Why I hate taking my toddler to the farmers market

Why I hate taking my toddler to the farmers market
I love farmers markets for so many reasons: Farmers tend to sell chemical-free produce. Local farmers mean less commuter pollution. Purchasing goods from local vendors keeps more dollars within the community. I’ve come to know the vendors, I shop outdoors, and I often attend their festivities and music. Plus the food just tastes so darn good!

Which is all the more ironic because I absolutely don’t like taking my toddler with me.

Of course we tried. For two years we tried. And here’s what’s been happening: we arrive, and everything my toddler wants to look at has nothing to do with the actual market. He wants to push the buttons on the parking meters. He runs to the barber shop to watch the spinning red, white and blue stripes. He would rather stand in front a store to look at the Chinese cats on their window display. What happened to encouraging my child to pick out fruits and vegetables, fresh from the stands?

Oh sure, sometimes we’ll convince him to shop with us. “Pick out any fruit or vegetable you want!” we tell him. So he picks up a broccoli. “Okay, great! Let’s make something out of this broccoli.” We’re pretty pleased with ourselves at this point. That is, until he wants to pick up another broccoli. And another. And another.  So I quickly redirect him to another vegetable. “Want to pick out an onion? Mama needs an onion.” We head towards the onions and find the crates too high for him to reach into. So much for that.

Sometimes we’ll have him choose a loaf of bread and hand it to the vendor. “Aww, he’s so cute!” they tell us. But little do they know that this cute guy will morph into a monster in ten seconds when he wants to eat this loaf of bread. Right now.

Okay, so shopping may be a bit difficult for a two-year-old, so we tried to simply enjoy a nice day out at the market. Except the streets are crowded, and instead of strolling casually like everyone else, my toddler has decided this is a great opportunity to:

  • zig zag through the crowd
  • ask to be carried the entire time
  • fiddle with a vendor’s pomegranates, forcing us to buy a bunch
  • point out the letters and numbers on the vendors’ signs while almost knocking them down
  • swing the “no dogs allowed” sign (One time he even drew a group of curious toddlers around him who wanted to see just how fun swinging a “no dogs allowed” sign could be.)

We’ve even tried what normally works with out toddler: eating. We either bring a snack or buy one from the market, find a shaded table and try to enjoy a nice day out. And so far it is, until my toddler finishes all his food and wants more. Apparently he thinks eating at the market is an all-day activity and will let the world know about his displeasure at having to leave.

It’s funny that it’s even me that’s complaining about this, because when we go on our weekly trips, I usually handle all the buying while my husband handles all of our toddler. No wonder that by the end of the morning, my husband’s face has a huge frown on from keeping up with our toddler’s antics. That’s why, for the past month, we’ve tried a new tactic where I go to the market by myself while my husband takes LO to an outing, like a museum or the park. And so far this has worked wonderfully.

Until my toddler started asking about the cats. And how he wants to buy strawberries, sweet potatoes and oranges at the farmers market. “Okay, maybe this is a sign that he can now handle the market,” my husband and I hope. We even discussed how keeping him from the market may not be a good thing; after all, we want him to be involved in the buying process of our food and love the farmers market and all its benefits too. So we gave it one more shot: this past Sunday, we took him to the market.

And as usual, he wanted to be carried. He couldn’t reach the vegetables. And he changed his mind about buying strawberries and oranges (although at least he did help pick out the sweet potatoes). To make matters worse, his beloved cats weren’t by the window—the store had taken them down. And just to add more cruelty to our already-exasperated selves, we see kids—from babies in carriers to toddlers his age—all having a grand time, not swinging the “no dogs allowed” sign. How do they do it?!

On that outing, I was reassured that we’re not the only ones with a toddler struggling to find something fun in our beloved farmers market—the other week, we saw a dad carrying a little boy so he could press the parking meter buttons too. Either way, we plan to limit his farmers market outings to maybe once a month. Hopefully as he gets older and can really help shop, we’ll have an easier time and be able to go as a family again.

“Where’s the cats?” he kept asking. Clearly he saw no point in going to the market anymore, either.

Anyone actually have an easy time taking kids to the farmers market (go ahead and gloat; I won’t mind)?

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8 thoughts on “Why I hate taking my toddler to the farmers market

  1. I love your honesty! I can definitely sympathize. Luckily, Baby Luke is still young enough that he doesn’t move from his stroller but I’m not looking forward to when he would prefer to walk, or more likely, run around like a wild man. I will say that I prefer the Farmer’s Markets that are more spread out vs. tightly packed in where I’m continually apologizing for running over people’s feet with the stroller!

  2. Boy, do I know what you mean. I’ve tried to take my son to the farmers markets in Texas, and he’s usually more interested in the potted plants, and it’s not easy to shop when you have a one-year-old trying to tip over plants and shove fistfuls of dirt in his mouth. Like you said, hopefully it’s a stage they’ll outgrow, so we can enjoy the farmers market again. 🙂

  3. Yeah, any kind of shopping with my daughter these days is a recipe for stress. Lately I’ve been going by myself when my husband is home. It’s kind of pathetic when a trip by myself to the grocery store feels like a mini-vacation. 🙂

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love the name of yours! I am past the toddler stages, but I can remember the days clearly! Shopping and errands in general get easier:)

    I’m enjoying reading your posts when I get a few minutes to be on the computer – have a great weeken d!

  5. I have 3 children, ranging in age from 2-5 yrs old. Yes, taking them shopping is difficult and always has been, but I find around 2 yrs old to be the most difficult age for taking children shopping. I think your idea of taking him once a month is a good one. It is less stress for you guys, but he still gets exposure to it, and there will be an age where he starts behaving well enough to take him weekly without it being a stressful experience.

  6. This post made me laugh, nodding my head in agreement. I LOVE our local farmers markets and when the monster was smaller I often took him in the sling and would get maybe an hour of shopping in with a bit of food bribery! But now, he won’t have a bar of the sling and while he might walk and hold my hand for a little bit it doesn’t last long until he is sprinting away, laughing hysterically. Or wanting to be held.

    We don’t go every weekend but when we do I just resign myself to the fact I might not get to buy much and we just enjoy some breakfast and music.

  7. I still drag (I mean take!) my toddler to these markets and the weather if finally cooling down a bit (here in Australia). I try to distract her with the animals and music while Daddy picks the vegetables and then we switch.

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