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Conquering the Dreaded Task of Shopping with Littles

Shopping with little kids, especially multiple little kids, is just painful. Mostly because you’re trying to accomplish 2 huge tasks at the same time: 1) finding/purchasing your goods/gifts/clothing, and 2) keeping your kids well-behaved (or training them to be well-behaved). Both of which are a job in themselves. 

The most difficult stage for me was when I had 4 daughters ages 5 and under. And with that many little girls, there are a LOT of questions. While I love conversing with my daughters, when I’m determining the best deal, finalizing gift decisions, or finding the right item it’s not the time to discuss why Costco is called Costco.

But what ate at me the most when shopping with littles had nothing to do with my children, and had everything to do with my fellow shopper who looks annoyed because I have kids. Is it just me? I don’t think I’m alone in noticing (at least where I reside in Orange County) that the general public has some type of disdain for children. Especially children who are in stores. 

I’m not talking about older folks looking at screaming kids and thinking, “those parents should get their kids in line” (because in that situation they are probably right). I’m talking about the lady who appears annoyed because she might have to brush past a child. I’m talking about the feeling that anyone in my fellow shopper’s way (especially a child) is seen as a nuisance. It may just be basic self-centeredness I see in the public arena, but it can feel like kids are quickly the target for irritation.

And I’ll be honest, I’ve been annoyed that they’re annoyed that I dare to shop in their presence with children. However, I realize my lack of grace towards them is probably just as large as their lack of grace towards me and mine. So instead of getting irritated, I’ve come up with 5 ways to train my mind to react in a godly way during these less-than-ideal experiences when children are the public enemy to be avoided.

  1. Expect to Feel Out Of Place.  As a Christian you are living with a particular set of values that are not shared by the culture at large. Therefore, in general you should expect to feel out of place — and valuing children is just one way that difference might manifest. In fact, some people might actually think you are crazy for having multiple children, but that’s okay. We will continue to see children as a blessing, and as souls worthy of investing in, even if the world sees them as something lesser. 
  2. Show grace. Show grace to your fellow shopper the way you want them to show grace to you. When they annoy you, put that annoyance aside, as you wish they would. And let’s remember, we don’t actually know what anyone is thinking. There could be any number of reasons people seem grumpy around you that actually has nothing to do with you.
  3. Prove you think children are a blessing. You may stand behind the mantra that your kids are a blessing, and you may get bothered by people who don’t seem to love kids, but does your patience and attitude towards your kids (or other kids) show you believe what you say you believe? Do you  get just as irritated as your fellow shopper when your kids get in your way? 
  4. Help your children be a blessing. We have to admit it makes sense when people don’t want to be in close quarters with grumbling, whining, loud, crazy children. Which is one reason (of many) why we need to keep training our kids to be kind, considerate, and obedient.
  5. Show undeserved kindness. Sometimes we just need to turn the other cheek and love our fellow shopper. Maybe they really do dislike you because you have too many kids. Oh well, show them kindness anyway. We are surely recipients of God’s undeserved kindness, so we should be able to show it to others. 

In one sense it can seem so trivial to think about what it feels like when you are out shopping. But shopping is a regular occurrence, which means you can regularly find yourself irritated at the irritable people around you. So lets turn it into an opportunity…an opportunity to show grace, to show kindness, and to make the most of the situation. With that said, may you be empowered and encouraged to graciously tackle your next trip to Costco with your littles! 

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