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.

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.

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?


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  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.

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    • 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

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      • 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.

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        • 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!

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          • 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……?

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  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.

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    • 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

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      • 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.

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        • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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.

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          • 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…………….

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          • 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. :-)

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          • 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

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          • 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…

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    • 30

      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.

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    • 31

      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!

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  3. 33

    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?

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  4. 38

    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.

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  5. 41

    christina says

    I was a young mother, so whenever I went into Target, I always got “the stare.” I also have been cursed with a baby face so I look a lot younger than I am. I would go in there to get some time out of the house with my two kids, but all the stares would eventually lead to us leaving pretty early. I know I wasn’t the only teenage mother in that town, and I could have done without all the judgement. Other than that, the kids were well behaved while I shopped. All the bright, shiny things distracted them from tantrums.

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    • 42

      robbin says

      I was a young mom too….and still get asked if I’m 19 and I’m turning the big THREE OHHHH near the end of the year. We will be thankful when we are 50 and still look good :)

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          • 45

            Mamma bear Alicia says

            I Eco you Christina, I learned not to care for judgemental people, I am not like that so, I don’t appreciate when is done to me. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like done to you!…. Other than that, I am a hell of a good mommy, I trust my mommy instinct, so it doesn’t matter how young I am! I use to lie about my age just to get people’s approval, not anymore!! ;-)

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    • 46

      Betty says

      Christina, I know what it’s like to get those stares. I’m 32, but I haven’t aged since I was about 14. Up close I have the fine lines forming around the eyes that show my true age, but from more than a few feet away, I look like I’m ditching high school when I go to the store in the middle of the day! I go out of my way to make sure I look like I’m in my 30’s when I get dressed and in no way could be mistaken for a teenager, but it almost never helps. Don’t these people see my diamond engagement ring and wedding band – clearly the accessories of a grown woman – I always wonder. They just see my young looking face, toddler and baby bump, then assume I’m a second-time teen mother. Even if I was, why the dirty looks???

      My husband is 29 and smoked up until the time he found out I was pregnant two years ago. One time we went into the store and I pulled out cash to pay for his cigarettes, me being 30 and him 27, and the woman refused to sell them to us. She thought he was an older guy buying a teenager cigarettes and lectured him. I had to go to the car to get my ID and she was convinced it was somehow a fake, but since she had no choice since it was real, she had to sell them to us. We got evil looks from her as we left the store.

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  6. 47

    nicole says

    Why do I go through the same stages when taking my husband there? We went for a bathmat. He spent nearly $350 bucks on home decor. I still didn’t have a bathmat when we left.

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  7. 48

    Rebeccah says

    You forgot the reasoning stage where you ask them if they have ever left the house before. They answer to the affirmative. Then you ask them what you said last time this happened. They look remorseful, one probably pulls a tear or two. Then you ask them why we have to do this again and does it make them happy? No real answer, more remorse, tears. Then you ask them if they think you are happy? Tears, remorse, I love yous, we’ll do better next time etc.
    Click refresh screen. Go to Target. Same shit. Exactly the same shit.

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      • 50

        Mamma bear Alicia says

        Hahaha! Sorry!, that reminds me we use to laugh at my mom when she would get angry because she would get all worked up + she looked cute while angry, and we definitely knew she wasn’t serious at all!! Then she would scream “stop, stop” and we would laugh even harder.. Poor mommy!! I’ll always love you! Rip

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  8. 52

    Amanda says

    Dang, I feel so lucky. My 1 year old just hangs out in the cart and my 3 year old is ok with not always getting something. Usually a trip out is fun for all of us. We try to make it a game. I usually end up making a fool out of myself but of I have to hop down the aisle to avoid my son throwing a fit…. So be it.

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  9. 53

    Jennifer says

    I hate taking my kids to the store. They always want stuff, and it is so much easier to just get in. Saturday Bud wanted goldfish, fruit snacks, cocoa puffs, and something else. Of course all of it had to ride in the front with him. He looked like a hoarder.

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  10. 54

    jessica says

    I go through this any time I leave the house with my 8 year old son. Every time I tell him we are going to a store he starts asking for something. And every time I tell him no. 99% of the time at the store I tell him no. He starts with the crocodile tears and temper tantrum. Or thinking he can run the store like a mad man. So frustrating.

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  11. 55

    Jadzia@Toddlerisms says

    I actually used to hit Target at 9 o’clock at night. All to avoid having to take the kids there. It was a half-hour from our house too. And I would walk the aisles reeeeal slow.

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  12. 56

    Alexis says

    I’m just jealous that you actually HAVE a Target. There is no Target in Vermont. Seriously, the entire freekin state has NO Target. We’re stuck with Walmart. Yucky Walmart.

    My children like to punish me for taking them to Walmart by sucking on the grocery cart handle. I’m pretty sure that’s why they have that weird rash. It’s from Walmart. I keep telling them if they keep it up their hair will fall out too.

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    • 57

      monkeyincowtown says

      Ugh my children do that too! Why oh why do they insist on licking or sucking some part of the shopping cart? It totally creeps me out, so disgusting!!! Maybe I’ll use your line about their hair falling out next time I catch them ;)

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      • 58

        Kelly M says

        They have these really handy sani-wipes at the Wally world entrance…problem solved. Now if we could solve the leotard & tutu wearing men who frequent my store…

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        • 59

          Mamma bear Alicia says

          Ugh, I hate having to wipe the damn cart before entering the store, takes too long to wipe all the parts where my kid usually sucks on, and he gets all frustrated waiting for me to finish wiping!

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