I have a confession to make.
I hate shopping. In fact, I’ll quite happily scrub four poop-encrusted toilets, scour the burnt egg off the saucepans sitting on my counter top AND scoop out cold baked beans from my sink – with bare hands – rather than go out to do the dreaded food shop.
Why do I hate food shopping so much?
Well, as a home-schooling Mum I rarely get the luxury of going out like a Step-ford Wife, dolled up with my favourite make up, hair professionally blow-dried and wearing my perfectly-ironed 50s vintage dress and stilettos.
Instead, I am lucky to have showered and successfully retrieve my hair brush from under a child’s bed, that has goodness-knows-what buried in the bristles. I will have pulled on my comfy jeans that probably should have gone through the wash the last two times I wore them and stuck on the longest top I own to cover my lumps and bumps.
Shopping is not glamorous. Hollywood lies, I tell you.
The closest movie I can relate it to is The Grinch when the “Whos” from “Whoville” are enjoying Christmas celebrations and the Grinch – who hates Christmas – declares “Oh the noise! The noise!” With three kids and a shopping cart to contend with, corners that have GLASS BOTTLES on a stand (Stupidly dangerous design if you ask me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to use my super-mum reflexes to save a bottle from certain death as a child flings their arm in the direction of the stand) it is absolute chaos. CHAOS I tell you!
That’s not even mentioning the lightning speed at which little hands throw items in the shopping cart, so I’m walking like a haggard octopus, keeping the kids attached to me like some weird creature, moving my arms in hundreds of directions while walking forwards and my mouth barking instructions for the kids to follow ignore.
Then there’s the slope outside the store. The sidewalk that stretches along the car park, that is, and you are expected to somehow push a very full shopping cart in a straight line on a slope. A SLOPE I tell you!!! This pulls all the muscles in my back even more than doing 20 minutes of the rowing machine at the gym.
I could go on forever.
Usually I go to the closest shop to me. This is because 1) I hate driving and 2) I hate new places. However, I had to drive the kids to science club this morning and it’s across town.
My action-plan was to drop the older kids to science club and take Nicholas to the main store by my house before picking them back up again. Sadly, that super plan went out the window when the hall was double booked so Science club was only going to be for an hour and I wouldn’t have enough time to get back across town.
First off, I decided to pull into a new Aldi in Swindon. Turns out, it was so new it hadn’t actually opened yet. I sheepishly smiled at some builders who looked at me bewildered and I creeped (do cars creep?) out of the rocky car park and followed the traffic round the corner.
That is when I saw Lidl. My saving grace! My promised land! Ok, won’t go that far, but that is how I ended up shopping at Lidl.
I suffer with anxiety, my readers know this by now. And here’s the thing, Lidl is new to me. I’ve only been a few times and each time it was for two or three items. I’ve never attempted to do a weekly shop there.
And what I learnt, was there are RULES. Unspoken RULES that leave us Aspergers lot totally baffled because I need to be TOLD these things. And when I don’t understand a social situation or how I’m supposed to act I get….wait for it….super anxious.
Like, in my head I imagine myself throwing everything from my trolley onto the floor and doing the River-dance while screaming at the top of my lungs.
Obviously, I suppress this urge because I know that is not socially acceptable. But then all the stress and confusion builds up to the point I end up in total panic mode.
So, to save you the same fate as me. I’m going to share with you some rules I have learnt while shopping at Lidl. Maybe you suffer with anxiety too? Maybe you’re confused by the social expectations of shopping in this store?
Or maybe you just want to laugh at the fact I actually have to write these “common sense” rules down? Read on…
Let’s get started:
- You need a pound for the Shopping Cart. When you shop at Waitrose or Asda, you don’t need a pound for a shopping cart. Therefore, I’ve never got a pound on me. Thankfully, my son had his pocket money on him so he offered to use his pound!
- You need to pay for your bags or bring your own. One day, I’ll post a photo of the cupboard under my sink and show you my mountain of shopping bags. I have a terrible memory when it comes to bringing my own shopping bags, so I always end up buying more. However, something I haven’t worked out yet is this; is it ok to take Asda bags into a Lidl store? Or will security frogmarch me off the premises and ban me for treason? I feel like I need to have the correct store name on my bags. Yes, I know this is a problem. But I can’t be the only weirdo who feels disloyal otherwise!
- Don’t stop and block the people behind you. Walk slow and keep moving. People really hated it when I stopped to decide between two products. It was like you had to pretend you’re on a electronic belt and had to keep the traffic flowing. Otherwise people try to overtake you and then it’s all awkward because as they try to pass you’re ready to move off and there are people walking towards you too and then blahhhhh panic attack!
- There are no customer toilets. I get anxious about toilets. The accessibility of toilets, where they are and how long I have to wait before I can go in another one. This obsession started when I developed IBS and would get unwanted “attacks” while out and about. Then It was even worse when I was heavily pregnant with my third son and felt like a watermelon was pressing on my bladder all day long. Now, it’s a full-blown paranoia. So, just a heads up. There are no customer toilets!
- The random bargain stuff is in the middle of the shop. Much like Aldi, there are two aisles of home-wear, garden stuff and miscellaneous goodies to be found. I once got a steam mop for £30 in this aisle. It’s pretty cool! But people are rather possessive when it comes to their space. There also seems to be a one-way system but I couldn’t quite figure that one out.
- Til number 2 is opening, please unload your shopping. If you hear something like this, Do NOT make a be-line for the til that’s about to open. Especially if there’s a huge line of people at another til. Oh my word you get glares. And no, I didn’t do this. Someone else did. Us British people really love queues and we are very passionate about who should be next in line. So be courteous and let people go before you.
- Supermarket Sweep Anyone? Do you remember the old UK TV game show where contestants were given 2 mins to run around a supermarket and grab as many items on a shopping list as possible? Well, unloading and packing your shopping is just like that. The cashier will give you a brief “Hi” before zooming your products through the scanner faster than the yellow angry bird and you end up with a pile of goods spilling everywhere for you to put in the trolley. Don’t try to pack them into bags yet!! Throw them in the trolley (that sits backwards at an angle along the side of the checkout by the way!) pay for your shopping and then go to the long surface by the windows. This is where you sort your shopping and pack your bags, allowing people behind you to pay for their shopping. I learned that there is a time limit here too. Spend too much time and you just have to keep moving towards the exit so the people behind you can use the space to pack their bags.
- And breathe! There are so many things I’ve most likely missed. But by the time I got back to the car, I was brain-fried and close to tears!
You save a lot on your shopping, my weekly shop was just £56! (It’s usually over £100!) but the stress of the shopping experience made me wish I was rolling in money and went to Waitrose for my free cuppa. (You get a newspaper and hot drink free when you shop at Waitrose!)
So there’s the unspoken rules I learnt today. Have I missed any? Anyone have any tips for me? Pop in the comments below!