3. Running Errands is Nearly Impossible!
To people without children, going to the store to get a gallon of milk is a 10 minute process (unless you live far away from the store). The first time I decided to “run to the store” with an infant in tow, it took me about 30 minutes to first nurse, burp and change the baby’s diaper. Then I had to pack the diaper bag in case the baby pooped or spit up while we were gone. I spent another 10 minutes wiping spit up off my shirt, combing my hair, and getting the little darling buckled into the car seat and out to the car. Then I spent about four minutes driving to the store. Then it took five or so minutes to get the car seat out of the car and to navigate through the store. As I staggered around the store under the weight of the infant seat, I realized that I could not possibly carry a whole gallon of milk AND the 20 pound seat so I settled for a half gallon (which meant that I’d have to go through this same routine in about two days) and made my way to the register. Another few minutes went by as I got out to the car, un-strapped the baby from the car seat, did a complete wardrobe change as the child had pooped all over herself and then strapped the baby back into the seat. After a four minute drive home I spent another five minutes getting the baby, the seat, the diaper bag and the milk into the house. What should have taken less than 15 minutes turned into an hour-long trip!
Things ARE easier now that I no longer have an infant. But believe me, it is MUCH easier to run an errand solo than it is to take 4 kids along! I am not exaggerating when I say that it takes less time for me to to the store and back on my own than it does to get four kids out of the car, into the store to get milk, out of the store and back into the car. I am also not exaggerating when I tell you that one time I dislocated my thumb because I had to strap/un-strap my children from their cars eats TWENTY ONE times in a couple of hours. I had three children at the time -- none who could depress the seat belt latch on their own. I needed to run errands to seven different places so I had to strap and un-strap the children a total of 21 times in the space of three hours. A dislocated thumb sounds minor but I really could not function. Every time I picked something up, my thumb would give out and I would drop whatever I was holding. This is not a good thing when you are holding a baby! (Thankfully I never dropped the baby -- I learned to grasp him like he was a football. OK, maybe I dropped him once but it was not due to the thumb). When I went to the doctor about my thumb, I got the third degree. The doctor asked, “How did this happen? Are you in an abusive relationship? HOW did you do this? Car seats???” I really don’t think he believed me that my thumb was dislocated as a result of car seat overuse.
When I was working outside the home, I would stop on my way home from work to run my errands. Now that I work at home, I have to take one, two, three or four children with me. Of course I could always wait until my husband comes home and run the errands solo. BUT now that we have four children, we decided that whenever one of us has to run an errand in the evening, we have to take one child along. That way, each child gets a chance to have some one-on-one time with either Mommy or Daddy. This is such a popular event in our house that the children fight over who gets to go. We had to develop a system that we call Store Score. We have a post-it note attached to our family calendar that we use to keep track of whose turn it is to go with Mommy or Daddy to run an errand. Even so, there are usually tears involved because each child wants to go whether or not it is his or her turn.
No one ever told me that running errands with small children in tow would require the endurance of an Olympic athlete. Nor did they tell me that I would be willing to pay an inflated price for something, just so I won’t have to go to another store to get the item at a lower cost. You would be amazed at how much I am willing to pay for an item at Wawa, just so I don’t have to drive to the grocery store to get the same item on sale.