How to Shop at Target with a Toddler and No Money in 31 Easy Steps (A Not-So-Foolproof Guide)


how to shop at Target with a toddler

© 2015, Elizabeth Laing Thompson. A version of this article was first published on Scary Mommy’s The Mid .

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

1.Have a stern talk with yourself beforehand: I am only going to buy a package of coffee. Only. Coffee.

2. Take a child along. A 12-year-old boy dragged away from video games would do the trick, but the ideal choice is a toddler, preferably a potty-trainer in the thick of the Terrible Twos. (No longer have a toddler of your own? Borrow one from a beleaguered young mother—she’ll kiss your feet in gratitude.)

3. Enter Target. Feel something warm and tingly light up inside of you. Good thing you brought a toddler to keep you in check, because you recognize the symptoms: the beginnings of Target High.*

(*Target High: a euphoric state in which you gleefully buy everything you see at Target. Symptoms include dizziness, shortness of breath, giddiness and compulsive credit-card swiping.)

4. Strap the child into a cart. She starts whining, a Toddler Time Bomb already ticking. Hand her a cereal bar to buy yourself eight minutes.

5. Decide to take the long route to the coffee aisle, to avoid the temptation of the home decor section. Right away, you realize: This was a mistake. You have to pass the purses on the right… your eye wanders. No! Force yourself to look straight ahead. But then you hit…

6. The shoe section. Feel yourself sloooooowing doooooown, your eyes skating across sandals, sneakers, and—ooh! clearance boots! Surely a quick look at clearance boots wouldn’t hurt. (Glance down at the toddler. Half a cereal bar to go.)

7. Leave the shoes sadly, because they didn’t have your size. Brush wistful fingers across a beaded sandal. Whisper a promise: “You, me, next paycheck…”

8. Walk away with purpose toward the—ooh wait! A happy red sign over the juniors’ tees shouts “Sale!”

9. Five foggy minutes later, you wake to find yourself in the family-size dressing room. You’re not sure how you got there, but your toddler is still in the cart, licking an oozing jelly blob, and your cart is piled high with 36 items from the juniors’ department.

10. Blink to clear your head. Well, since I’m already in here and the baby is happy, I might as well try on these things. For next time I get paid.

11. Ten minutes later, shuffle out, feeling like an enormous cow. Remind yourself you have not fit into juniors’ sizes since… well, there’s no need to count years. Hand the attendant 35 of the 36 items; ignore her death glare.

12. Wipe smashed cereal bar off the toddler’s face as you steer past the exercise clothes. Pause. Maybe if you bought some cute exercise clothes, you would be motivated to work out, and then you’d feel better about yourself the next time the juniors’ department has its way with you.

13. The Toddler Alarm sounds, shrieking, “Me go potty nooooow!”

14. Sprint to the bathrooms. When you get there, sucking wind, it’s too late. She’s soaked. As you’re changing her outfit, it occurs to you: She really could use another pair of pants… I mean, as long as we’re here…

15. On the way to the baby and toddler department, you justify this detour by mentally itemizing all of your children’s stained hand-me-downs, and by making a pact with yourself: This is just a walk-by. I will only stop if I see a sale sign.

16. Arrive at the baby and toddler section. Gasp with delight: the tutus, the lace, the floral raincoats! Your ears start to ring.

17. The toddler squeals, “Let gooooo!” (In toddler speak, this means she has spotted something from Frozen.) Still gawking at raincoats, you hand her a stuffed Olaf to keep her busy. She’ll scream when it’s time to leave and you take Olaf away, but right now, all that matters is those glorious raincoats.

18. Toss 18 toddler outfits into your cart in 3.6 seconds. Tell yourself you will make up your mind when you get to checkout.

19. Head toward checkout, past the organization department. Blink. Chevron-striped bins! Just the thing for the gazillions of cell phone and laptop cords floating around your house. Drool gathers in the back of your mouth. Really, the bins would be an investment in your home and your sanity, because they would keep the toddler from chewing on the older kids’ cords… Toss three bins into your cart. You’re feeling shaky now, slightly buzzed. It’s official: You have Target High.

