Shopping Cart Safety

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I take my daughters’ safety very seriously. When parent friends were turning their kids forward-facing in the car as soon as they hit their first birthday and 20 lbs, I kept mine rear-facing until they were well beyond two years old and beyond the minimum weight to be turned forward-facing legally. In fact, I would have kept them rear-facing longer if I were as good then as I am today at standing my ground with my (now ex) husband. They were in 5-point harnesses until the end of second grade, and only moved to boosters because their grandparents said that they didn’t feel comfortable installing car seats in their car.

The reasons for keeping young children in rear facing car seats are well documented. I won’t bother going into them here.

Car seats and grocery carts aren't designed to fit together. Consider placing a seat in the main part of the cart instead of across the handlebar and seat area.

I’ve read the manual to every car seat we’ve had, all the way through. The Graco Snugride. The Britax Marathon. The Diono Radian. The Graco Turbobooster. The Graco AFFIX. Yes, I keep all my manuals and refer back to them often enough that I know where they all are. I’m that person who read the entirety of the manual to my sewing machine before I loaded the first bobbin.

The Snugride manual said nothing about my infant bucket seats not being safe in shopping carts… and I made the mistake of assuming that they were safe. Sure, I’d seen the carts with built-in baby seats and figured they were handy for a lot of families. My two babies weren’t going to fit in that one seat, though. I was so proud of having figured out that I could fit one car seat in the child seat area and the other seat sideways across the main cart area. I had plenty of room for the actual groceries under the cart.

Shopping carts can pose a safety risk for young children. Educate yourself.

In the years since my daughters have outgrown bucket seats, I have learned a lot more about car seats and shopping carts. I’ve read all about the tragic death of 3-month-old James Anderson Berg in a car seat/cart accident. It’s not terribly uncommon for carts to tip. This video, despite its happy ending, is terrifying even for those of us who wouldn’t dream of leaving a 5-point harness unbuckled.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Do not place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.” They have some relatively ridiculous “safer ideas” (at least for this home cook and single mother of twins) about leaving kids at home when shopping, but the rules are solid.

If you decide to put your child in a shopping cart anyway, then follow these rules:

  • Place your child in a safety belt or harness at all times when in a shopping cart.
  • Never leave your child alone in a shopping cart.
  • Do not let your child stand up in a shopping cart.
  • Do not place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.
  • Do not put your child in the basket.
  • Never allow your child to ride on the outside of a cart.
  • Do not allow an older child to climb on the cart or push the cart with another child in it, because it is very easy for a child to tip the cart over.

Although we never suffered an accident, I wouldn’t put a baby seat in a cart’s seat area if I were to do it over. The Jenny Evolution has some ideas for dealing with singleton infants at the store, and you can check out our thoughts on making it through a shopping trip with multiples.

I encourage you to educate yourself and take a second to think about how you’re comfortable using shopping carts for your infants. They’re a wonderful convenience, and it’s not too hard to use them safely.

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Fear of Mascot Costumes

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My daughter M is a pretty well-adjusted 7-year-old. She has faced and coped with her birth defect with more maturity than I think I could have mustered in her place. She has one fear, though, that we’ve struggled to overcome for years now. She has a fear of mascot costumes. Specifially, she is terrified, paralyzed almost, by people in costumes that hide their faces.

We have talked about her fear ad nauseam. M is very aware of it being irrational and is able to describe the parameters of her fear very clearly. She is afraid of mascots if the costume obscures the face and she doesn’t know who is inside. She was fine this Halloween because everyone she saw in a face-obscuring mask was with a family in which she could place their role. She was okay with the local production of The Little Shop of Horrors because we were able to meet the actors before the show and see how the costume fit. She’s okay with her school mascot because she knows which members of the school staff wear the costume.

My favourite grocery store, HEB, recently opened a new store wonderfully convenient to our house. We were out shopping for last minute Christmas dinner fixings on December 14 when I caught sight of the store mascot, H-E-Buddy® walking the aisles, giving kids high fives.

I didn’t stop to get a video myself. Instead, I positioned myself to ensure that M’s back would be to the costumed employee and quietly said to M, “Sweetie, there’s a mascot here. What do you want to do?”

I could see her try to steel herself, but her words still came out in a scream. “Get away, Mommy. Don’t let him see me.”

We ducked down the nearest aisle, M begging me to check out immediately. I reminded her that we still needed to pick up our Christmas ham and chicken. This would be our last chance to shop.

Grocery shopping took far far longer than usual, as we chose where to walk based on whether H-E-Buddy would see us. J and I took turns scouting out whether it was safe to go around the next corner. At one point, M squeezed into the space between an ATM and the adjacent wall while I stood in front of her, hiding her existence while her sister got a cheery high five.

“M,” I asked her, picking her up, “Don’t you know I won’t let anything bad happen to you?”

“You always protect me,” she said through her tears, burying her face in my shoulder.

That’s why I let our ice cream melt in our long convoluted journey through our grocery trip. I can only help my daughter overcome her fears as long as she trusts me. In the short term, it means treating our Christmas grocery quest like a game of Pac-Man.

We’ve already worked through many of M’s fears. We no longer have to drive by new performance venues days before we go to see a play or musical performance. We no longer need to cross the street to avoid small dogs; she asks owners permission to pet puppies now! She now willingly goes trick-or-treating with her sister instead of begging to stay home to avoid people in Halloween costumes. She even rode on a bicycle without stability wheels and was proud of how long she stayed on instead of screaming about falling off.

