There are some things in parenting life that you just LOVE no matter what. Like baby wipes! And there are some things you just hate, like carving pumpkins! But there are also things that lurk in the grey area between love and hate, and here is where the Mini Shopping Carts reside.
Now, not all stores have these (ed note: THANK GOD) but a lot of them do, and I swear my children have a sixth sense to knowing which stores have them and exactly where to find them. In case you are like "Wha??" the mini shopping carts are those super adorable miniature metal shopping carts that grocery stores have designed to make shopping with a small child...easier? More hazardous? A nightmare?
Here's the love part, for me. First, like I said, they're so cute, right? And when you have the extra time (and I mean A LOT of extra time) at the store and the store is relatively empty (pro tip: go when nobody is there. Try 6am) it is so cute to let your little one be the "shopper in training" and push their own cart. Take it up a notch and give them a little list (I've never actually done this but have thought about doing it like a thousand times) to get stuff on their own. Here's another pro-tip: DO NOT give them free reign to just put stuff into their cart unless you want to have a toddler meltdown over the fact that you aren't buying $65 worth of sprinkles. I speak from experience.
But, again, it's cute and teaches them responsibility...kinda? I mean, as far as you think you need to actually train them to push a shopping cart? And I suppose it does help keep them entertained in the store, if by "entertained" you mean constantly almost ramming your ankles with a tiny metal shopping cart, but I was talking about the pros here wasn't I?
Forget it, let's move onto the cons. Now, I guess I already mentioned the ankle ramming part, but that really warrants a second mention. I think I have actually developed PTSD over the years thinking my children are going to ram the cart into my ankles, it has happened to me so many times. If you see me in the store and one of my children are pushing a mini cart, I can guarantee the first words out of my mouth are "DO NOT RAM ME". Like, for real children, please don't ram me. Mama no likey. And if they are only ramming YOUR ankles consider yourself lucky, because the only people who dislike the ankle ramming more than yourself are perfect strangers who happen to be passing you in the cereal aisle. They kinda frown upon that.
Now, I don't know about your kids, but once my three year old gets behind the "wheel" of the mini shopping cart she starts zipping through the aisles like she's the next contestant on Supermarket Sweep and I'm just trying to keep up with her/prevent any collateral damage. I feel the need to point out other shoppers to her saying things like "See, that lady isn't running through the store, right?" while nodding at the stranger like go along with this for me please.
Another big con is something I did mention before, but it's the time suck. The big GIANT time suck that is walking through any store with a toddler/going anywhere with a small child/toddler. Tack on a good, oh...45 minutes onto anything that you're doing, I like to call it the "Toddler Time Warp". Do you live 15 minutes from the doctors office? Make sure you "get ready" an hour ahead of time because your three year old might decide they need to put their socks and shoes on by themselves (I DO IT!!!) and next thing you know you are considering rescheduling because it's getting dark outside. Same thing goes for the grocery store, especially when they feel like they have free range and are in charge of their very own cart. DO NOT attempt to hurry a small child through the grocery store with a mini cart, you are in for a world of hurt if you don't let them take their sweet time.
Now, all that being said, the stores with the mini carts are my favorite, because sometimes they are the bargaining chip I need to actually get my child into the store without fighting it. And when I'm in the store alone and see another parent with a "shopper in training" I give them a clear pass through the aisle, because I've been there sister.