Back To School And The Joy Of Shopping Alone

It’s back to school time for my four kids. I did a happy dance on the first day of kindergarten for my triplets.  The joy, the freedom, the peace between my two ears – there are no words to describe this glorious feeling.

My haphazard, scattered, hit-and-miss, summer blogging schedule has officially come to an end.  With four kids at school all excuses for not writing are finished, kaput, dead, no more, and will not be tolerated in this neck of the woods!!!!



“Summer blogging, had me a blast,

Summer blogging, didn’t happen so fast

Four kids home – one crazy me,

Fun and games – all there could be.

Summer days have drifted away,

So back to those blog writing nights.

(Uh Well-a, well-a, well-a, uh!)……


The one thing I learned this summer is that 10-weeks of summer holidays, plus four young kids, sun, pools, camps, parties, vacations, games, and zoo trips results in one frazzled, crazy Mom.

It’s going to take a little time to get back to the real world.  On the second day of school, my alarm clock failed to go off.  Thankfully my little early bird woke me up at 7 am before we really had to shift into third gear to get our school show on the road.

Four kids washed, dressed, fed and watered, lunches made, back-packs filled, car-loaded, kids transported and deposited outside the school door, all happened in a 30-minute flurry of activity.  I was so pleased with myself once I got home to savor the peace of my quiet home.  I daydreamed as I filled the kettle, then turned around to see Luke Skywalker, light saber in hand, staring at me from the counter top.  I had forgotten to pack one lunch box.

Never Forget Luke Skywalker

So off I set again for school, where I chatted with the assistant principal.  I asked her how my grandmother managed to get 13 children ready for school, or wherever it was they had to go each day.  The key, she reminded me, is that my granny never had three children all at once.  The older kids always took care of the younger ones.  I felt a little better then, accepting I am not a complete failure altogether.

I consoled myself with a trip to the supermarket.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, but after enduring 10-weeks of grocery shopping with four kids in tow, I savored every moment.  When I pulled my cart into the check-out line, I was astonished at how empty it looked without those extra boxes of unwanted, sugary, breakfast cereals, no contraband hot wheels cars or Lego figurines, and no unnecessary cookies or juice boxes.

Each time we took a trip to the store this summer, I said a little prayer before I unleashed the hounds.


“Please God, help them be good this time.”


But God’s idea of good for a child in a grocery store, seems to be a little different to mine.

Try as I might to be that calm, shopping-list toting, ever-so-organized mother of four perfectly behaved, cart-escorting children, I never succeeded.  Before we wound our way through two aisles, the boys were inevitably running at break-neck speed, crashing into architecturally beautiful, but precariously balanced displays, or scaring little old ladies to death with their pleading entreaties for the best thing ever since sliced bread.  Before long I transformed into the order-issuing, barking mother I tried so hard not to be.

And so, now that my four kiddos are at school, and I am afforded the incredible pleasure of shopping ALONE, I won’t mind it one little bit if I am mowed down by a toddler begging his mother for one more box of cookies.  I’ll smile and say to myself:


“Those were the days!”



Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom



  1. I remember those days well! I was so excited to see the summer break come and even more excited to see school start back! We’ll be seeing our oldest granddaughter off to her first day of first grade this year, as she will be getting a brand new baby brother the day before!

    • Jan – What exciting times for your family. I am so happy to hear the news of your new baby grandson. Your little granddaughter is so lucky to have you close by, so that you can be part of her first day back to school, especially when so much is happening in her little world. The one thing I find difficult about living in America, is not having that wonderful family support on my doorstep. You are truly blessed.

  2. Delightfully written Mairead! I hear myself in every word. Only another 2 weeks for me!

    • Martine – I hope you enjoy the last two weeks of summer fun with your kids at home, but then may you savour the sweet sounds of silence as you work without interruption. Have a wonderful weekend.


  3. Hi Mairead, Our first two were just heading into first and second grade opening up tons of time for my wife to return to school. The plans were set enrollments were made and the plan to become a nurse practitioner had my wife more excited than ever. Did I ever tell you we have three children? That August we found out that #3 was coming. She was very happy after she cried for a week, attended school through the entire pregnancy with all the other daily tasks to perform. But with all things, I don’t know what we would have done without our Grace,

    • Brian – Your wife is an amazing woman – pregnancy, school and two kids in 1st and 2nd grade is no mean feat. Looking back, even though it was hard at the time, I am sure she wouldn’t change a thing. So happy you were blessed with your Grace. Have a lovely weekend.

