Having a baby makes everything harder. Taking a shower. Cooking dinner. Carrying on a moderately intelligent conversation. And—at least for me—grocery shopping.
When my son was really young, the challenges were largely logistical, like how to plan our trip around nap times and feedings, how to fit groceries in the cart when his car seat was taking up most of the space, and how to safely get all of the groceries into the house along with my infant. (My solution: Baby in one arm, a few bags at a time in the other. It took a while.)
Then it got worse. At 9 months, my son took his first steps and became very anti-shopping cart. He was a lot more interested in wildly pushing the cart into displays or roaming (OK, running) while I tried to shop.
Bribery with snacks didn’t work. He wasn’t interested in my phone. So every grocery store trip very quickly devolved into a battle of wills between me and my toddler—and I always lost.
For a while, I just avoided the grocery store altogether. We ate a lot of takeout. But as my son started eating more solid foods—and I gained more pounds than I liked from too much pad Thai—I realized that I couldn’t stay away from the grocery store forever. Or could I?
I decided to try curb-side pickup, which my local grocery store offered for about $5 per visit. It felt a bit frivolous and indulgent, but I quickly fell in love with the convenience of having someone else do the shopping and load it into my car. That I could time it with my son’s afternoon nap and swing by the library drive-in too made it even better.
But then, a grocery delivery service launched in my town—and one of them was offering a free trial.
3 ways to avoid a grocery store meltdown One evening, after the baby had gone to sleep, I sat down on the couch and created my grocery list while half-watching Game of Thrones. I scheduled the delivery for the next morning and went to bed.
The next day, right on time, a smiling woman knocked on my door and carried my groceries into my kitchen, placing them on the island while my son perched happily on my hip. I may or may not have done a happy dance when she left.
I’ve now been using a grocery delivery service for a few months. I can hardly believe how great it feels to no longer endure the stress of weekly trips to the grocery store with my son. It’s also saved me from some tricky situations, like the time we had no food but a massive snowstorm rolled into town. Or the time we were returning to an empty fridge after a three-week trip, and I was able to order my groceries from the airport the night before so we’d have half-and-half for our coffee and bananas for the kiddo the next morning.
Funnily enough, grocery delivery has even made me a better cook. All those recipes on Pinterest I forget that I want to try? It’s super easy to add the ingredients to my grocery list while I’m fiddling with my phone, which means I’ve become much more likely to experiment with meals and avoid falling into food ruts at home. (Of course, cooking with a toddler underfoot presents its own set of challenges, but at least I don’t have to deal with them under the scrutiny of strangers.)
Grocery delivery services aren’t free. Depending on the service in your area, you may pay a membership fee, or a delivery charge, there may be a mark-up on your items, and you’re usually expected to tip. I estimate that I spend about $20 per delivery—an amount I felt guilty about until I realized that for me, the service is just as much a form of self-care as a manicure, spin class or brunch with girlfriends.
Maybe as my son ages I’ll overcome my grocery store phobia. But then again, I’m not sure that I want to. Skipping that weekly time suck is one of the best self-care investments I’ve ever made for myself, and I don’t see that changing when my son learns to sit still. I’ll gladly DIY my nails and make my mimosas at home if that means I can have this little indulgence, as mundane as it might seem.