20. Round the last corner. What’s on that end cap? Mismatched bowls that look like Anthropologie dishes! Just yesterday your son destroyed your last snack bowl in a science experiment. Snatch up a set of eight, your heart humming with happiness.

21. Glance down at the toddler, busily gnawing on Olaf’s carrot nose. Oh, good. That nose-munching will give you three more minutes, because you just spotted…

22. An adorable serving tray! Just last week you were telling your girlfriend you need one, and this one is only $12.99! Trays usually cost $30, so really, you’ll be saving money if you buy now. Into the cart it goes.

23. The toddler makes a gagging sound. Panicked, you dig half of Olaf’s nose out of her mouth. She starts screeching, full voice—the Toddler Time Bomb has gone off. The entire store turns to raise judgmental eyebrows at you. Time to go.

24. Place the screaming toddler in a football hold and jog to checkout, pushing the cart with your free arm, sparing only a side-glance for the shiny blur of kitchen appliances flying past.

25. Pause before getting in line, suddenly noticing that your cart is overflowing. Where did all this come from? I don’t remember grabbing a paisley broom and a set of decorative hooks!

26. Dig around in your purse, find a lollipop and hand it to the toddler, who stops crying and starts licking.

27. Pull out your phone and check your bank account balance. Gasp in dismay. There’s no way, I could have sworn…

28. Reload your bank app. Same pitiful number.

29. Stand there debating. You get paid in six days, which means if you don’t go out for Starbucks and you pack the kids’ lunches… you can afford the raincoat and two of the little bowls. Oh, and Olaf with his bitten-off nose. Now you have to buy Olaf. Poof goes your Target High.

30. Push the cart into the checkout line (past three other women, also staring unhappily at their smartphones). Mumble to the cashier, “Um, we changed our mind. We’ll just take the raincoat and the bowls and the snowman.”

31. Shuffle outside. Strap the toddler into her car seat. Realize you forgot to buy coffee.


If you liked this post—first, my sympathies, fellow Target High sufferer—but then, you might also enjoy:

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Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness


handling life changes with grace and humor

Nope, that’s not a typo in the title. It’s the ETV (Elizabeth Thompson Version) of 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given you everything you need for life lice and godliness.” (Hey—I think my translation still suits the spirit of the scripture.)

I’ll take another liberty, this time with Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem:

‘Twas three days before Christmas, and all through my house, not a creature was stirring, except for a louse…

Yep. This Christmas, we got visited by more than just elves and Santa Claus.

It was December 22, 6:00 am. The night before, I had nearly killed myself to finish an intense editing job—I’d worked long hours for weeks on end, scrambling to finish with a few days to spare so I could shut down and spend time with my family for Christmas.

So there I was, the morning of December 22, finally free, and happy, happy, happy. For thirty-eight minutes, everything was perfect. I woke up before the rest of the family, smiling to myself in a dark and sleepy house. I brewed coffee, switched on peaceful music and the Christmas tree lights, and settled down on the couch with a mug and my Bible. Christmas had finally begun, and I was going to start it off right: alone with God.

A few minutes later, my daughter stumbled out, bleary-eyed and tousle-haired, and snuggled up beside me with her head in my lap. Happy, happy, happy, I sat there and prayed over her and stroked her hair.

And that’s when I saw it: a louse, scurrying across her head.

I should pause the story here to note that I am bug-ophobic in the extreme. And lice? My terror knows no bounds. (Don’t believe me? Read here: On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love.)

So you will be impressed—perhaps even amazed—to hear that I did not scream. I did not even gasp. But I felt my happy, happy, happy feeling skittering away, carried off by little louse feet.


Want more of Elizabeth’s work? Click here to preorder her next book, When God Says “Wait,” coming March 1 from Barbour Publishing! 


Within an hour, the whole house was awake and Kevin and I had kicked into Save-This-Christmas Mode. We called and made an appointment with the “Lice Lady” who had saved our vacation the last time the lice fairy paid our family a visit, when we were on vacation. Who cared if her office was a ninety-minute drive away? Christmas had to be saved. (I hereby pause this essay for a random proclamation: If your kid gets lice, hire a Lice Lady. Hock a family heirloom to pay for it if you have to. It will be the best money you have ever spent, except maybe for your epidural. Lice Ladies know what they are doing, and will help you get rid of evil bugs waaaaaaay faster than you could on your own. They will also help you retain your sanity, your spouse, and your salvation. Okay. Back to our story.)

