Why I Still Do My Own Grocery Shopping
Last month I was out to dinner with a group of other moms. (Let’s just pause the story right here to give thanks for the blessing that is a kid-free Mom’s Night Out. Amen and hallelujah!) While waiting for our food to be served, the conversation moved, as it often does among moms, to the topic of household management. And as we discussed our various timesaving tips and household hacks (paid housekeepers, double-layered crib sheets, Marie Kondo’d dresser drawers, etc.)…
I discovered I was the only woman at the table of a dozen moms who still does her own grocery shopping.
As I listened to my mom friends extol the benefits of grocery delivery and curbside pickup, I could understand their enthusiasm. Nearly all of the other moms in this circle of friends work outside the home, or have multiple children, or both. Grocery-buying alternatives have provided some much-needed wiggle room in their schedules and released them from the horror of navigating crowded grocery store aisles with screaming kids in tow. These moms have even found that, in addition to preserving their sanity, outsourcing their grocery shopping saves them hundreds of dollars each year that had been going to impulse purchases. What’s not to love about that?!
I began to question my twice-weekly practice of schlepping my child to H-E-B.
Was my old fashioned habit simply a way of maintaining control over my grocery purchases?
After all, I am fairly OCD about banana ripeness and milk carton due dates, and the thought of handing those decisions over to a stranger is intimidating. But I was fairly certain there was more to my prehistoric shopping routines than some latent control-freak tendencies.
The following morning, as I lifted my four-year-old into the H-E-B car cart and saw that familiar race car driver gleam enter his eyes, I began to remember why I love our grocery store outings.
You see, I stay home full time with our son. My husband works long hours, and Charleston doesn’t attend childcare or preschool, so we spend a lot of time together; sometimes we need something as simple as a trip to the grocery store to break up our days.
Charleston and I take our time wandering the store aisles, me pushing the car cart while he steers. We stick closely to our grocery list (to avoid pesky impulse purchases) and comment on the items we place in our cart. Charleston practices reading the letters on sales signs and joyfully sings out the prices listed above each item, all while enjoying some tasty food samples that double as his mid-morning snack.
After checking out our items and making small talk with the cashier, Charleston politely asks for some Buddy Bucks, then dashes over to the Spin & Win machines to visit Buddy and win some stickers for his treasured H-E-Buddy Score Card. Our shopping experience has been full of learning opportunities and parent/child bonding. Most importantly, going to the grocery store has given us both some healthy human interaction as we’ve participated in a communal activity among strangers—a rarity in these days of online shopping and screen-based community.
Don’t get me wrong, our grocery store visits aren’t always so idyllic. We have the occasional meltdown over the candy bar or coloring book that doesn’t come home with us, and I’m not always as attentive to Charleston as I’d like to be as I rush through the store on an especially hurried day. But even these less-than-ideal shopping trips are an important lesson to my son that life isn’t always fun or easy. It’s good for him to take part in a rare outing that isn’t all about his personal entertainment. When we go grocery shopping together, Charleston and I are each doing our part to keep food in our refrigerator and meet our family’s needs. And in completing my own chores, I’m modeling responsibility and healthy adulting for my son.
I can’t promise that I won’t one day succumb to the allure of offloading my grocery shopping duties. For now, though, the benefits of our biweekly grocery store visits far outweigh the inconvenience. They are a healthy and important part of our weekly routine, and hopefully they will be a fond memory for my son to look back on in a hypothetical future when brick-and-mortar grocery stores have gone the way of the telephone landline and the VHS tape.