Being a mom of two under two was the most exciting, yet complicated, phase of my life. And I faced some serious mom struggles every time I needed to go grocery shopping.
Before you become a parent you think running errands is easy. You have two hands, a full cart to fill, and no problems. But with kids, you have to time things perfectly, accommodate them on your cart, worry about their safety at all times, entertain them, and still do your groceries.
I’ve been lucky to not have had any major issues or disasters other than a few embarrassing moments here and there. With two kids under two, the logistics of grocery shopping got very complicated for a while and I had some serious struggles. Motherhood has made me extra creative!
Main mom struggles of shopping with two under two
Some of the main struggles and concerns I’ve encountered shopping with two under two so far include common logistics and straight-up mom fears.
- How do I seat an infant (in a car seat) and a toddler into one shopping cart?
- Where do I put my groceries when my shopping cart is full of children?
- How do I get my two kids from the car to the shopping cart?
- How do I seat two toddlers in one shopping cart?
- What do I do when my child sees me get something they want right away?
- How do I keep my child from getting bored and having a fit?
1. How Do I Seat an Infant and Toddler in One Shopping Cart?
In the past, I would take advantage of family visiting the baby to sneak in a quick grocery trip on my own. However, now as a two under two mom, the struggles of taking two kids to the store with me became overbearing, especially during the two under two phase.
I had a hard time just thinking about how to place both my kids in a shopping cart. My already existing ability to overthink every detail was massively heightened now, much like my other Mom Senses.
Kidnapping Fears While Outing with Two Kids
As a paranoid parent, my fear of kidnappings is so much greater as a mom of two.
There are too many stories of strangers snatching kids out of shopping carts and running off. This is why I strap my kids into the shopping carts every time.
I even worry about strangers passing by in the parking lot as I’m getting one kid out of the car. They could easily take my other child and get away. I know the chances are probably slim. But things happen all the time. So I will do my best to avoid ever living that nightmare!
When I had just one child, this didn’t concern me as much because I could drop whatever I was doing to protect my son. But with two under two, it’s much more difficult. I’m only one person with two hands and two eyes, it is my job to keep them both safe.
It’s these two under two struggles that drove me insane! So that’s why I had to come up with the safest method possible.
My Shopping Cart Logistics for Newborn and Toddler
Although my oldest was a walker, there was no way I would let him walk around the store while I pushed the shopping cart. It would be very difficult to keep an eye on him, keep both kids safe, and focus on my shopping. And he’d probably end up grabbing things off the aisles and make a mess- as any curious toddler would.
Couldn’t you just use your stroller? Sure, though I’ve rarely seen it. But you lose trunk space in your car to fit both the double stroller as well as groceries. And it’s also quite difficult to contain your groceries within the stroller while shopping.
Here’s how I resolved my two under two struggles with shopping cart logistics: Using a regular shopping cart, I sat my oldest on the front of the shopping cart and put my infant (in the car seat) in the main part of the shopping cart. Together, they took up all the storage space of the cart. It was my only decent option at the time.
So then came my next problem, where do I put things?
2. Where do I Put My Groceries if My Cart is Full of Children?
With my toddler taking up the front basket and the car seat taking up the main part of the cart, I was left with the bottom rack of the shopping cart for shopping. Which doesn’t fit much. These tiny spaces were big two under two shopping struggles.
On days when I didn’t need to buy a lot, my limited storage space was enough this was enough though.
Like I said, I had to get creative!
I realized that the handbaskets fit underneath the cart. So I would utilize one or two to store some of my smaller items.
And certain things I could put on either side of my toddler in the front, which also doubled as entertainment for him. Others I could fit in the tiny crevice next to the car seat in the main area of the cart.
On the way out of the store, I would often have an employee help me carry everything back. They’d bag everything into a different cart, which they’d take all the way to my car. While I put the kids in the car they would unload the groceries.
