The Seven Stages of Going to Target with Children



1. Denial — I need to go to Target. I have a child. We can do this. It won’t be like last time or the time before or the time before that one. We will go in for the toilet paper and the milk that we need and leave with the toilet paper and the milk. There will be no tears, from either one of us. This time will be different.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

2. Anger —  Why me? Why is this happening again? Why do I breed children who are completely unable to make it through a freaking store without completely melting down? This is bullshit. I can’t stand my fucking children.

3. Bargaining —  How about if we stick to the Dollar Spot? You can pick out any toy from there! OK, TWO toys! A glow stick! And a plastic pail! Or, a pad of paper and some stickers! Or, a Cars pen and a foam sword! So cool! The Dollar Spot rocks! Candy? You want candy? OK, M&Ms it is! The breakfast of champions! Cookies? Sure! How about it?! I beg of you .. I’ll do anything … Just don’t melt down.

4. Guilt. What have I done to end up with a child like this? Was it the formula I fed him? The pacifier he sucked for way too long? The co-sleeping? Late potty training? Why is he so toy-dependant? Does he not get enough affection? Enough love? What am I doing wrong???

5. Depression —  I am the worst mother ever. I will never be able to take my children anywhere, ever. This sucks.

6. Acceptance —  Alright, fine. Just pick out a goddamn toy from the toy aisle. You win, I lose. There goes my fun money for the week, kid. Here, take it. Take your new toy. Better? Happy? Good. That’s one of us.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

7. Regret — I should never have done that — what on earth was I thinking? Lesson learned. Again. Target and children simply do not belong together. Never again. This time, I mean it.

Followed by: The Inevitable. Did I seriously forget the freaking toilet paper?

Related post: The Top 10 Things Moms Do At Target


The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. 1

    Erin says

    This must be because I only have a 2 year old… but Target is my refuge from Tearing the House Apart Hell. I sit around thinking of what I could possibly need at Target even though between my husband and I we’ve already been three times in any given week.

    Show Replies
    • 9

      fayfay says

      mine is an angel AFTER we go through a series of training. i always want to point out that money wont last, n she has to choose one toy only, no buts

      Show Replies
      • 12

        Angie says

        This is eerily accurate, and this is why I love this website. I keep telling my husband we are not the only people whose kids mutate into toy-obsessed hellions the minute the big red circle comes into view… ahh…acceptance.

        Show Replies
        • 13

          Evy says

          So true! One of my daughters first words was target! This is NOT a lie! She would see that red circle and transform! She is now 5, with a little brother to plot against me with. So the target experience can not be more accurate than scarymom put it! And of course I always forget to buy what I came there for!

          Show Replies
          • 15

            Mamma bear Alicia says

            True!!!! I am so happy to realize now that that will never change. When I tell my kids in the car before going into target “ok, we are only here for a couple of things mommy needs, no toys” and they say “ok mommy, no problem” I know they don’t mean it because the minute we pass the toy area they start giving me a whole argument of why they need certain toy, even though a toy similar to that one ended up in the trash… Is either they are really smart and know what they are doing or they just can’t resist temptation……?

            Show Replies
  2. 17

    Mary says

    I’m about to head out to Target with my 3 and 4 year olds right now. I think the final stage is exhaustion. Neither of my kids will ride in the effing cart and I spend the entire trip trying to shop with one eye while making sure they aren’t being snatched by child molesters or shattering wine bottles with the other. Dammit, I used to love Target.

    Show Replies
    • 20

      Melanie Gaytan says

      We have the kid leashes bought from Target. It doesn’t help a damn bit if I have my 3 & 4 year old alone unless I tie the leash to the cart and don’t mind chasing the cart all over the store or having kids dragging behind the cart

      Show Replies
      • 21

        Heather says

        I bought these fantastic things called Hold-On Handles. They have a huge carabiner clip that attaches to your cart, purse, or belt loop, and there is a handle at the other end that they can hold onto.

        Show Replies
        • 22

          Thomas says

          My wife bought one of these “dog” leashes for our oldest son. When she hooked Mark up in it I immediately took it off and cut it up with my pocket knife telling her my Son is NOT A DOG. We worked out a arrangement for her to shop or whatever when I was at home to babysit.

          Show Replies
          • 23

            Thomas says

            Sorry for the second reply, but when this occurred with the leash for children I was in the Army and my wife and I were stationed in West Berlin Germany. I work rotating shifts so therefore my wife was in stuck with the kids between eight to five so she could play cards with their friends, shop and do other things while I watched our boys.

