 12 now, and they don’t show any adverse psychological trauma. ;)