Anxiety & Grocery Shopping With Children

Today I am supposed to go grocery shopping, the kids are back at school tomorrow and ordinarily I would just do it then, however I need to buy Mr 14 some new clothes as he is growing like a weed and he needs to try them on, I have been putting it off all holidays.

As a mother of four children I have developed a relatively regular routine during the school term which helps the family function as well as keeping my bipolar fairly stable. I am forced out of bed rain, hail or depression to take the kids to school, I feed/clean the animals, exercise for 60 minutes which quietens my eating disorder voice, then I have to shower as I am too sweaty not to and tick off a ‘to do’ list of household chores while getting my social interaction through Twitter & blogs.

School holidays throw me right out of whack, I tend to have trouble sleeping at night then fall asleep around 4am until 10am and often don’t get a chance to exercise until the evening. I have less opportunity to write, other children come and go from our house and I am expected to socialise in real life with real people often over meal times. The disruption in routine triggers mood swings and the lack of control flares eating disorder behaviours and somewhere in between I have to make time for grocery shopping.

My husband has difficulty understanding why I have so much trouble taking the kids out of the house to go grocery shopping, they listen to him better than they listen to me, they don’t seem to beg him for things the way they beg me and while I know this is due to lack of consistency on my part simply the thought of the impending outing sends my anxiety skyrocketing.

Grocery shopping is an anxiety trigger for me at the best of times, my eating disorder dramatically impacts the way I shop. This is better at the moment than it has been in the past as I now eat different meals to my family, generally the same three things week in week out, and that helps me feel calm enough to purchase pre-determined ‘safe’ foods for myself without having to stop and read the nutrition panels 100 times.

Nowadays I shop on Mondays, I pre organise the week’s meals and have a shopping list that I stick to which is written out in the order that the aisles go. I can buy the food for my family without worrying too much about it as I know I am not going to be eating it anyway. I stack things in the trolley so they are easy to unpack onto the register, I still get anxious but I have my system and it works for me.

When I throw taking children with me into the mix it complicates my routine, they of course want to help, which should be wonderful except that they run off in different directions getting things and throwing them into the trolley at random while I desperately try to organise the items into their ‘proper’ place. I know this is my problem not theirs, it’s a control thing.

Then the kids inevitably start asking for items not on the list, we are on a fairly tight budget since I haven’t been working and maths isn’t my strong point at the best of times, let alone when I am in a busy supermarket trying to rearrange a trolley and being asked 4 different questions from 4 different children.

I tend to say yes much more often than I should, this started when they were very young because I couldn’t stand them having tantrums in public because I felt so embarrassed and harshly judged. As they have grown the tantrums evolved into whiny incessant begging which turns my already anxious brain to complete mush, they have learned if they beg hard enough and stress me out enough they will eventually get what they want.

My husband simply says ‘No’ once and they leave it alone, because they know he won’t change his mind. He doesn’t understand how I am intellectually aware of this hole I have dug for myself but my anxiety impacts my ability to put my foot down and start climbing out of it. Usually by the time we leave the supermarket my anxiety is through the roof and I am swearing blind that I will never take them out of the house again, I get angry and shouty and shaky.

So it’s 1pm and I have been putting this shopping trip off since around 9am but I’d better go soon or I’m going to run out of time as it takes over an hour just to get there. I woke up angry and stressed and this was followed by lots of things that could go wrong going wrong ie accidently dropped a glass, broke the dogs ceramic water bowl, spilt coffee all over me… I was kind of concerned that if I left the house I would probably be in a car accident or something.

I feel much calmer after writing this though and Hubby has said that I can drop the younger kids off at his workshop and just take Mr 14 to get his clothes and the groceries so I’d better stop procrastinating and go. Wish me luck!

Do you take your children shopping with you?

If so, what coping techniques do you use?

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