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.

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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.

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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

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)

From Around the Web


Rachelle Hamilton 5 months ago

#6……ALWAYS #6!!!!

Rachelle Hamilton 5 months ago

I’m ALWAYS #6!!!!

Mamaof3 9 months ago

My husband is generally the push over parent. I DREAD going to the store with the kids IF my husband is going too because our almost 3 year old whines and cries basically the whole time. First he wants in the cart, but mommy isn’t allowed to push, daddy has to. Then he wants daddy to carry him. Then he wants to look at everything (but look, I mean touch and play with). Then he wants to get something and will have a full on melt down for whatever he wants.

Now when it’s JUST me and the kids in the store, my son behaves well. I give him the option to walk or ride, he never whines for anything and is generally a delight. His “reward” for being good in the store is getting to help me put the purchases on the counter at check out… works like a charm. If only I could ban my husband from shopping with us. The clerks have even commented on how well behaved he is with me, then they give me the “what happened” look when my husband is with us.

Rebeca Rojo 9 months ago

This was me yesterday….and today lol. i’m always forgetting something haha

Lindsay Aurelio 9 months ago

I’m doing it today too!!! God speed.

Laura Lou Chambers 9 months ago

So funny! I wish we had a target in Nottingham!

Beth Stevens 9 months ago

hilariously true!

Nancy Boley O’Leary 9 months ago

My kids never threw a tantrum HOWEVER if I could find a way to get them to stop touching stuff. EVERY. SINGLE. THING.

Heather Michele 9 months ago

Ummm no

Tabria Thomson 9 months ago

I hate taking my 3 year old shopping with me. He always says I want I need and I have to have it! Ugh what did I do wrong? I just don’t understand why he does that. my 2 year old don’t do it. I love taking him to Target :)

Steph Macias 9 months ago

Lol!! Jill

Valerie M Cody 9 months ago

Not like we are calling them brats assholes etc to their faces

Valerie M Cody 9 months ago

I just wait til my bf gets home to go to the store. Or I find someone to watch them. I can’t deal with that shit and it spares the kids me yelling at them too. Win!!

Kieshia Colburn 9 months ago

Ugh it’s one of my most dreaded trips with my 2 boys lol

Crystal Schneider 9 months ago

Sometimes reading these scary mommy articles let’s me know just how well behaved my child actually is, this stuff just doesn’t happen with us. I guess the sassiness and constant outright refusal are my penance. The Lil turd. 😉

Brooke-melinda Parker 9 months ago

I’m very very ghetto I won’t spank in the store because people to quick dcs so I will tell my two oldest look you scream shout yell your gonna get every person who looks told off idc were we are. If I’m trying people should mind their business. I work at Walmart I put up with others kids so other can put up with mine

Christina Williams 9 months ago

Alicia, it’s #4 for me, all the way.

Sanford Shapiro 9 months ago

Maybe there should be a support group for it…:)

Jessica Ingram 9 months ago

Why Target put the Dollar Spot by the front door! Woot! Yay Target!

Dana Brisendine Noon 9 months ago

I love target with my kids! Walmart…loathe. Target…wahoo!

mama j 9 months ago

What is it about parents on here that don’t know how to control their kids or let them know ahead of time hpw to act in a store. I remember being a kid and my parents having all 3 of us in the car before entering anywhere and letting us know ahead of time if we acted like human beings we would get treated as such. Plus my dad would give us “the eye” ic we tried anything stupid.
My baby girl is only 1 and never acts up or does any of the things in OP.

Tammy Harbord 9 months ago

lordy.. I have 3 boys 3 and under… The looks I get sometimes when my kids are acting up .. I get so frustrated.. I repeat my self constantly.. I have tried everything you can think of…. my kids are a handful.. I get it! I’m the one that deals with it… If you don’t like it.. then too bad.. Some times are better then others… Some days we have a great trip everyone is happy and cooperative.. others days it’s a total complete nightmare and I just need to get shit done and there is no other way around it and I don’t know how many times I have got back to my car got everyone and everything loaded.. belted out loud and clear about how I feel for thier horrible and embarrassing behaviors and cried on the drive home…. so before all you prissy little “perfect” moms open you mouths with somthing to say.. I suggest you put a filter between your thoughts and your mouths.. just because you think you”taught” your kids how to behave doesn’t mean that you didn’t just luck out and have kids that are of that nature… I have good kids… but it is not always easy and my kids are a handful and HATE shopping sometimes! that’s just how it is..

jade 9 months ago

Ummmmm…I guess this is for parents that don’t really know how to control their kids or something. ..cuz I have a 1yr old and she loveesssss going out to stores and being out and about. The only time she gives me a little trouble is if I happen to be in the stores around nap time because then she’s restless. And even still she’s smiling and waving at people. I guess I’m just one of the lucky ones.

Colleen 9 months ago

Maybe I am strange (ok, I know I am), but Target is mom’s store. We hit the toy isle often, but purchases aren’t allowed. My son ‘window shops’, and leaves empty handed…98% of the time. If he does leave with something, he is on cloud 9 for days. Now, if we go to the grocery store and he doesn’t get blueberries, that is when the silent treatment starts (thank goodness).

Jean Hecker 9 months ago

I DO NOT miss those days

jen 9 months ago

THESE comments have me cracking the fuck up!! Im glad im not the only one with a kid who wont sit in the fucking cart!!!

jen 9 months ago


Amy Jo 9 months ago

I love shopping by myself as much as the next mom but my hubby works crazy hours so unless I want to hit up a friend to watch my kids they go everywhere I do. I typically enjoy it, they know when I say no I mean no and they know how to behave in a store because I expect them to behave everywhere we go including family and friend homes. If you raise your children to respect you and behave going out in public is not that big of a deal. The only time I hate taking my kids places is in bad/cold weather.

Cassandra Kulik 9 months ago

This is awesome…totally nailed it!!!!

Rachel Taylor Mohat 9 months ago

It’s like you know me lol

Cathy Nutt 9 months ago

100 %accurate!


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