It’s Not All Mary Poppins

In which Mary kicks temporal ass

You know, I will never understand people who say they can’t go grocery shopping with a toddler.

One toddler? One??

Pshaw. That’s practically ALONE.

We bombed out of the house this morning, Tyler (2.5), Noah (2.75), Nissa (2), and Lily (16 months), all four in the stroller, because Mary was in a HURRY. We left at 8:45 and had to be back by 10:30 for Emily’s arrival off the Junior Kindergarten bus at 10:45.

Fifteen minutes’ grace is what I call “cutting it close”, because with toddlers, even toddlers all safely strapped into five-point harnesses… you just never know.

The mall is a 15-minute walk away when I’m on my own. Pushing 35 or 40 kg, I’m not sure how long it will take. I’m pretty sure two hours will do it (there and back, I mean) but today we are not strolling. We are motoring.

(I wish this thing did come with a motor, come to that. You should SEE me powering that thing, fully loaded with four, up a hill. I don’t maintain my girlish figure sitting on the couch eating bon-bons. But some days I do dream about a little motor that would give me a boost. Just for the hills…)

The toddlers love it when I power up a hill, because to make it up a good hill? It helps to get a running start. Speed up on the flat. Dig your toes in and take short, fast steps as the hill steepens. With any luck, you don’t grind to a halt a metre before the top.

I have that dark fear in a back corner of my mind. Slowing, slowing, sloooowing, STOP, inches from the top, and then the inexorable slide backward.

It’s never happened, but you worry about these things when you’re behind 75 pounds of toddler. There are also some hills around here I just don’t tackle. There are some hills I make one or two get out and walk.

But not today! Because I’m in a HURRY! So we POWER up the hill, we run, we speed, we DIG IN … and the children squeal with excitement! The THRILL OF IT ALL. (Toddlers are speed demons, one and all.)

“That was FUN!”
“That was FUNNY!”
“FUN, funny,
fun, FUNNY,

Oh! The adrenaline rush!!!

They play call-and-response with “FUN!” for the next five minutes, eliciting outright laughter from passers-by. Who can’t at least grin at the sight of four smiling babies, three of whom are carolling “FUN, FUN, FUN!”??

We arrive at the mall. EIGHTEEN MINUTES. Three extra minutes because of the 35 or so kilograms I’m propelling.


I’m also sweating a bit. Heh. The walk has moved from ‘light’ exercise to ‘moderate’. I’m calculating points in my head. I think I’m earning myself a Mike’s on the porch after work. Mwah-ha.

Into the mall.

“Are they all yours??”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

In the grocery store, we collect our craft supplies. (But of course. What else could possibly make a daytime trip to the mall, not my all-time favourite destination, a necessity?)

“Are they all yours??”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

We have rainbow-coloured muffin cups. Tyler, in front, hold those. (THOSE will, with the addition of some pipecleaners and tape, become pretty spring flowers.)

“They can’t all be yours!”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

We have large Zip-loc storage bags. Noah, second, carries those. (Put a dollop of chocolate pudding in those, squeeze out all excess air and seal tightly shut, and you have reusable finger paint medium.)

“Are they all yours??”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

Lily, in back, is asleep now, so nothing for her.

Nissa, third, carries a tin of tuna. Bet you can’t figure out what craft that’s for!

“Don’t tell me they’re all yours!”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

And I pop 4 litres of skim milk in the basket at the bag. (That’s for me and my girlish figure. And my not-so-girlish bones.)

“Are they all yours??”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

I stop at the bank to deposit some cheques, and we leave the mall.

“Are they all yours??”
“No, it’s a daycare.”

It took… 26 minutes. Not bad!

And off we power home. Three blocks from home, I take the toddlers out. Lily slumbers blissfully on. They can walk because we’re 45 minutes ahead of the bus (can I stick to a schedule OR WHAT?)…

and there’s a freakin’ enormous hill between me and my home. Well, enormous if you’re pushing 35 kg of toddler. Perfectly reasonable if they’re propelling their own selves.

We arrive home with 35 minutes to spare.


April 28, 2010 - Posted by | crafts, Ottawa, our adoring public, outings


  1. I always think of how funny it is when moms drop off their kids and rattle off their list of errands they are going to do now that the little one is in daycare…..meanwhile, those same little ones are coming along with me to do almost the same list of errands.


    Comment by Kathy | April 28, 2010 | Reply

  2. Much more fun then a lunch time workout.

    Not that I’m defensive or anything but I would much prefer taking friends’ kids shopping then my own. They listen much ‘faster’ to me then my own (sometimes) do.

