Tips for Managing a Solo Trip to Target With Five Toddlers

I did it! I took all five kids out to Target by myself!! So many quad moms in my Facebook group take their kids out, and so I’ve thought, “well, if they can, I should be able to also!” Then last weekend Brian and I took the quads on some errands while Easton was at school. We were at Walmart and then a strip mall, and we just put all the kids in one shopping cart there. We even managed to stop in at Panera for some take-out lunch! So that got my wheels turning, and I figured if they could all fit in one cart, I could take them out myself.

So I’ve been wanting to go to Target for a while. I love the clothing and bags and things they are showing on their commercials! I decided today was the day. I just couldn’t bear another day at home. I had a coffee, so I was feeling energetic. My father-in-law helped me get their shoes and jackets on, and we loaded them in the van.  Needless to say, it was an interesting and educational outing.  On the course of our trip, I learned some Do’s and Don’ts for managing this type of trip alone:

DO pack a diaper bag. I already had one dirty diaper by the time we pulled in the parking lot!

DO park next to a cart return that has at least one cart in it. That way you don’t leave the kids unattended in the van.

DO realize that adding a 3 ½ year old to the mix is a game changer. Five of them can’t fit in the cart together!

DO plan on getting lots of smiles, looks and inane comments.

DO be proud when people tell you how beautiful your kids are.

DO plan on at least one trip to the bathroom to change a dirty diaper.

DON’T be surprised when your potty-training child has to go pee when you are all the way across the store.

DO plan on selecting and opening a treat to reward said child’s toileting success.

DON’T leave snack out for toddler to snack on while you are distracted talking to a friend you bumped into.

DON’T forget snacks for the others! I figured I would just grab something off the shelf if I needed to feed them, but if I was in a store that didn’t have food I would have had some unhappy babies.

DO have enough water cups for all four babies. I couldn’t find the other two, so they had to share. (Note: toddlers do not like sharing)

DON’T buy sippy cups with your kids. Or if you do, store them under the cart so they cannot be tested out and thrown when the kids realize they are empty.

Which leads me to my next one:

DO go to a store that has under-cart storage. When there are 4 toddlers in the cart, there isn’t much room for stuff. Plus, there are some things you don’t want them to get their hands on, like picture frames with glass.

DON’T expect to remember everything you saw in the commercials that you wanted to look for. Best have a list on your phone or write it out and keep it in your pocket.

DO get the most important things first, because you never know when you might have to leave. I left clothing shopping for me until last.

DON’T plan on trying things on in the dressing room. Just plan on buying whatever you are interested in and trying it on at home. You can always run back to the store when you have a babysitter! Or that could be your next outing!

DO make sure you have your debit/credit card or cash before leaving your house. You don’t want to get to the register with a full cart of kids and stuff and see the empty spot in your wallet.

DO sign up for the store credit card when you realize you have forgotten your debit card. You save money, and you don’t want to have to leave without your hard-earned stuff and have to come right back with that card!

DON’T forget you have a backup credit card in the van.

DON’T refuse help to get to your car when it is offered.

DO make sure your bags are secured, and don’t dump out in the road while cars are waiting for you to cross.

DO make sure your toddler knows not to run away from you when you are picking up your purchases from the road.

DO thank the good Samaritan who honks to let you know you still have items in the road as you hurry to your car.

DON’T leave your cart full of kids behind a running vehicle while you run back to retrieve the dropped item.

DO breathe a sigh of relief when all kids are buckled in their car seats.

DO stop at McDonald’s when you decide you don’t feel up to preparing lunch after the Target debacle.

DON’T get in the drive-thru line at McDonald’s when you don’t have your debit card on you.

DO pat yourself on the back for remembering you have a backup credit card in the van!!

DO enjoy a good laugh sharing your experience while your kids throw their chicken nuggets and fries on the floor.

DO enjoy your Shamrock Shake while your kids take a nap!

There – I hope this helps some of you out there.  I know I learned some valuable lessons on this outing, and I can’t wait to try again!  It really was energizing and empowering to be able to take the kids out all by myself.  We’ve really gotten cabin fever with all the cold and snow this winter, and it’s good for all of us to get out.

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