Since having kids, I’ve noticed many changes in the way I shop. Here are a few of them.
I Shop Realistically
Before I had kids I would shop with aspiration: buying lots of healthy foods in the hopes of doing things like make fancy smoothies, cook elegant dishes, and try out new recipes.
But gone are the days of having time to cook for hours, read cookbooks, or research nutritious snacks. I still try to eat healthy, but I also know that if I buy only foods that require a lot of prep, I’m going to be very hungry.
Now I buy things like cans of soup and bags of rice that can be steamed in the microwave in just two minutes. TWO MINUTES.
I also resign myself to the fact that I’m going to want to eat tons of post-baby-bedtime carbs and just buy frozen french fries and boxed macaroni and cheese. Realism is key.
I Do Aisle Research
Now that I have a child I always find myself using my smartphone to get information on different products while shopping.
I look up product reviews, text my friends to ask what they think, Google “side effects of (insert product name here)”, and, if everything comes up clear, am ready to be on my way.
Okay, okay. Sometimes I also read the company’s mission statement on their website just to be sure.
I Buy “Average” Products
When shopping for things like diapers, baby foods, or baby bathroom products, it’s easy to separate the products by quality. Take diapers for example.
I stare at the assortment of urine catchers and can place them into three obvious categories: good, better, and best. I consider the good and decide that I won’t go for them because for whatever reason in this moment I am imagining that the popular cartoon characters plastered all over are intended to hide the stain of the thousands of chemicals that were used in their making.
I then find the best diapers there, all shiny and set-apart. I cringe to see that they are being sold for my entire savings account because they are soft and gentle and made out of angel’s wings.
I hate both extremes more than I do the morning after a big debate, so I settle on the average, run-of-the-mill urine catchers because they are, after all, used for catching urine.
I Return Stuff I Don’t Need
Before I had kids, I used to have stuff I didn’t need in my house. There were things lying around serving no purpose and this was perfectly alright with me. I would buy stupid things knowing that I shouldn’t have, but once they made it inside the house, they were pretty much going to stay there.
Now I do this brilliant thing called returning things for store credit. If I come home from the store having purchased a roll of tape and realize we already have a perfectly fine roll of tape in the drawer, I take it back the next time I go to the store.
If I get pajama pants for Christmas that are too big, I don’t save them for some fat day in the future (even if I sort of want to), I ask for the gift receipt and take them back.
If I come home and find the coupon I had forgotten at home for the baby wipes I just bought, I take them back and use the coupon to buy them again. I end up with a fair amount of store credit in the end, but store credit at Target is almost better than money to me now and I’m not ashamed to say that.
I Actually “Come Back Later.”
When I used to grocery shop before I had kids, I would try and get it out of the way by getting everything I needed in one trip.
Sometimes I would see products that were a little pricey and claim that I would “come back later” when the price was more where I hoped it would be. But I would hardly ever remember to come back later or to check for that product when I did indeed return.
Now that I have kids I know that the grocery store is not a place I will forget about anytime soon. I have learned that no matter how much I prepare for grocery shopping, I will still run into some emergency, something I forgot, or something I didn’t even know existed, and need to come back to the store.
So I will actually “come back later” with 100% certainty. While that means I don’t ever feel quite as accomplished as I did in the past, knowing I had finished my grocery shopping for the immediate future, it also means I am able to shop more intelligently.
Knowing that I’m going to be back at the store within the week means I won’t end up buying things that are overpriced or not exactly what I’m looking for at the moment just out of convenience.
Instead, I will say I will come back later when they have what I’m looking for, and I actually will come back later when they have what I’m looking for. It’s genius.
I “Clip Coupons.”
It’s sort of a cliché to imagine moms clipping up coupons from newspapers. And maybe that really doesn’t happen as much as I thought before being a mom, but frankly, it probably should. Because it’s just plain smart.
I used to let all kinds of coupons and deals filter into my inbox without even noticing, but now I am careful actually to take note of when deals are going on and how I can save money on products.
I don’t wait on the edge of my seat for emails about cheap baby socks by any means, but I do search for recent emails from stores before I shop at them so that I can grab extra discounts while I’m there or plan my trip for a time when more things will be on sale.
Because if a little more planning could save me something like 50% on baby clothes I’m gong to do that planning.
I Go to Target
This has come up before, but perhaps the bottom line of all of this is that I go to Target a lot. I used to go to Target, sure, but when I became a mom they let me start paying rent there.
I used to go to Target, sure, but when I became a mom, they let me start paying rent there.
It has everything I need (baby food, wine, cheez-its, and Starbucks) in one place. So I only have to get my kid out of his car seat and into a cart one time. (This post is not sponsored by Target but if they wanted to throw a little store credit my way I would not be mad).