      • The only amazing part is she stuck with me, I would say all you mothers, caregivers, deserve a hearty pat on the back, and know your care shines through your children’s eyes.

        • Don’t underestimate yourself, Brian. I am sure you are as amazing a Dad, as your wife is a mother. I think a hearty pat on the back is due to all parents who are invested in their children’s well being and happiness. All the best!

  4. Awwwwe I remember feeling that way on my girls first day of school, and there were only 2 of them!! Enjoy your new found freedom!

  5. Dear Mairead,
    Love your photo of your healthy grocery cart without all the things your boys want to throw in there! :-)
    Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts! Take care.

  6. Mairead,
    I was reading this last night while I was on my “holidays” with my toddlers. It made me laugh, and I thought I could write something along the same lines about this trip. I’m sure you know what taking toddler’s away for a few days is like. Not much changes for the grown ups!
    While we were away I did take one trip to the supermarket on my own, and just like your outing, I enjoyed it immensely :) We all need breaks haha.
    Thanks for another great little story I can relate so well to.

    • Liam – I feel for you – traveling with toddlers is never easy. We just returned from a 2 week trip to Washington DC, and New York. My trio are 5, and I was amazed by how much easier it was to travel with them this time, compared to two years ago. Now grocery shopping is a totally different story. I see you understand the joy of shopping alone – it’s amazing how much more focused you can be on getting what you actually need without the kids in tow. All the best!

  7. Mairead, I’m sorry I’ve been so remiss in commenting; I’ve had a tragedy in my family which has kept me busy. Like you, though, college/school has given me a bit of a breather and I’m hopeful things will get back to normal, whatever that means in my life now!

    I must give YOU major kudos for maintaining your sanity this summer with FOUR kids! I have two (19 and 15) and even when they were little I didn’t know how moms with more than two managed!

    Enjoy your peace and quiet and I’ll be popping in to read the posts you’ll be able to compose now that you have so much “extra time”! hee hee, I wrote that without spitting coffee all over my computer screen 😉

    • Pamela – So sorry to hear about your family – I hope you draw strength and encouragement from your friends and family as you work through these difficult times.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving another lovely comment. I was hoping to write reams everyday, but I find my day slips by before I get half of what I planned accomplished. We also bought a new puppy, just in case I might feel lonely without the kids!!!!! I am a glutton for punishment.

      Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!


  8. Shirley Mills says:

    Just stumbled onto your blog…I think through The Lumberjack’s Wife (I love her blog!) I’m also loving yours. My maiden name is McGuire, and though my ancestry includes American Indian, among who- knows-what from this great melting pot of a country, I’ve always had a fascination with Ireland. I would love to visit there some day. My oldest daughter was born on St. Patrick’s Day, so she shares my dreams of experiencing Ireland. I’m also excited to read a blog by a mom of school-age children who is not under age 35. I had my first child at age 32 and my last at 37, and have been wondering if there was a blog out there that shared my perspective of being a tired, “oldest women in America” mom. I too, cannot make it through a movie without falling asleep. Just getting ready to celebrate my 50th birthday in a few weeks. And I totally relate to your shopping with kids experience. Two summers ago, when my kids were old enough to stay home alone, I offered to pay them to not go along when I went grocery shopping, as it would end up costing me less in the long run! And my son seems to think he needs to “drive” the shopping cart at all times, all over, even in circles if I need him to stay close by, and sometimes from the front, rather than from behind where the handle is, making it tricky, but oh-so-much-fun to steer. Even though my kids are old enough now to stay alone I am lucky enough to get to be home with them in the summer, as I work as a para-educator at an elementary school. I love my summers at home! My first day back to work (two days before the kids started) my middle daughter decided to add 3 additional piercings to her ears, all by herself! I noticed them two days later! I think it’s good that they are not left to their own devices all summer long!! Being a stay-at-home mom is the best job in the world. I was able to do it part-time for 2 1/2 years and full-time for 4 1/2 years until my youngest was in kindergarten. Working for the school is the next best thing as I have (almost) all the same days off that they do. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Glad I found you!

    • Shirley – I am so happy you found my blog too, and thank you for your wonderful comment. I realize now that it will be many years before the experience of shopping with my kids will improve. My boys have just started wanting to push the cart all the time just like your boy, and of course they do spin it in circles too. We came close to a total overturn one day.

      Please do come back and visit. My postings focus on Ireland, Irish cooking, what I love about America and my experiences as an older mom. Best wishes and have a lovely weekend.

      Mairead (rhymes with parade).

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