By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Feb 21, 2005 at 5:24 AM

{image1}Granted there are much more important issues, but I am completely annoyed by most shopping carts.

As a mother of two toddlers who spends eight or nine hours a day alone with her kids, I am alarmed at the lack of sensibility in the modern shopping cart design. If the average number of children in the United States is still just under two, why is there only one seat in the cart?

"When my boys were younger I'd have one in the sling, one on my back and one in the seat. We managed but it wasn't very fun," says Renee Vizi.

Other parents of multiple young'uns say they feel forced to hire a babysitter, which tacks another expense onto their already-bloated grocery bill.

"I couldn't fit all the food we needed for the week in the cart with my 3-year-old in the basket part," says Pam Rice. "I either had to make two trips a week or hire a sitter and make one. Either way, it cost me more money."

Aldi Foods, a German chain of discount grocery stores, is one of the only food depots in the city with twin, side-by-side child seats in the front of its shopping carts. However, a parent doesn't always have the shopping-list flexibility to rely on Aldi's inconsistent stock, nor the quarter on hand to rent one of the carts.

In theory, the double-seated "truck carts" are a good idea. After all, what toddler doesn't have a yen for wheeled vehicles? But truck carts are a real bee-otsch to steer, and even more of an obstacle is the fact there's rarely one available. You would think that suburban grocery stores -- where there are almost as many stay-at-home moms as cans of cling peaches -- would have an impressive fleet of truck carts, but most stores only have a few.

Sucks to be Mom.

The shopping carts without buckle straps are most perplexing. These carts were clearly designed by the devil. Turn your back to grab a simple box of fish sticks and you're kid might crack his head open. ("Clean up, aisle four!")

Unfortunately, if you have more than one small child, the possibility of your kid falling out of the cart is a constant fear. Most of the time, I put one babe in the seat and one in the basket, even though the plastic seat-flap reminds with simple diagrams that this is a very bad idea. This is a perfect example of the kind of conundrum that makes a parent crazy: Am I supposed to leave one of my kids alone in the car just so he isn't at risk in a shopping cart? Maybe I should flip a coin: heads he stays alone in the Wal-Mart parking lot; tails he goes in the cart and risks lower SAT scores.

Those mini shopping carts that allow kids to "pretend shop" are very cute, but obviously were designed by the parents of Cabbage Patch Kids, not human children.

"The little carts have always been a nightmare for us. I just don't seem to have one of those compliant kids who will follow me around," says Jennifer Baynes.

Join the club, Jenny. I let my son Kai steer a mini cart one time at Outpost and my heels still bleed at the mere mention of it.

Stephanie Ryan, who lives near the Pick 'n Save on 76th and Rawson in Franklin, might have the solution. She takes advantage of the store's free child care.

"(The Franklin Pick 'n Save) has a free child care area for children 2 and over," she says. "They are allowed to stay for an hour and are supervised and gated in. The kids can play games, read, do art, crawl in the 'tubes' or watch a video."

Strategically placed monitors allow parents to keep an eye on their child and their caretakers, and parents are paged if need be.

"My husband and I sometimes think we are on a date for an hour," says Ryan.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.