Eventually, I believe that M will meet enough of the people inside mascot costumes that she can push her fear aside. Until then, I’ll continue to seek out ways for her to meet costume-wearers in their everyday clothes and help her avoid her demons.

I’ll always protect her.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Foodie Fridays: Saving Money at the Grocery Store

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Food: you need it; you crave it; you can’t live without it. But, food is one of the biggest on-going expenses of our lives.  When blessed with multiples, your food costs also seem to multiply! ldskatelyn and MandyE are sharing what they have learned about saving money at the grocery store through couponing and price-matching.how to afford twinsCouponing – by ldskatelyn

I have been regularly couponing for over a year now, and I am amazed at how much money we have saved.  From January to August of this year, we have saved almost $600 using coupons.  That is some serious savings!  We use coupons on groceries, toiletries, cosmetics, paper supplies, laundry, cleaning supplies, and even at restaurants.  I am a sucker for saving money.  I love it!  I am not an extreme couponer, but I have been able to (finally) build up a little stockpile in our apartment.

Here is a brief overview of saving money at the grocery store with coupons:

  1. Subscribe to the Sunday Paper.  The small cost will be far outweighed by the savings. I promise.
  2. Sign up for mailing lists (with a non-personal email account) and print coupons from sites like coupons.com, couponnetwork.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com, bettycrocker.com, kelloggs.com, pillsbury.com, pgeveryday.com, rightathome.com, and armandhammer.com.  You can also like your favorite brands on Facebook for additional coupons sometimes.  Also, many grocery store’s loyalty cards can be loaded with digital coupons.
  3. Get your coupons organized.  I use a basic accordion file folder to store my coupons.  Some big time couponers use binders. I used to use just a few paper clips.  The point is to be organized so you can find the coupon you need, when you need it.  Put them into categories that make sense to you. Also, go through your coupons at least once a month to throw away expired coupons.
  4. ONLY use coupons for things you actually like or normally buy.  Coupons will not save you money at the grocery store if you use every coupon you clip, just because “you had a coupon.”  Clip smart, and only use coupons on products you already use or love.  If you don’t normally buy Hamburger Helper, then don’t buy it now.  (Well, you can use coupons to try out new products from time to time.)
  5. Save your coupons for when the item is on sale, otherwise buy generic.  Often, we like to think that our coupons will make what we buy a great deal.  But, it isn’t true. Generics, bulk buys, and store-brands will most likely still be a better deal if you aren’t using your coupons on TOP of store sales.  Coupons are for name brand products.  Name brand products cost more than store-brand products.  Coupons only save you money if you are getting a better deal, after its use, than the going store-brand cost. Stacking coupons on top of great sales is how extreme couponers walk away paying next to nothing for products.  It’s also how you can stockpile on your favorite non-food items.
  6. Make a “buy price” list to build a stockpile.  Figure out what is a great price for local produce, dairy, cereal, meats, and so on and compile a list of them.  Then, when you see a sale for less than that price, buy them in bulk!  Freeze the food, store them around your apartment, and enjoy saving money overtime.
  7. Use your coupons correctly and legally.  Did you know coupons are getting less valuable, and that part of that reason is because of extreme couponers, and people using coupons incorrectly?  Know your store’s coupon policy.  Some stores double or triple coupons, or stack coupons, but most don’t.  Some will allow you to use both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon on the same item.  Do NOT buy coupons from on-line sources, or go past a site’s coupon printing limit.  Do not sell your coupons to others. Do not try to use both a digital coupon (loaded onto a shopper’s card) with a paper coupon, unless specifically allowed.   Read the fine print on coupons and use the coupon only for the product or products specified.  Don’t substitute.  And don’t use expired coupons.

Price Matching – by MandyE

I shop using coupons, as well, and I usually record about $25 a month in savings.  The bulk of my grocery bill is usually spent on meat, dairy, and produce, though, and I rarely find coupons for those items.

To save on what we buy most, I take advantage of Walmart’s price matching policy.  While Walmart’s prices are generally pretty competitive, some other chains run a high/low price strategy, where they will offer a few items at a considerable discount.  Walmart will match the advertised price from any local competitor, allowing me to take advantage of those sales without running from store to store.  (Click HERE for Walmart’s corporate policy.)

Every Sunday, I sit down with a stack of sale papers for the local grocery and drug stores.  I make a list of sale prices for items that we like.  Occasionally I find prices on packaged goods, like cereal, crackers, or cheese, but the bulk of my price matches are on produce.

For example, Walmart currently sells pineapples for $2.98 each.  A local store was running pineapples on sale for $1.00 last week…you’d better believe we ate our weight in pineapple!

At the cash register, I simply say, “I’d like the price from XYZ Store on this item.”  The cashier may reference the sale paper from that store, and then she rings up the item at that price.

We eat a LOT of fruit and vegetables every week, so I save an average of $20 a week on produce alone!

In addition to the awesome savings, this policy allows me to do one-stop shopping, which is so very helpful to a mom of small kiddos.

To the tips that Katelyn outlined, I would add that I keep a spreadsheet of my weekly savings.  It takes a few extra minutes to go through my receipt when I get home, but it’s so rewarding to see how much money I’m saving our family.  It’s definitely motivation for me to continue the effort…and it occasionally serves as justification for that trip through the Starbucks drive-thru!

ldskatelyn is a stay-at-home mom to twin girls and a baby boy.  While her husband is in charge of bringing home the bacon, she pays the bills and manages the finances. She prides herself in making ends meet, saving money, cutting costs, and getting great deals.  It was her idea to put together this savings week because she is so passionate about money.  Find out more about her life at What’s up Fagans?

MandyE is mom to 4 1/2-year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

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