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Emily-Jane Clark Headshot

Why You Should Never Go to Waitrose When You Have Babies

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After almost three years of very little sleep I have gone beyond tired.

In fact, some days I don't even feel sleepy any more.

So I think I am ok.

"I feel fine," I smile to myself sipping on my super strong coffee. "Today I am going to Get Stuff Done."

And it is on these days I decide to leave the house.

Big mistake.

It is one thing looking after children while severely sleep-deprived in the safety of your own home. Where they can't run away or walk into the road. Where there is Cbeebies and I don't have to communicate with anyone over the age of two.

But when I go outside. Where there are grown ups. And conversations. And unexpected items in the bagging area messing with my mind. It is only then I realise that actually, I may be a little tired after all...

Like the day I attempted to leave the house and buy toilet roll like a normal person.

The first error I made was not to write a shopping list.

I only need four things. What kind of idiot needs a list for four things?

This was clearly the coffee talking. The post-caffeine high in all its cocky glory, tricking me into thinking I was capable of great feats...like buying loo roll.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk. Toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, nappies and milk.

So, we were off. Popping to the shop. Without a list. Because I am not tired.

Well when I say 'popping.' It was more like this...

Enter shop. Immediately forget why I have gone into the shop.

Pick up the thing I think I need from the shop (usually hair conditioner or butter).

Have a debate with the toddler about why she can't have a bottle of ketchup.

Let the toddler have the ketchup in the vague hope it is one of the things I need.

Get to self-check out (to avoid having to talk to an actual person).

Scan shopping.

Re-scan all the items my bagging area was not expecting.

The baby starts crying.

Drop the entire contents of my wallet on the floor while trying to give the baby biscuits.

Attempt to retrieve my bank card, money and driving licence from the toddler.

Try to pay for shopping with Boots Advantage Card.

Pay for shopping.

Walk away from the shop.

Suddenly remember all the things I needed from the shop - none of which are in my shopping bag.

I realise that I am the idiot who needs a list for four bloody things! When did I become this person?

Try not to cry.

Get angry at the shop. It is definitely the shop's fault. I never forget stuff when I go to Waitrose. Maybe I should go to Waitrose (start to walk towards Waitrose).

'NO. We are on a budget', I tell myself. 'I have already wasted money on stuff I do not need. I will have to go to Aldi' (start to walk towards Aldi).

By this point I am starting to think that I may be a little tired after all.

Perhaps I could pop into Waitrose for my free coffee, restore my energy levels then go back to Aldi for my shopping (walk back towards Waitrose).

But inevitably, as I drink my delicious FREE coffee I convince myself that Waitrose is not actually all that dearer than Aldi. Especially, if you stick to the Essential range. And I only need FOUR things. Four things will not break the budget.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk. Toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, nappies and milk.

So I just need to get the shopping, get out and get home.

Except it is never that easy...

"I WANT A CARROT," yells the toddler.

"If you really want a carrot I will cook you one when I get home," I tell her putting the carrot back.

"I WANT THIS CARROT," she shouts (six times) and picks up a carrot.

I put the carrot back.

I could sense the good people of Waitrose looking at me.

What kind of mother doesn't let her child have a carrot? She gave her three biscuits in the cafe.

"Ok you can have the carrot," I sigh, feeling the exhaustion trying my patience. "We can have carrots for dinner, how about that?"

"I don't want carrots for dinner. I don't like carrots."

She screams. Loudly.

I try to stay calm. I know she is only two (and quite understandably) sick of the supermarket. But I am exhausted, I want to go home and this is so annoying.

SOD CARROTS AND EVERYTHING THEY STAND FOR. I HATE BLOODY CARROTS. CRUNCHY LITTLE DICKHEADS.

Of course, I shouted this all internally, which is nowhere near as satisfying.

I count to ten and address the toddler through gritted teeth.

"If you want the carrot darling, you can have the carrot. If you don't want the carrot, then put it back!"

She picks up another carrot and throws it on the floor.

I now feel on the verge of a breakdown. "Do you want a stupid carrot or not?"

"Carrots aren't stupid," she cries. Now I feel bad. I am a horrible carrot-dissing mother.

I almost give up. Leave the shop and go home. But I have come this far. If I quit now this trip will all have been for nothing.

The toddler has stopped crying and is now eating a raw carrot. I pretend not to notice.

By now I am actually, very, very tired indeed.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk.
Am I saying this out loud? I hope not. Not in Waitrose.

Toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and milk.

We finally leave Waitrose with toilet roll, nappies, dishwasher tablets and...DAMN IT. A half eaten carrot, Essential olives, Essential pâté (I had no idea olives and pâté were essential - thank god I came in) but no bloody milk!

IT took me all day and the entire weekly budget but I (almost) did it. I got my shopping. Plus extras. Essential extras.

The thing about sleep-deprivation is that it makes everything so much harder. A shopping trip, a doctor's appointment or going to the park, all become Major Operations. You struggle to get your head around simple decisions and feel totally overwhelmed if you try to do too many things in one day.

Therefore, I have realised that after a particularly bad night it is best all round if I just stay at home. And rather than beat myself up about all the things I should be Getting Done - try to cherish the time alone with my daughters while they are still young enough to enjoy hanging out with mummy.

So take it from someone who has learnt the hard way. If you have barely had any sleep, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE (unless there is a fire or you have run out of biscuits).

For more tales of sleep-deprived parenting feel free to visit www.stolensleep.com or follow me at Facebook