            Show Replies
          • 24

            heatherlyday says

            when i need to go to the store, i can’t conveniently go at set times my husband is home (weird, but I actually LIKE going to the store with my husband). perhaps your wife is better organized (ha!), but i always remember what wasn’t on the list at 7 p.m. The ‘leash’ was a sanity saver when my very active boy who would NOT hold my hand decided to run off in the store. LIKE WITH A DOG, it does keep them from running off and getting into potentially dangerous situations in public, AND teaches them a sense of boundaries. and LIKE WITH A DOG, those little legs can move a hell of a lot faster than yours. Putting leashes on your two/three year old doesn’t mean they’re ‘a dog’ or a ‘submissive’, nor does it mean they’ll have any memory of you doing it. Btw, cutting it up with your knife was a bit extreme–you could have just asked her to take it back to the store.

            Show Replies
          • 25

            Thomas says

            Sorry about your experience, sounds like others. But I’ve never looked at my 3 year old running down the aisle and said to myself, he looks and acts like a dog so I’m going to get a leash for him and maybe a muzzle if he is a biter.

            Leashes may be for some but be ready for the dirty looks and comments from others.

            I’m outta heree…………….

            Show Replies
          • 26

            heatherlyday says

            dirty looks and comments are going to come whether you have your kid on a ‘leash’ or experiencing the stages listed in the blog above. Eh, whatevs. If I can get through the store without yelling at my kid, then it’s a good day. Fortunately, since he’s now eleven and no longer needs a leash, we have several good days a year. :-)

            Show Replies
          • 28

            Lorna says

            i bought a monkeybackpack leash for my 15 month old when we were taking her to Disney world for the first time. In my mind, I knew there would be haters but I also knew my daughter was coming home with me….and just because you have your kid on one of those doesn’t mean you have to pull them around by it! It just means you are attached to them! So to me some ignorant looks is just fine if that is what it takes to ensure i won’t lose my kid

            Show Replies
          • 29

            Danielle says

            If your son is actually YOUR son, you are not “babysitting” my friend, you are doing what some of us refer to as “PARENTING.” A babysitter is a person you pay money to watch your children so you and your wife can go out together. Babysitting implies that you are doing something special and out of the norm. Parents should share responsibilities so each can have some down time (this helps prevent animosity later) so I certainly hope you never tell your wife that you will babysit your son…

            Show Replies
          • 30

            Shawnda says

            The ones that look like leashes, yes.They do make ones that double as cute backpacks with a stuffed winnie the pooh, cars characters, teddys, monkeys whatever. Everyone used to compliment mine because they look so much like backpacks that no one even noticed the leashe from the front.

            Show Replies
          • 31

            halcyon says

            As someone who worked retail for several years I can say I am all for those baby leashes. They are so much safer than just letting your kid run around the store. We had crying kids come in our store all the time who had lost their parents. Kids can disappear in the blink of an eye and these leashes can prevent that. When I see a parent with their kid on a leash I don’t think they’re awful parents who see their kids as animals, I see parents who love their kids and care about their safety so much that they’re willing to get dirty looks from snobby parents to keep their kids safe.
            Plus they’re so much less annoying that those stupid squeaky shoes parents buy to keep track of their kids.
            So to parents who buy those cute backpack leashes for their kids I say good for you!

            Show Replies
    • 32

      Kim says

      OMG mine won’t sit in the cart either…and she promises she will on the way there. Then when she sees the cart she starts freaking out saying her legs hurt when she sits in the cart because she’s too big. Give me a freaken break she is 3 yrs old not 10. Then everyone stairs at me because I walk into target with a crying child and the trip didn’t even begin yet. Oh god isn’t she 18 yet???? Grrr.

      Show Replies
    • 33

      Sandy says

      Totally! Mine are the exact same! God forbid they actually sit in the cart. I’m lucky if I can successfully buy two or three items before I end up spending the next 20 minutes chasing them around the store. They’re not even greedy… they just want to run everywhere and touch everything!

      Show Replies
  3. 35

    Rita @ Healthy Mom, Sexy Wife says

    I’m lucky that my boys are still little – I just avoid the toy aisle. If my three year old asks for something I will say ok, ask daddy. By the way, my husband says he is a pain in the ass at the store. Wonder why?

    Show Replies
  4. 40

    Carrie says

    Bless the hearts of you women with well behaved kids. If I have my 2 year old with me at Target, it is at 8am when they open and she can scream and run free without anyone else around. She’s pretty much an angel at home but once we walk through those doors she wants everything she sees and lets the entire store know it.

    And I always forget whatever it is that I went for. Even if I did write it down.

    Show Replies

Load More Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>