Every time I go to the grocery store I see a few couponers with neatly organized binders, pocket calculators and immaculate carts filled with BOGO spray cleaners and free-after-rebate baking soda. They're totally in their element, at peace with their shopping, until my ginourmous play-car-hybrid-cart comes barreling down the aisle and my two-year-old chucks a fistful of crumpled coupons at them.

The Stepford Couponers in my town have all become familiar with my daughter, and they usually scurry into the next aisle when they hear us coming. I've become "that" parent who dares to unleash her terrorizing toddler in the realm of civilized shoppers. Unfortunately, terrorizing toddlers cost a great deal of money to feed and clothe, so our trips to the supercenter are out of necessity as opposed to delighting in others' horror. We Toddzilla mothers are not completely without heart, and as a public service, I have developed a list of tips we can follow to reduce casualties and help restore shopping sanity!

Plan. Plan. Then plan some more!

I don't leave the house without clipped, sorted coupons and a detailed list. I also only visit familiar stores. This way I'm in and out as quickly as possible, as Toddzilla will certainly use any time spent searching to go on a destructive rampage.

Childproof your coupon container

A plain 'ole binder just won't cut it when you are shopping with Toddzilla, who enjoys feeding on and destroying small scraps of paper. That three dollar off Tide coupon you spent an hour clicking refresh on Facebook to score? It could be reduced to shreds after a few seconds in Todzilla's clutches. If you're a binder type of couponer, buy a heavy duty one that zips. Also try keeping your binder in a large tote bag and sling it safely over your shoulder. If binders aren't your thing, carry your coupons in a card box that snaps securely, or in a small purse or clutch you can keep on yourself and away from your cart. Word has it the fanny pack has been making a comeback among couponing Toddzilla moms nationwide!

That play-car-hybrid-cart I mentioned? Get it.

I know it's huge and cumbersome. It's also capable of crushing bystanders' toes! But an unoccupied Toddzilla is a far more substantial threat. If you make your shopping trip quick, you can convince Toddzilla that she's doing nothing more than playing in a toy car. You have to move like lighting though, because Toddzilla will become enraged once she notices any productive use of time or saving of money going on.

Bring a Buddy

Those who say two kids are worse than one are usually right, unless one is an older, well-mannered child who is idolized by Toddzilla. If you have school-aged children, try doing the shopping after school when they can help keep Toddzilla occupied and restrained. If you don't have older children, take comfort in the thought that one day your Toddzilla will mature into a well-mannered older child who will be able to help wrangle future Toddzillas. Then borrow someone else's kid for some shopping trip assistance. You may even employ a tween as a Mother's Helper for an hour of shopping help per week. It'll be the best fifteen dollars you ever spent!

Take advantage of store perks

Did you know that some grocery stores offer free childcare? Yeah, neither did I until I was standing near a puddle of spilled milk in the condiments aisle, looking ashamed, and a kindhearted employee told me I could just drop my Toddzilla off in the tot spot at the front of the store. Needless to say, they know us now in the tot spot. But they keep it well hidden, so try calling some of your favorite shopping destinations to see if they offer something similar. Also, "customer with small children" parking spaces, carryout and candy-free checkout lanes are your friends.

Food and games save the day

Snacks, drinks and toys can all help diffuse Toddzilla attacks. Keep a hidden stash specifically for shopping trips since Toddzilla's biggest weakness is a shiny, new treat. Instead of throwing out unwanted or expired coupons, make your Toddzilla her own small coupon binder to hold and flip through while shopping. This will make her feel grown up, and she'll be more likely to emulate your responsible, non-destructive behavior. An older Toddzilla may enjoy playing "find the item on the coupon," and if you aren't above bribery you can reward her with a cookie sample from the bakery if she successfully finds the items on her coupons without any tantrums, carnage or arrests.

Remember that it isn't as bad as you think

Even the snooty Stepford Couponers have probably been in your shoes before. Worried that the cashiers are judging you? As a former cashier, let me tell you that their line of work involves dealing with some doozies, and a rambunctious Toddzilla is not likely to faze them. Sometimes you need to just let Toddzilla have her tantrum, and discipline accordingly. If anyone makes rude comments, point them in the direction of the free-after-store-coupon cereal and watch them scatter.

This has been a guest post by Marissa from Green Bay, WI
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