Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What happens when I try to squeeze just ONE more stop in...

Yup, that's a clunky title.  But it's the only accurate one for today.

There is a LOT that goes into running the household.  Adam and I have typically split things up pretty evenly, but since he became the sole breadwinner and I made the house and family MY job, the majority of household management falls to me.

I actually don't mind this at all.  I have my routine to keep the house fairly clean, I'm home enough to plan meals, the girls have their schedule, and typically things run pretty smoothly.

The thing I'm struggling with right now is errands - which has ALWAYS been my job.  I'm the one who makes sure we have cleaning supplies and stamps and body wash.  The stupid silly errands like CVS and Target and the post office and dropping off at consignment and going to the dry cleaner.  Alone, I do just fine.  I group errands together and I can be very efficient.  But I don't like to spend my "time off" just running errands - I like to have some "me time" in there.  And some of these places require going out during a weekday.  With Madison I could usually manage pretty well.  I learned to spread my errands out and do one or two things daily so we weren't constantly in and out of the car.

But having two children with me complicates things.  Especially when one is nursing and one is newly potty trained.  Even without those factors, just getting two children in and out of the car (and car seats) can be a challenge.  Heck, sometimes getting two children, one of whom is still taking three naps a day, out of the HOUSE is a challenge.  Before the potty training I tried to tie one or two stops into our morning activities.  We'd go to CVS, then Gymboree.  We'd go to the dry cleaner, then the library.  Sometimes I'd be extra efficient in our planning and we'd run a lot of close errands all at once - I'd park between two or three plazas and we'd take the stroller.  After potty training that became a challenge.  We have the travel potty seat, but not all these establishments have public bathrooms...or bathrooms that a double stroller can fit into.  So I've had to get creative.

Today I thought I was being both efficient AND creative.  And it turned into a giant fail.

We don't have any activities scheduled on Tuesday mornings right now, so it's a great time for running errands.  Reagan usually wakes up from her morning nap around 10, and if I can get Madison to "go" before we leave, I've got two solid hours to get things done.

Today, I decided we would drive 35 minutes to the "good" mall.  The high end, fancy pants, in the town I used to work in mall.  The reason for this is that they are the ONLY place within reasonable driving distance that has a Disney store.  Madison earned a reward for potty training, and she's been really into these little Disney figurines.  We have all the princesses, and Mickey and the gang, but she's been wanting to act out some of the Princess stories, and she's been substituting for some main characters (for example, Goofy has been playing the part of the Beast, Mickey has been playing Cinderella's prince, etc).  While this is adorable and a good mark of imagination, she's been asking for the boys in these stories, so I thought another set or two of figurines would be a nice reward for this major milestone.

I have no idea HOW it happened, but one day she became obsessed with the Princess Corporation without even seeing their movies.  So much for avoiding this stereotype.

The problem with the "good mall", besides not being convenient, is that it isn't kid friendly.  There's no play area.  There's no family restroom.  There's no food court.  There's a gorgeous department store lounge that's perfect to nurse in, but it's also full of paintings and vases that are just itching to be destroyed by an impatient toddler.  And factoring in the drive, this would be the ONLY errand we could run, and it wasn't an important one.

Still, I figured I'd give it a try.  I fed Reagan, Madison did her business, I put on her traveling pants, packed up some snacks, and off we went.

The girls were great in the car.  Since it was late morning on a Tuesday, parking was a breeze.  I completely loaded up the double stroller and we got in and out of the Disney store with two sets of characters for Madison to play with without incident!  I even used a coupon!

Since that went so smoothly, I felt confident enough to wander the mall and use a few MORE coupons on things for me!  We hit Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works, even Victoria's Secret!  Reagan was scarfing down puffs, Madison was playing with Belle and Cogsworth and said hello to everyone we passed. I wasn't watching the clock, because we were really enjoying our time out.

You weren't looking at me, were you?

Around lunchtime they were starting to get a little antsy, so I stopped at Starbucks.  I bought a fruit and cheese plate for Madison and I to share, and I fed Reagan her lunch while Madison and I ate.  We made a stop in the restroom for Madison, who sat without complaint.  Doing great!  We were done at the mall, had been MORE productive than I anticipated, and everyone was happy!  What a good decision to take the risk to go a little further!

