Simple Tips for Bringing the Circus to Target

Maybe you’ve been stuck inside for a few days and need a change of scenery. Maybe you’re out of an essential household item: toilet paper, coffee, Lindt truffles and aren’t thinking straight as a result. Or maybe you have older children that can actually verbalize their needs (“Mom, can I please get new pants. My friends think I’ve started wearing lady’s capris.”) and today is the only day free to buy them what they need.

Whatever the reason, you’re facing the possibility of loading up the van with a gaggle of children, at least one bag of supplies (diapers, wipes, sippy cups, hip flask, etc.) and you’re still in yesterday’s clothes…or is it the outfit from two days ago?…. never mind… You can do this!

taget aisle
It’s like the Magic Kingdom for poor moms.

Five tips to surviving Target with a barrel of monkeys.

1. Leave right after everyone has eaten something. I don’t care what it is, so long as there is food in their stomachs. Then announce you’re not buying any. food. at the cafe or to snack on, unless that’s your favorite brand of hell. Maybe it’s Lent and you’re feeling in need of a good mortification, then fine, otherwise the more gorged the better.

taget cart
Oh man, I can hardly wait to run off, get lost in women’s intimates and make mom cry….again.

2. Maybe you’re out of food at home and that’s why you’re heading to Target. Okay then. Maybe you need that cafe visit carrot to dangle in front of your kids, lest they never leave the Lego aisle. Fine. Just be sure to loudly announce your intentions as you walk through the store so everyone else will know to clear out for the crazy lady from the day care and you’ll have no trouble snagging a table or seven for your well-rounded meal of popcorn, pretzels, slushies and a bag of apple slices someone will promptly dump on the floor.

3. If your older children want to bring money to buy themselves something, just accept that it’s going to suck and be a total waste of their money. Take a deep breath and just smile when they take the only $3 they have and blow it on plastic junk from the dollar bins because “I have to buy something! Yes! I REALLY want this!!!”

target lego aisle
Let’s be sure to stock up on more barbed wire for your floor while we’re here.

4. If you’re not going to buy their good behavior with a toy, pretend like, you’ll totally remember to get them this exact Barbie dress / action figure with oversized hands for their birthday…in eight months. Take a picture to act like you share a special bond with said child over this hideous piece of imported garbage. “Oh no, I wouldn’t want to forget this for the world!!”

5. You’re not going to enjoy yourself. Even if you pick up a Rubbermaid trashcan, drag it to the Starbucks counter and order the barista, with just a hint of madness in your voice, to “Fill it to the top with (your favorite calorie boost) and damn right I want whipped cream.” I mean, I do that anyway because then I’m numb to the cashiers chatter about saving 5% and whatever she mentioned about Teddy driving out the door into the parking lot. Know that when you get home, the rest of your day is shot so be sure to pick up some frozen pizzas. But, rest assured, this trip to Target will remain in the children’s memory much longer than any other special day trip you may plan for them (zoo, historic reenactment homestead, family reunion).

Grandparent or adult who cares: “Hey kids, what did you do last week?”

ANY child of mine: “Oh, uh, nothing…I guess.”

Me: “Wait, don’t you remember we went to the Wetlands Nature Center? And learned about ecosystems? Remember how fun and education it was????”

Same favorite child: “Oh yeah. But OH! We also went to Target and I bought a new Lego minifigure with the last of my money and even though I already had it, it’s cool. Plus Mama bought us all juice boxes. We were also going to have apple slices, but Teddy dumped them on the floor so we ate cookies instead!”

I’m currently in the midst of a Target hangover. The regret, the sickness, feeling guilt about all the over-indulgence. Ugh. So much better when I indulge in Target alone. No one to rub in the fact that I agreed to spend way too much money on a pair of pajamas with Minions on them.

So anyway, don’t forget these tips next time you need to shop and remember this old saying, “Beer before liquor, never be sicker. Liquor before Target and everyone has a good time.” #bullseye


  1. Oh that crap in the Target dollar bins. . . . I’m trying to teach my kids that they can earn money and then they’ll have money to spend, and it all gets spent on that crap. They spend half an hour picking some dumb thing out, then I spend hours trying to fix it when it falls apart the next dayand the day after that and the day after that . . . and then consoling them after it falls apart or I furtively throw it away.

  2. My favorite, the descending order of the Target vacation:

    1- at Target alone (obviously a delux vacay)
    2 – at Target with a sleeping newborn
    3 – at Target with a sleeping newborn and a nonverbal toddler
    4 – at Target with multiple feral children (which is no longer a vacation, but at least you’re still at Target)

    You were still at Target, my friend. You were still at Target.

  3. Kelly, you crack me up. And let me just say, I take from this that your children are not acquainted with Pokemon cards. Be glad. We have to visit not one, but TWO Pokemon displays each time we hit Target, and my kids are especially prone to dropping all their allowance on these little worthless pieces of cardstock.

  4. I can’t ever leave that place without over-spending. At least my Target has the huge carts that I can strap all of my little ones into.

  5. My only issue with #1 is that if I feed them all before we leave, they will take turns having to go poop, the potty trips will be staggered throughout the entire shopping trip, and they’ll only realize they have to go poop when we get to the opposite end of the store. Sigh. At least our Target has a family restroom.

  6. You forgot get yourself one of those big ass carts and strap everyone in as tight as possible no matter what age. If # of children exceeds 3, put weakest one/ones in cart and pile things on top so they can’t escape. Then attempt make it through store using only 20 point turns.

  7. Thought that was your van I saw flying out of the parking lot just as I pulled in. I wanted to yell, “Howdy neighbor. I’m back in town!”, but you wouldn’t have heard me over the screech of your tires. ????

    PS- I’m all for those kiddie harnesses. Used one quite successfully with Granddaughter #1 in the UK without one strange look from anyone. And if anyone HAD looked at me wrong, they’d have wished they hadn’t.

    1. PPS–I have NO idea how three question marks took the place of one exclamation point in my lat comment.

  8. I have actually left my children in the toy section at Target while I go away for an hour and get all my shopping done. It’s like a free daycare. Then I ban them from spending any money on the stuff they have been drooling over for the past hour and generally break all the nice mum rules about looking interested in plastic crap. You are way nicer than me to your kids.

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