girl and her mom shop for stationary
Green baskets, for when you'd like help with supervising your child, but are otherwise "just browsing." Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Shopping Basket Color-Code System That We *Need*

I can't understand why store employees insist on interrupting your lotion-sniffing marathon in Sephora to see if you "need any help." But, outside of wearing one of those "I'm anxious" thunder vests people put on nervous pups, there hasn't been a way to signal "please leave me and the stadium of false eyelashes alone," until now. A European Sephora store has gotten the gist with new color-coded baskets that signal that employees should either a) leave you the F alone so you can try on lipstick and see how yellow it makes your teeth look without an audience, or b) follow you around with a litter of must-have eye-shadow palettes, but I'm not satisfied. We need more baskets. We need all the baskets that say for us what we can't.

Because if women are shoppers, then moms are what keep an entire company from closing 20 stores in their fourth quarter. It is a loaves and fishes miracle if I can feed and clothe and diaper and care for my family of four without heading into at least one store a week. And, 90% of the time, I am heading into the great retail jungle with at least one tangle-haired daughter of mine either on my hip or being dragged through the parking lot as she whines for a cake pop. (You know what store I'm going into, come on now.)

Grabbing a basket is sheer optimism for me at this point. Firstly, I absolutely need more things than can fit in a basket. Secondly, the basket does not help contain my children in any possible way. I've essentially just given myself another child to tote around, and this one doesn't help hold its chunky little rubber-band thighs up for me either. Thirdly, the basket seems to have a siren attached that shouts "please come tell me about your sales!!!" as I try to keep my 1-year-old from screaming so loud it shatters the candles she's reaching for.

But if I do decide to grab a basket, here's how I'd like them coded.

The Neon Orange Basket

This one's a warning: Hey. I don't need you to tell me about your doorbuster prize if I spend $250 (I have enough tiny, crappy snow globes with the year engraved on it at home, thanks), but I do need you to watch out for my kid dismantling the mannequin because you think I can focus on you, her, and this buttery soft velvet blazer I will wear absolutely nowhere.

The Wicker Basket

This one is as much an aesthetic as it is a message: I'm absolutely going to Instagram the sh*t out of my kids standing in front of this organic produce stand in their buffalo check tunics, so just back off already.

The Metal Basket With Rose Gold Handles

Literally everything in this godforsaken store is too expensive, but I'm still going to try on the long floral dress and pretend that I have the perky breasts of my pre-breastfeeding days to go without a bra since there are only two criss-crossed ribbons of fabric making up the back. I'm considering wearing it for a family photo, in which the rest of my brood will be clad in buy-one-get-one Old Navy fleece. Please leave me alone so I can keep this fantasy going.

The Talking Target Basket

"Sweetie," the basket will say as soon as I pick it up. "No. I see that you're holding hands with one child who insists they can 'walk by myself!!!!!' and we all know you're hitting up the Joanna Gaines aisle with an extra pep in your step. Just get the cart already. Also I'm tired of having Starbucks Venti Pumpkin Spice Lattes spilled in me when you try to snap a picture for Instagram stories."

A pink basket says yes my daughter loves princess merch, so don't you dare let anything Disney-branded reach her at eye level. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Enormous Cloth Basket

I don't need you to pull any additional sizes for me, I don't need your help shopping for an "event," and I don't need to know about your new intimates line. Yes, I've shopped here before. I'm just here to load this basket up with children's leggings with the reinforced knee and a few packs of baby socks to keep my dryer fed.

The Sticky Plastic Basket

I need to see absolutely zero demonstrations of how that waffle maker actually works because I'm not buying it, but we came here for lunch, so could you just give us three samples and be done with it?

The Basket On Wheels

I have my list, I have my path mapped out, and all I need to know from you is where the discounted princess dresses are.

The Giant Canvas Tote

I'm picking this up because you're going to tell me you can start a fitting room for me if you see me without one, and look, I haven't tried on anything since 2013. My children are both crying, there's more dry shampoo than hair on my head, and I have to find three college football team shirts for my husband's first Instagram post in six months, he's counting on me.

The Bright White Basket With A Red Cross Symbol

I've walked in eight circles with a feverish toddler and all I can find is gas drops, please tell me where the Children's Tylenol is. And if you could go grab some Go-Gurts with the Spongebob face on them — not the Paw Patrol, for f*ck's sake, this is serious — a pack of diapers in a size 5, and that giant bottle of Desitin that costs more than anyone in this store makes in two hours and then kindly leave me alone, I would really appreciate it.

The Basket With Handles Too Long To Hold At Your Side, But Too Short To Put On Your Shoulder

No I don't want help, we just eat off Frozen plates for dinner, we find my leftover meatloaf is most edible when the promise of Olaf peeking out from the ketchup is there, of course I'm having a damn party, please leave me alone. But wait, yes can you help! I need you to blow up a bouquet of balloons that will take up 50% of the party budget. Thank you! For Instagram, you know.

The Christmas-Themed Tote

I feel like Buddy the Elf right now, please talk to me! Where are the ornaments?! Did you get in any new tree-scented candles?! I already have Iowa Pine For You Always, where is Frasier Fir Real, This Is The Holliest & Jolliest?! Did you know that when you Christmas shop without children after mainlining two peppermint mochas into your blood stream, you can see sounds?!

The Abandoned Basket Full Of Home Decor On Aisle 3

I just got an estimate from the orthodontist and after insurance, we still owe $800 for braces. Sorry you have to put back all those modern farmhouse shiplap white-washed candle pedestals.

The Basket With The Broken Handles

You know exactly which craft emporium I'm in, so the question is: do you have any glitter packs that don't cost over $5? It just seems silly to pay $8.99 to sweep my own floors, is all.