3. How Do I Get My 2 Kids From the Car To the Shopping Cart?
Another part of my paranoia and anxiety kicks in this next set of two under two shopping struggles. Getting my kids in and out of the car gives me so much anxiety because of the open space. Inside the store, there are more obstacles and witnesses to prevent a kidnapping, but not outside in the parking lot. A kidnapper just has to take a few steps to get to grab my child and take off in their vehicle.
So my next mom struggle was how to plan and avoid any open opportunities for kidnappers with two under two. And to always keep an eye out for my surroundings as well as both my children. I might need to grow some extra eyes! That’s one Mom Sense I wasn’t able to grow.
Car to Cart and Cart to Car
Getting two kids out of a car doesn’t seem too difficult. But when you add up the time it takes to unbuckle a 5-point harness, get each child out of the car, place them safely into a shopping cart, and then get the other kid, anything can happen! And while you’re on one side of the car, the opposite end is out of your reach.
A stranger can quickly pass by and grab your child out of the car or shopping cart while you’re walking around the car. And you may not notice for up to a minute or two!
To make matters worse, I often had to leave both my kids in the car to get the shopping cart. And though I hated the idea of leaving them alone or locking them in the car, it was better than the potential alternatives. I died inside EVERY TIME!
That’s not something I would normally do when with one child. But having two under two kids with me made it so much more complicated. One had to be carried by car seat and the other could barely walk. Last I checked, I only had two hands and car seats are quite heavy. It was a serious mom struggle!
If those two under two struggles and logistics weren’t enough to figure out, I also had to plan the quickest and best way to get them each out of the store and into the car. This was something I thought through over and over, many times! And at different growth stages to come up with the best solutions as well.
When my daughter was still an infant and I had to carry her around in her car seat, I had to get her out of the car and into the cart first because it was easier to put the car seat in with the front basket closed. Only after putting her could I fix the basket seat to put in my toddler. Getting back in the car was the reverse order, the same set of worries plus groceries to load and more time ticking.
I sound utterly insane, right? We do what we can to keep our children safe.
4. How Do I Seat 2 Toddlers in a Shopping Cart?
As time passed, and I no longer needed to carry my youngest in the car seat, my options grew. But then the ‘two under two shopping struggles’ became a ‘two toddler one seat struggle.’
Thanks to carts with two toddler seats and steering wheels I can sit my kids together. They fit comfortably and are both entertained by the cart, plus I can fit a bunch of groceries!
These days I don’t always go to the store with them because I often take advantage of the time one of the grandmas comes to visit to run errands alone. But my kids absolutely love going to the store now just so they can “drive.”
If your local store doesn’t offer these I’d highly recommend having a nice conversation with the manager about helping out some grateful parents.
5. What Do I Do When My Child Sees Me Get Something They Want Right Away?
Every mom struggles with their child wanting something they see and having a fit about it. With two under two, it can be the toddler wanting a snack or the baby having cravings. Either way, it’s extremely stressful!
I’ve recently struggled with my food-hungry daughter (as a toddler) a couple of times, where she wants food straight off the shelves or our cart. And I think this happens most when she is actually hungry.
Toys and snacking are always decent solutions. Everyone does it!
If I ever get to a point where I can’t calm my child down I will probably have to give them a snack.
Snacking has always brought on a set of problems and struggles, especially with two under two. Snacks can ruin a child’s appetite, be a little messy, cause a battle between both kids, or sometimes cause your children to be needier of your attention. But, a lot of times, snacks are a great distraction option while shopping.
Some stores, like our favorite, Publix, offer free cookies to kids. You could also stop by the deli and get something sliced and have them try it (mom hack!), make sure you get enough for the whole shopping trip just in case.
Fruits are also great options.
If you need to, you can even open a bag of pretzels or something off of the snack aisle as long as you pay for it.
You could also bring a snack tray or snack container, or even strap on a universal stroller organizer directly to the shopping cart.
The best solution to avoid snacking though is to make sure your child has a full tummy before going to the store. I’ve made the huge mistake of taking my child down the baby food aisle just before lunchtime and ended up with a hungry screaming child who wanted her food pouches immediately.
