By Steve Davala
Every dad has heard it. You thought the kids would sleep in this morning. It's Saturday, after all. But there they are, knocking on your bedroom door.
You stumble out of bed, whip up some waffles with the kiddos, and then what? The wife is giving you that look. You know, the one that says "I've been with these %#&* kids all week and you better get them out of the house right now for at least two hours. Make that three."
Take the grocery list off the fridge. It's time to go.
Sound painful? Sure it is. But the kids will like it if you follow a few simple steps.
Go out early in the day
You're stressed enough as it is. Don't go out into public when there are hoards of others out on the road or at the grocery store. You'll enjoy the running around the store more when you don't have annoyed people without children giving you lip about your insane and/or obnoxious kids.
(This however, contradicts the "Free Sample" method where you go to Costco and don't feed the kids beforehand for a couple of hours or days. You can plan a trip around lunchtime to popular "sample" stores and thus eliminate the need to clean and prepare a meal that day).
Take those stickers off the fruits and put them on your kids' noses. Put one on your nose. See how long you can go through the aisles with it on. Popular dad "Mike" says, "I made it through the entire store. I almost backed down when I had to pick up my wife's tampons, but I held out. I actually forgot I had it on until the cashier pointed it out to me."
Don't forget those twisty tie thingies for the plastic bags. Kids love them. Get one or two and watch them go nuts.
And yes, you should put the kids in the cart, take a couple of quick steps, jump up on the cart and zoom down the aisles. I prefer empty aisles (see "Go out early enough in the day"), but some action-oriented dads like the challenge of the slalom afternoon courses.
Don't offer to play games like hide-and-seek. That stuff will backfire here.
Remember snacks are not bribes
In theory anyway. Yes, you should in fact offer to get them a treat if they "behave." Do the wife a favor, though, and make it a fruit stick. If you buy them Kit Kats or a donut, IT WILL ONLY ENRAGE HER.
Also, don't make the mistake of buying one for yourself. IT WILL ONLY ENRAGE THEM.
Some stores have a coffee dispenser for getting samples. Those red mini straws make a kid's day. It is not negligent parenting to give your kids a small cup of decaf with a little cream and sugar. Unpopular dad "Jim," unfortunately, made the mistake of giving them caffeinated coffee once. "No comment," was all he said as he pulled the kids down off the shelves.
Be patient and make frequent stops
You're not in a race. Really. I mean, what are you going to do when you get home anyway? It's not like you can have them watch TV. The wife already used up their weekly allowance of tube time.
There is probably a toy aisle in the store. Just let them loose for five minutes or so. Don't worry. You don't have to buy anything.
Candles are amazing.
Your kids will flip when you stop in the candle aisle of the store. Back and forth they'll go. Apple Cinnamon. Pumpkin Spice. Caramel Crème Brulee. It's a scent fest they just really dig. Child psychologist Dad "Bill" says, "The aromatherapy works on the kids' sensitivity and inundates their whine mechanism."
Unfortunately, you have to leave sometime, but if you follow this guide, you can push the time from 45 minutes to an hour with the kids before they start to melt. The promise of the fruit stick for the car ride home can buy you an additional 10 minutes max. Read my article How to Raise Your Family on a Teacher's Salary by Visiting Stores that Provide Free Samples and you will learn how to spend the whole day there.
In addition to killing an hour or two, you will also have achieved "bonding time" with the kids, as the wife puts it.
That means you will have solidified a Daddy Tradition that will continue for every Saturday until the kids hit middle school.
Wait, what have I done...?!
Steve Davala is a science teacher and father of two crazy children. He writes articles like this one between dragging his kids to the store, making meals, cleaning up, and letting his wife "rest" on the weekends.