    That said, today I will be picking them up from daycare/preschool and taking them grocery shopping.

    Every five minutes we get

    “Are they twins??”
    “No, they are 23 months apart. Yes. Really! I promise”

    Doesn’t it make you wonder how parents of real multiples manage not to break out into a scream every so often. “YES! THEY’RE TWINS/TRIPLETS/QUADRUPLETS!!! IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW?

    Comment by MB | April 28, 2010 | Reply

  3. 🙂 I’m always mystified by those people who say shopping with small children is difficult too. I hardly ever make it to the store without my 3 in tow. They know the rules, they help my find my list, I don’t really know another way to shop. I even take them with me when I’m buying myself clothes from time to time. Though that’s admittedly trickier.

    My three were homeschooled for the first several years, so, like you, I pretty much never shopped without them, and, like you, I never gave it a second’s thought. It’s just what you do. More than that, I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) their company.

    Comment by carrien (she laughs at the days) | April 28, 2010 | Reply

  4. Mary, I love reading your blog. I was a daycare provider for four years and reading this reminds me of some of the “epic” errands I use to run.

    Pulling 3 in a wagon, holding one in a sling, and holding the hand of a big girl, hurrying to meet a parent back at home!

    Or the time it started to pour rain one block from the library = RUNNING while piggybacking a 2 y/o, pushing a stroller with one hand, and encouraging four “big kids” to run alongside me!

    We always had fun. 🙂

    I’m laughing at the picture. If it rains while we’re out? Unless it’s a miserably cold rain, I don’t rush. I figure we’re going to get wet, anyway, so why sweat it? We just sing all our rain songs as we walk in the rain. And yup, we usually have fun! 🙂

    Comment by Mamacrab | April 28, 2010 | Reply

  5. Back when I took 6 under 5 out and about, who ranged in colour from blonde blonde to dark brown, I could never really understand why people bothered asking if they were all mine. Yet they did.

    I used to deliberately take them shopping for groceries because they didn’t get to do it otherwise. It was a fun outing! And never once did I buy them a treat, and never once did they complain – though the craft/cooking activities we did with the purchased items helped with that!

    Thanks for the memories Mary.

    You’re welcome!

    Emma (my 16-year-old) and I often play “Work that Womb!”, trying to figure out how all these children could possibly come from one weary woman. “Well, Emily is four. If Noah and Tyler were 3-year-old twins, and then Nissa is two, and Baby Lily and (the new new baby who doesn’t have a blog name yet because I’ve yet to mention him) were 1-year-old twins…”

    If that were true, I’d be certifiable, I’m sure. And then we fall about laughing. It’s a Fun Game!

    Comment by Maisy | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  6. What kind of stroller do you have?!
    Your question inspired my next post. Read and know!
    and lol at the “are they all yours?!”
    are you going to spill the beans on the tuna?
    Ha! Forgot about that! I mean to, at the end of the post! Okay, I’ll post a follow-up in a minute!

    Comment by Gillian | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  7. I’d be more scared of the downhill bit, with that much weight in the stroller.

    It has brakes. Good ones. 😀

    Comment by Mwa | April 29, 2010 | Reply

  8. I work at a demo stand in a grocery store and I’m always shocked by the horrible behavior parents let their children indulge in. I really appreciate reading your blog because it encourages my backbone. I only have one so I don’t feel like I know what parents of multiple kids have to put up with, but I know that I don’t let my son behave like them.

    My biggest issue is shopping cart safety. I’ve seen children fall out and gash their foreheads. I saw a baby in a carseat launched out of a cart by their older sibling hanging on the side. That ended well as the baby landed seat first, but it was terrifying. My coworker saw a little girl lose some fingers when she fell out against a shelf(they were able to reattach them). Another coworker saw a little girl break both legs.

    Whenever I see a child standing up in the cart with no parents I immediately RUN to that child and stand by the cart until the parents return. When I see a child standing in a cart with the parents holding on I warn the parents not to let go and to watch their child closely. Parents think I’m being paranoid or judging their parenting, but they haven’t seen what I’ve seen. I HATE it when they tell me, “I can’t get him/her to sit down”

    Our carts clearly say that no child may be anywhere but in the child seat with the seat belt strapped and the parents holding on, but my store won’t support me in enforcing that except if the child is standing up. MOST parents don’t use the seat belts at all. Also the weight limit for children on our carts is 36lbs and I see huge kids in the carts all the time. My son’s upset with me because I won’t let him ride anymore, but he’s just too big.

    Thanks again for blogging with a backbone 🙂 and using the right equipment for shopping with multiple kids 🙂

    Comment by Ariel | May 3, 2010 | Reply

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