Toys and Distractions
When my child sees me grab something they want right away, I’m usually in trouble. But if my child is distracted or I’m quick enough to hide the item into my cart I’ve won the battle.
Digital devices are not ideal for children under two or for establishing patient behaviors but are often a great distraction. If you opt for a digital device, I recommend looking into providing educational options for your child.
6. How Do I Keep My Child From Getting Bored and Having A Fit?
Every mom wants the answer to this question!
For now, I have this issue “resolved” on good days because I don’t take my kids with me for every grocery trip but also because they entertain each other.
Prepare Your List In Order
With two under two, one of our main outings struggles is time constraints. The toddler is going through some emotional changes, likely unwilling to stay still or sitting for long. And the baby needs regular feedings, diaper changes, and naps.
So the timing of your grocery trip needs to be perfectly planned and your time inside the store needs to be short. I find that keeping a list of what I need to get at the store makes things quicker and smoother.
Better yet I arrange my list in order of my store’s isles. I start from one end of the store and make my way to the other end, getting everything I need on the way to avoid wasting time going back and forth between isles.
This way, I can be in and out of a store in thirty minutes, which limits chances of boredom and impatience. It takes a little time to memorize where things are in your store and doesn’t always work when you’re getting something you’re not familiar with.
Offer A Snack or Distraction
Another thing I will occasionally do, either at the beginning or the end of our grocery trip, is to get a free cookie for the kids. I don’t like to do this often because I don’t want to spoil their appetite, but primarily, I don’t want them to expect a cookie and only behave if they get one every time we come to the store. I want them to understand it is a reward.
Interact With Your Child While Shopping
Sometimes when I notice my kids getting bored I try to move the cart down the aisle, pretending we’re racing and swerving. Other times I have my oldest (who talks more) tell me what he sees around the store or maybe “help” me find things. I’ll even let them hold and shake boxes of pasta or cereal to make music, as long as they don’t rip them open.
Sometimes kids get bored because they feel uninvolved. A little conversation or game-play can easily liven up their mood and get you out of the store quicker.
Pick-Up and Delivery Alternatives
I have had a few days where the weather was unbearable and I couldn’t go out shopping with two kids under two. And days where either I was too sick or one of my kids was sick and I needed groceries right away. These added struggles to the existing listed above left me with basically no options.
Some of those days, my husband was able to stop by the store and grab a few things. Other times, I used Instacart to get my groceries delivered to me by my local stores. There are other companies that do the same as well, like Shipt, and may even offer a yearly membership option.
I was skeptical about it at first, especially about the selection of meats and produce but I was happily surprised. Granted, I did have to pay approximately $6 in delivery fees, taxes, and add a tip (which I could apply after receiving my delivery). The app was really well put together and I could set up my shopping cart in advance and edit whenever I wanted.
Since we enjoy going to the store, we mostly utilize it for these “rainy day” occasions. But for some families, having a membership for regular grocery delivery is a fantastic option.
Some stores, like Walmart and Target, also offer pick-up options in a similar fashion, where you can set up your cart online and simply pick it up. I know that some you have to walk in but others have a drive-up option, which sounds awesome. However, I have not needed to try these myself.
** Covid Update: I live off Instacart as well as Target Drive Ups now! **
Here are some methods that may work for you for seating and entertaining your children. Some of these I have tried for a while and some I found more recently and would’ve loved to have tried while my daughter was still a baby.
- Baby Wearing
- Booster/Floor Seat inside the shopping cart
- Buggy Bench
- Shopping Cart Baby Hammock
- Use your Stroller
- Use Hooks & Reusable Shopping Bags for Storage
- Toy or Bottle Tether Straps for entertainment or snacking
- Order something at the Deli (they give you slices to try)
- Order something at the bakery or pick up some freshly cooked chicken
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My name is Paula and I’m a mom of two scrumptious cuties. Thanks Mommy Blog became a project for me to help guide other new moms and current moms through any of my own personal experiences and struggles. My hobbies include singing, doing jigsaw puzzles, baking, designing and trying to stay creative.