I've just survived the most vicious of sales: It was "50 per cent off kids" clothes at Farmers.
I don't know if retail shopping gets more intense in New Zealand. These sales aren't for the faint-hearted.
I gave up on the Farmers sale some years ago, when I couldn't handle the chaos and decided I was okay with paying full price for the odd thing if it saved me the stress of shopping when a department store is in sale mode.
With two older children (6 and 4), we don't need clothes as often anymore but with a 5-month-old baby who's growing rapidly, I found myself having to brave it.
So, having skipped breakfast and only partially fed the baby, I threw the kids in the car, practically hurled the older two out at school and daycare, and hoofed it across town to get to Farmers in the mall by 9am. Any later and you're toast in that place.
Somehow, the planets aligned for me and I was in and out within half an hour, with 16 items and only a short wait at the counter. They had my size, in fact, most sizes, something that never seems to happen for me during a sale.
As I walked out, the chaos was starting.
At least a dozen mums, most with children in pushchairs, stalked the aisles.
Some, pushing racing strollers, had armed their children with bento boxes full of snacks to sustain them for the battle ahead. Pretzels, rice crackers, grapes.
Toddlers sat snacking, bored. Others were looking for a fight.
One stuck his leg out at my stroller wanting some attention.
Then there were "The Hardcores". These mums mean business. They've been here before and they know what they're doing.
Ain't no stroller gonna hold them back from their bargains. They've come with front packs. Mumma needs two hands for this.
I'd guess some took annual leave for this. It's not really savings if you're losing hours at work, but who doesn't shop based on what they save?
I receive a text message from my husband informing me that two schools near our daughter's are in lock down because of gunshots.
I reply: "I just bought 16 things and it cost me $90!"
I had a $60 voucher from spending about $6 million last time which "saved" us even more.
The Hardcores rummage through racks while jiggling babies on their fronts. I look on in envy at their freedom. My son is probably half their age and twice the size.
As I walk out, it's getting busier. The racks don't look as tidy and lines are getting longer.
A rolling chorus of "sorry" sounds as I walk, purchases complete, back towards the exit.
Everyone's apologising for their strollers being in the way of the racks, but they don't really mean it. They're using them to block the others from getting close so they can get in first.
Children are making odd noises and howling like animals. They've been here too long even though it's only been five minutes.
I pass some clever mums who have gone to the otherwise empty homewares counter to pay.
That's usually what I do too, but I'd got in and escaped early and was off to spend some of my savings on a McMufffin combo.
That's a Mum Life win.