So we stuck a shower cap on the Infected One, cancelled our big Star Wars plans with friends, loaded up the four Crazies in the minivan, packed enough snacks to survive a four-month covered wagon journey across the Oregon Trail, blasted Frank Sinatra Christmas carols, and trundled down the road to the Lice Lady. When we got there, our poor almost-three-year-old squealed with glee: “We going ice skating!” We had to break her heart and re-enunciate: “We are going to the LICE LADY, not ice skating. Instead of ice skating, you get to sit in a chair and let someone comb your hair looking for bugs! Woohoo!”

And so began the Great Christmas De-Lousing.

The first appointment was just the beginning. The afternoon at the Lice Lady’s office was followed by several days of laundry and hours of follow-up nit-picking, even as family members gradually filled our house for the holiday. (Paranoid family members, I might add, who were terrified—rightfully so, I’m not judging—of hugging us.)

But you know what’s great?

I didn’t lose it. I didn’t cry one self-pitying tear. Not even when my dryer decided not to help me dry the 4,000 loads of laundry I needed to do when we got home. I didn’t lose my temper, or snap at my husband or kids. I didn’t flip out, not even behind closed doors. I just rolled with it. I even laughed about it. I’m kind of gawking at the computer screen even as I type these words, because this is not normal for me.

Through the Christmas Lice Fairy Visit, I realized that by the grace of God I have grown this year. God has pounded a profound life lesson into my thick head (a louse-free head, in case you were wondering), and apparently, I have listened and started to learn:

I am beginning to accept that life is messy. Things do not go according to plan, pretty much ever. If we wait for our whole life to be perfect to be happy, we will be waiting forever. We will grit our teeth through a series of disappointments, and only find peace and joy when we make it to heaven. That’s not how God wants us to live.

The secret to a joyful life is appreciating what we have, when we have it, for as long as it lasts. Not placing rules or restrictions on our happiness—rules like: “I can’t be happy until…” or “I won’t be happy unless…”

Nope. That’s not how joy works. That’s just a recipe for disappointment, frustration, and unhappiness.


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We find joy in spite of the mess.

In the midst of the mess.

Sometimes even because of the mess.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 puts it, “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I’ve come to accept that there will always be something wrong with our life. Something we wish was better, or different, or…whatever.

There was a day—two years and nine months’ worth of days, actually—when I couldn’t get pregnant, and I would have gladly given my right arm to have a house filled with lice-infested children. I never want to forget those lonely days.

If we can learn to roll with the unexpected, to adapt on the fly, to appreciate what we have even though there are things we lack, to “laugh at the days to come” instead of fearing them (Proverbs 31:25)—better yet, to laugh at the days that are, even when they go so completely wrong…then we can do more than just survive life. We can enjoy it. We can thank God for it. We can be a person we’re proud of being, in all kinds of circumstances.

So if I have a new year’s resolution this year, it’s this: To keep on rolling with the punches. To stop waiting for perfection. To stop expecting smooth sailing. To accept, embrace, and even laugh at the mayhem of the unexpected.  To be happy now—no asterisks, addendums, or alterations.

And to braid my daughters’ hair, and spray it with mint spray, every day from now until eternity.

Happy new year, y’all. Here’s to the madness.

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While You’re Making Other Plans

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By This Time Next Year: A Christmas Miracle

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up

5 Simple Ways to Bring God into Your New Year


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“I’m a Big Kid, No Wait, I’m a Baby” Syndrome


getting rid of pacifiers via @lizzylit

Don’t let the title fool you: this isn’t exactly a parenting post.

Two weeks ago, we got rid of pacifiers for the last time at our house. (Sniff sniff…I can’t believe we’re almost through the baby stage forever—it’s killing me.) The first night went swimmingly—not a single cry or complaint, just an angelic “Night-night, Mommy!”—all thanks to Sawyer’s initial thrill at getting to sleep with a toy for the first time. She gave me her pacifiers, I gave her a giant stuffed Olaf to sleep with. That’s our rule, by the way: No toys or stuffed animals in the bed until you get rid of pacifiers. This simple policy has given us some leverage in convincing our little pacifier addicts to surrender their passies. But back to our story.