That's when I got cocky and made my fatal error.  I should have counted it as a win, loaded up my fed and tired girls, and gone home for nap and to do my Tuesday chore of the bathrooms.  But the girls had done SO WELL that I decided to stop at the Target down the street from the mall on our way home.  I had coupons and we needed a few things.  I didn't have a list, but I knew we didn't need much, so I would just do one QUICK loop around the store before heading home.  It would save us a trip!  The girls were doing so well!

Oh. My.

Things were going fine at first, although I should have noted that Madison was starting to go off her game when she declined my offer of popcorn.  She always wants popcorn.  I think she thinks popcorn and Target are connected - one doesn't exist without the other.  But I brushed it off and headed over to the card section.  We picked out a few, and as we were walking to the baby section she started to get SUPER silly.  Trying to turn around in the seat while buckled, trying to wiggle out of the buckle and stand up, turning around to steal Reagan's bink, things like that.  As I was looking at baby food and comparing coupons and prices, I pulled her foot back through the seat, like I'd been doing the past few minutes.  I figured she'd giggle, and I'd giggle back, and we'd continue as we'd been doing.

A different trip, but this is how we roll in Target.  I'm surprised I manage to fit anything else in the cart.  No wonder we go so often.

And she lost it.

Seriously, I'm shocked the police weren't called to find the child being tortured.  She was in a full throttle scream fest.  She was wailing so loudly that people were peeking out of aisles to stare and try and figure out what this mother could have possibly done to this poor little girl.

I did the "try to remain completely calm and not give into the tantrum" thing.  I spoke calmly to her saying things like "you sound very sad right now.  What do you need Mommy to do?"  She screamed back at me "I NOT SAD!!!!!!!!!".  I handed her Kai-Lan cup over.  She pitched it over the side of the cart.  I tried to hug her and stroke her back.  She flailed and pushed me away and screamed so loudly she sounded like she was choking.

Of course the one thing I really NEEDED was the dishwashing liquid and we weren't even at that part of the store yet.  So I dashed over and grabbed it as quickly as I could.  My goal was to get out of the store as quickly as possible.  Then we had the lines to deal with.  Since it was Tuesday afternoon, Target had ONE lane open.  ONE.  The line wasn't long, but it wasn't going to be a quick exit.

Madison continued her epic tantrum while I tried to laugh it off to all the staring customers (most of whom were walking by and pretending NOT to stare) and tried anything I could to make it stop.  Thankfully I was in line between two customers who told me they had two year olds at home, and both of them said something akin to "been there...sorry...looks like it's nap time".

I have no idea what I bought, didn't buy, or how much I spent.  I was so focused on getting out of the store as fast as possible I just swiped my card, signed before the total was even calculated, and was just grabbing the bags to make a run for it when the cashier (who I found out ALSO had a two year old) asked over Madison's screams, "You seem sad.  Would you like a sticker?  You can get a popcorn with it!" and my child instantly stopped screaming, sniffled, and said brightly, "Ok, thank you, Mrs. Ma'am".


We got the stupid popcorn and got into the car (we did NOT stop to use the potty one more time as I had planned - I would take wet pants over restarting the meltdown any day of the week).  At this point Madison looked like she'd been in a bar fight.  Her face was beet red from crying, her eyes were swollen from rubbing, her cheeks were scratched from her nails.  I buckled both girls in and they were asleep before we hit the highway while I decompressed with my friend on the phone.

All I was trying to do was save us an extra trip, and I bought myself an incredibly stressful end to our morning AND an extra trip anyway, since after sorting through the bags I realized there were still several things we needed.  I didn't get the bathrooms cleaned - since both girls were still asleep in the car when we got home, I left the car doors open, the door from the garage to the kitchen open, and did little things in the kitchen while listening for them to wake up. (Result:  They both ended up taking two hour naps...maybe I should put a monitor in the garage and let them nap there daily?)

Guess the solution is that when I clip my coupons and look at the store fliers on Sunday mornings, I need to take my weekly planner, and in addition to our activities, my cleaning schedule, and our meal plan, fit in which days I can do which errands.

A good lesson in what happens when I push too far...now the question is: How long before I do it again?

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