Happy Valentine's Day!
Today I am going to talk about my major shopping days.
The first week after Ram was installed he had people to visit in towns 4 hours, 3 hours, and 2 hours away. We didn't have any children yet so I went along while he visited all those people. Thankfully that is the most traveling he did all in one week. I quickly learned that if I was going to go shopping while he visited people, I would need to be organized.
It took me a long time (several trips to the same town) to learn which stores were in which town. One town 3 hours away has a nice scrapbook store. A different town 3 hours away has a nice Once Upon a Child. The city 4 hours away has Costco. Almost all the bigger towns have Walmart, but not all have Target or a store like Office Depot. Some (but not all) towns have a SuperWalmart or SuperTarget. The town 1 1/2 hours away has a Goodwill across the street from Target so you know where all the scratched/dented/overstocked things from Target go. I have bought brand new Target baby clothes with the label on them that were just one piece of a two piece set or were a little dirty, washed them and you would never know they weren't bought new. We have also found nice used (Lutheran) books at that Goodwill. Some of the towns have Sears with a clothing department, others just sell appliances. I can also return Land's End merchandise bought online at Sears if they have a clothing department. I try to buy most of the Lambs pants at Sears because they can be returned if they get holes in them.
In the back of my mind (if not written down on the shopping list) I always am thinking, the next time we get to that town with Once Upon a Child, the Lambs need ____ and ____ so I'm going to look for that. When Ram tells me he has to go to a certain town to visit someone in the hospital I immediately think of what our favorite stores in that town are. We go to those stores first and if we run out of time to go to all the stores we would like to shop at, we at least got to the specific to that town stores. I know when he usually has pastor's conference and we will be going to along with Ram to that.
We used to regularly get the Sunday newspaper mainly to use the coupons. We stopped doing this because so many of the coupons didn't apply to us. We started to buy less processed food. Many of the "new" items weren't on sale at our grocery stores out here yet. I never knew if we would get to a store to do major grocery shopping before the coupons expired.
What I did begin doing is looking online at the stores we will go to for their weekly ad the day before we do major shopping. If the towns we are going to have Target, Menards, Cashwise (grocery store), etc., I look at their ads. I write on my list what is on sale that we use. Sometimes it is a list of look at ____ and I decide at the store if we need it or want it.
These shopping days become long days. Once my parents were visiting and they did the whole major shopping day with the Lambs and me without Ram. They were exhausted by evening and we even skipped a few stores that day because I didn't need anything from there! Some days we don't get home until close to midnight. Everyone in our family is now used to these days now.
For the Lambs, we try to do at least one fun thing on these days. If it is nice weather we take them to a park for a little while. Sometimes we let them play at the play place at the mall. Some Menards have a play place in the summer. Some Barnes and Nobles have trains to play with. Sometimes the coffee shop has a little play area. This is a treat for good behavior for the other stores.
We usually let the Lambs pick the order that we go to stores. They know that the grocery is always the very last place we go so that we can get cold stuff home. But other than that I give them a list of the stores we want to go to and they each take turns picking the order we go to stores. Often Ram will take them to look (not buy!) at the toy section at Walmart and Target while I try to finish shopping before they are tired of looking at the toys. Often Ram will watch them play with the toys for sale at Goodwill while I quickly look if there is anything we want to buy. So usually Walmart and Target and Goodwill are high on the list for the Lambs when they get to choose.
Our major shopping days sometimes are at the end of our vacation or on the way home from a conference or meeting that Ram went to. At those times I have to be super organized and really make a priority list of stores/items to buy because every one will be tired. I have to take my list and coupons with me. But sometimes this works in our favor-on the way home from Mayo after Ram's surgery I stopped at Costco with the Lambs. They ate so many samples that they didn't need supper!
Do you have any other tips for major shopping days?
Come back tomorrow for more practical tips about being a rural pastor's wife.