That first morning, two-year-old Sawyer woke up all smiles and bragging rights: “Me a big girl now! Me give up my passies!” The first nap also went beautifully—not a single cry. So for about 23 hours, we were like, “Whoopee! We got off so easy! What an angelic child! Lucky us!”

We spoke too soon.

The second night, I put my daughter in her bed and tried to tuck her in. She did not lie down.

Instead she handed me Olaf and said, “Here, Mommy, take Olaf. Me want my passies back.” When I attempted to explain in two-year-old terms that the pacifiers had a no-exchange, no-return policy, her little face melted. There was a long pause, the calm before the storm. And then the wailing started… and nine days of sleepless misery began. (To add to our joy, my husband’s back went out the same day, leaving him in excruciating, debilitating pain. Isn’t that just the way of it?!)

The next afternoon during “nap time” (a.k.a. “scream-until-you-lose-your-voice-and-then-dig-down-deep-and-find-a-way-to-scream-some-more” time), I went in to check on Sawyer, and found her lying naked in a naked crib. Everything was on the floor: pillows, sheet, blankets, clothes, Pull-Up, even poor Olaf. Sawyer just lay there, a pale little girl on a stark white mattress, and gave me a tired, watery smile. In a pitifully hoarse voice she croaked, “Me pooped in my crib.” I stared down in dismay at the tangle of sheets and blankets, wondering where, exactly, the poop was hiding. Wondering where Carson and Anna and all of my household staff were when I, Lady Elizabeth, needed them. Wondering why oh why we had ever decided we needed to get rid of pacifiers when they are the most blessed invention ever granted to sleep-deprived parents.

And as I began the world’s grossest-ever scavenger hunt, Sawyer supervised my work (still naked in her crib) and announced, “Me not a big girl anymore. Me a baby.”

getting rid of pacifiers via @lizzylit


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I had to walk out of the room so I could laugh-cry at her (you know those moments: the I’m-so-exhausted-and-this-is-so-revolting-that-I-can’t-decide-if-I-should-laugh-or-cry-so-I’ll-do-both moments), and somewhere mid-laugh-cry, I started laughing at myself. Because the truth is, I’m not so different from my daughter. It’s not her fault she’s so stubborn. I’ve done something similar many times in my life—only I’ve done it to God.

Some days, life is good: Things are… not exactly easy, because life is never easy, but they’re manageable, pleasant, and as predictable as life can be with a visionary preacher-husband and four crazy kids in the house. And on those days I’m all gratitude and smiles. I’m like, “Thank you, God! You’re the best! I love my life. I love being a Christian. I love knowing that you guide me through my days. ‘Your rod and your staff, they comfort me’ (Psalm 23:4). Thanks for all the ways you are helping me to grow and mature.” I’m a big girl, God!

And then something changes.

Maybe it’s something big: a friend’s serious illness, a major financial setback, a heartbreaking disappointment. Or maybe the change is on the smaller side, one of those things that isn’t catastrophic, but ruins your plans and steals your joy nonetheless: hurt feelings, a sick kid (or two or three or four), a broken-down car.

All of a sudden, life isn’t so shiny anymore. I don’t want to be a grown-up anymore. I’m not a big girl, God. I’m a baby! I stop short of stripping off my clothes, but even so, I know that God sees me as I am, in all my unadorned glory:

“Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” (Psalm 139:2)

I toss all my toys out of the bed and give in to dark thoughts. When God comes in to check on me, he finds me lying there pouting: “This is harder than I thought. I wasn’t ready for this. I want to go back to the way things were, when life was simpler. I didn’t realize what I was getting in to—you tricked me, God!”

And in those moments, I have a choice to make: I can scream and fight God until I lose my voice (knowing full well that I’m wasting my time, and God’s), or I can give in and let him guide me through the change.

Like Sawyer, it usually takes me a few days to work my way through it. I have to cry and complain to God a little. I have to wrestle with the Scriptures a lot. I have to talk to friends who are wiser and more rational than I am. I have to write about it and process it on paper. I might have to apologize to my visionary preacher-husband and four crazy kids.

