I’m about to head out on one of my infamous lunch break errands. Before kids, I rarely took a lunch break, and if I did I would actually go out to eat or maybe for a walk. Now it is not for eating or relaxing. I can eat at my desk, and relax….well, on a girl’s weekend…in a few months. Sometimes I will pick up food while I’m out to take a break from the monotony of turkey sandwiches, leftovers and Lean Cuisines. But only if the task at hand has been accomplished and I have a few minutes to spare.
I am lucky to have the nicest Marshall’s in San Diego (maybe even in Southern California?) near my office. I used to hate Marshall’s and stores like it. I didn’t want to take the time to sort through them to find something good and the disorganization stressed me out. But I’ve learned a trick: go there with one thing in mind. Realize that one hour over your lunch break is enough time to search through the shoes or workout clothes or home decor, but not all three. I have made some great purchases there over the past year, including dresses for weddings, Cole Haan pumps for work meetings, a wall clock for our loft, etc. Today I’m going looking for place mats or other decor for my newly painted dining room table and the shelving unit behind it.
Most of the time my lunch errands are for things I need, not things I want (like cheap house decor). I run to the bank, post office and even the grocery store. I drop clothes off at Goodwill. I remember being annoyed with my old boss, who would go to Trader Joe’s at lunch and take up the entire office fridge with her dinner ingredients. I didn’t get it. How hard is it to just run into the store when you pick up the kids from school? And now I understand! Sorry, Kim, for doubting you. Her kids are close in age like mine, so getting two little people in and out of car seats and into the store takes longer than it does to get the five things you forgot when you did your weekly shopping on Sunday. So problem solved: lunch break grocery run! So what if my assistant thinks I’ve lost my mind when I stock the fridge with mini Eggos, milk and cilantro?
The obvious advantage to lunch time shopping is you can use the time you’d otherwise use surfing the Internet for a break, doing something productive. And you are already (presumably) paying someone to watch your kids. They are safe and happy and you aren’t missing quality time with them, or dragging them along on boring errands.
One possible disadvantage is impulse buying. This is not a huge issue when grocery shopping. You are not going to regret buying apples. But when shopping for clothes or home items (even if it is something you “need”) you may be in a rush and in a moment of indecision, move forward with a purchase that you wouldn’t have if you had more time to think about it. Or you buy a shirt that makes your boobs look like torpedoes, because you didn’t try it on. I will admit I return about 15 percent of my lunch time purchases, but I do it on another lunch break. So while I lose some time, it’s not time with my family, so overall it’s still worth it.