Like many moms, I have a love-hate relationship with Target. I love it when I’m shopping there by myself, and I veer cataclysmically toward the “hate” end of the spectrum when accompanied by my children.
Oh come now, you may be thinking, it can’t be so bad. Well, if you’re thinking that, I assume you either do not have children or you deserve to host the next season of Super Nanny. I would really like to become friends — mainly so you can watch my children while I go by myself to Target. Because, yes it can be that bad.
Here are 10 ways shopping at Target is worse when you are with your children.
The amount of time it takes to get into the store:
Without kids: Park your car wherever you happen to find a spot. Get out of the car. Walk to the store. Enter.
With kids: Circle the lot to find the spot where your children will be least likely to hurl themselves into oncoming traffic. Unstrap everyone. Warn them six times about the busy parking lot. Carry one child while holding the hands of two other children (it’s tricky, but can be done) so as to get to the sidewalk safely. Spend 15 minutes waiting while your children attempt to mount the large red spheres outside. Enter.
The Starbucks experience:
Without kids: Treat yourself to a hazelnut latte to keep caffeinated as you blissfully peruse the aisles. You deserve it!
With kids: Do not approach the Starbucks. The kids hot chocolate is a powerful bribe to get your children through the trip. Hopefully you caffeinated up at home. You’re going to need it, because of …
The distance you need to traverse:
Without kids: By and large, you walk in a sensical, linear path, without too many unplanned detours.
With kids: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT walk by the toy aisles. The toy aisles which, by the way, happen to be positioned directly in the middle of the store, and neighboring every aisle that contains the items you came to Target for.
The amount of time spent looking at toys:
Without kids: Maybe you’d take a spin through a toy aisle on your way to electronics, reminiscing fondly about your old Easy-Bake Oven.
With kids: Say you happen to possess magic abilities and can avoid the toy aisles. It still doesn’t matter because it turns out all of Target is one big toy aisle — it just takes going to Target with children to be able to appreciate this.
From the moment you enter, you are deposited right in front of “Bullseye’s Playground.” If you somehow manage to get by it unscathed, there are still items emblazoned with your children’s favorite characters throughout the store. Even the seasonal decorations look like toys. You can run, but you cannot hide. The toys will find you.
The tears shed:
Without kids: I went to Target for years before my children were born. Years! And not once did I cry. Well, maybe when I was like eight-months pregnant and they didn’t have the maternity hoodie I saw online, but I think I can still blame that on children.
With kids: Even the most well-behaved children hit a “no” threshold, where they feel they have been terribly wronged by your refusal to buy them a life-sized Darth Vader. This is the time to bring out the hot chocolate bribe.
The number of rest breaks:
Without kids: Probably in the zero to one range.
With kids: Probably in the zero to one-every-five-minutes range. Avoiding the toy aisles is exhausting, man.
The number of things you buy that have Star Wars characters on them:
Without kids: Again, probably in the zero to one range.
With kids: Fourteen thousand.
The number of things you buy that have no characters on them:
Without kids: You can find really cute, affordable women’s clothing at Target. I know this, because at one time, I used to be able to buy myself clothes from Target. I could even try those clothes on if I wasn’t sure about the fit. If they didn’t fit, I could try on another item.
With kids: None. Unless you count wipes.
Without kids: Idly scan the chocolate bars before pulling out your phone and checking your email.
With kids: Run defense, big time. Talk about that hot chocolate you are going to get at Starbucks. Say no to the M&Ms. Point out the mirror on the ground. Say no to the fruit snacks. Ask your children not to lie down on the floor. Say no to the batteries. (They are batteries, for crying out loud.) Tell your children to stop. Just stop.
Getting back to the car:
Without kids: Exit the store with a bag in each hand. Walk calmly to your car and get in.
With kids: Rest overladen bags in the crook of your elbow while carrying the baby, two hot chocolates, and still holding two other children’s hands. Spend 15 more minutes on those damn red spheres. Avoid traffic, barely. Go through the strapping process. Hand hot chocolate to children with admonitions not to spill. Clean up spilled hot chocolate. Make silent vow to never return to Target with children. Or at least not until they outgrow their new pairs of shoes. Which will take approximately eight minutes.
See you at Bullseye’s Playground next weekend, friends.