But in the end, like Sawyer, I end up giving in and quieting down. I let God have his way with me. Eventually I admit, “Okay, you win. You’re the dad, I’m the daughter, and you know what’s best.” I’m a big girl again. Eventually I find joy in experiencing my own growth, knowing my heavenly Father is proud of me. And at long last, like Sawyer, I sleep peacefully through the night, knowing God is watching over my dreams.

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In case you missed it, here are the first two videos in the new LizzyLife YouTube channel: Building Family God’s Way, and First Comes Love! (In spite of my crazy eyes in the thumbnails, I think you’ll enjoy the videos!)


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What Moms Say Vs. What Kids Hear—post and podcast!


parent-child communication

This week I’m over at Bonbon Break (a mom site I adore!) offering a “Communication Guide” for all those times when you wonder if you actually speak the same language as your kids. You can either read the post, or . . .  wait for it . . . LISTEN TO THE PODCAST, my first-ever one! Woohoo! To hear the dulcet sounds of my voice (I’m kidding about the dulcet part—am I the only person who feels totally weird hearing herself speak?!), you have a few options, listed at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

What Moms Say Vs. What Kids Hear

Moms say: “The answer is no.”

Kids hear: “You should ask me again 18 times.”

Moms say: “Please stop making that noise.”

Kids hear: “That is my favorite noise ever. I’d like to hear it 500 more times.”

Moms say: “I’m going to take a shower now.”

Kids hear: “This would be a fantastic time for you to crack open the bathroom door with your eyes squeezed shut and ask me life-or-death questions like. . .”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

To hear the podcast, you can: 

listen right here from LizzyLife, by clicking on this fancy player doodad:

Or you can:

listen on STITCHER.

listen on iTunes.


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When Your Kid Won’t Stop Whining

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On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

You Can Go Now, Mommy

Before you leave, don’t forget to sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter. Recent newsletter topics have included 5 Ways to Help Siblings Become Friends and 6 Simple Ways to Teach Kids to Walk with God. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to Do Around the Breakfast Table with Kids!

 


20 Things that Do Not Go Together in the Parent-Kid Universe


things that don't go together via @lizzylit

I usually write lists of 13, but when it comes to the parent-kid universe, there are sooooo many things that don’t go together—eventually I had to make myself stop at 20.

  1. Motherhood and white pants.

  2. A wad of toilet paper and the washing machine.

  3. Carpet and Play-Doh  Kool-aid  milk  children.

  4. A five-month-old in your arms, and dangly earrings in your ears.

  5. A grumpy baby and a crowded airplane.

  6. A child with a runny nose looking for a snuggle, and your best black shirt.

  7. A trip to Target and a barely-there bank balance.

  8. Potty trainers and public bathrooms.

  9. Poop and Pull-ups.

  10. Poop and swim diapers.

  11. A potty trainer who needs to poop (but can’t or won’t tell you they need to poop), and a nice relaxing bubble bath with their sibling… Okay, I’ll stop with the poop theme now. Sorry. It’s just, some days it seems my entire life revolves around poop. @lizzylit

  12. A bowl of apples on the table, and a hungry toddler who has learned to climb.

    IMG_4525

  13. Pacifiers and babies with stuffy noses.IMG_1736

  14. Toddlers and food.@lizzylit

  15. Toddlers and sand.things that don't go together via @lizzylit

  16. Toddlers and “no.”Strategies for dealing with whiny behavior in children

  17. Toddlers and paint.toddlers and markers

  18. Toddlers and crayons.When plans go wrong

  19. Toddlers and makeup.Baby Gaga

  20. Toddlers and pens.when you give a toddler a pen

See what I mean? We could go on like this for days. The point is: Babies and toddlers and the real world . . . a messy, dangerous, but hilarious combination. No wonder we’re so tired. Let’s all go take a nap.


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Before you leave, don’t forget to sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter. Recent newsletter topics have included 5 Ways to Help Siblings Become Friends and 6 Simple Ways to Teach Kids to Walk with God. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to Do Around the Breakfast Table with Kids!