Do you ever feel like your life is part two of the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles?" Whether you're pregnant and getting ready for your new arrival, or you have one or more children, it seems as if you are always running around. Even a "quick" trip to the mall can require 30 minutes of preparation as you find yourself scrambling to pack up supplies, find that favorite blanket and grab just the right jacket-all to help your baby or toddler through the outing. Whether you're out just with the kids running errands or as a family for a week's vacation, I've got some great ideas to help you plan for a fun, safe and easy time, every time!
Make It a Great Day
Only a mom can fully appreciate the planning it takes for a one-day outing. Not only do you have to figure out how to get to your destination, but you also need to figure out how your child or children will maneuver the location once you arrive. Will she walk? Will she need her stroller? If you have two young children, should you bring two single strollers or one double stroller? Will you need to bring lunch, a snack, a bottle or juice? Will you need some form of entertainment such as crayons or books? No matter where you are going or what you are doing, when you have children one thing is certain-you need to bring a trunk-load of stuff. If you forget the stroller, your back will pay for it. If you forget your baby bag, you will be on the hunt for the nearest grocery store for supplies. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Have in the diaper bag age-appropriate toys that you can give to your baby or child when you are on the move. You can rotate toys so you aren't always giving him the same one or you can surprise him with his very favorite. You will need a bag full of tricks, so to speak.
- Keep an extra set of supplies in the stroller. Travel-size wipes, a small diaper cream, a few diapers, Band-aids and a onesie are staples. This will be your emergency supply so don't use these unless you forget your diaper bag or run out of diapers.
- Keep your toddler away from the stroller when you are folding it to get into the car. Her fingers and hands can get caught. Your child may have a toy stroller and feel she can play with the real thing, but you need to discourage this.
Have a Real Vacation!
While it's a treat just to have the whole family together for a day, there's nothing like a vacation for some real family time. Of course, "vacation" is a word that all fathers love and all mothers fear. While we say with a smile how much we want to get away, we know the truth: We will spend more time packing, unpacking, wrangling the kids together and planning for everyone than we will resting. Plus, we will need a week to recover from this "vacation"-and it's a week we'll never get. But there are ways to make this not just efficient but also fun for you and your family. Some pointers:
- Again, toys are tops! It's hard to be out in public during a squirmy diaper change. The new environment will have her moving around even more than usual. You'll be glad for that favorite toy, which can become the go-to distraction device.
- If you are going on a plane, you will need what I call an emergency survival kit. It consists of things I know will keep my little ones busy. I find some great age-appropriate toys to keep little hands busy. Here are some of the things in my kit: stickers and sticker books (there are hundreds of sticker varieties, from princesses to sports and every kind of animal; plus, letter and number stickers for your little speller or counter); a small box of crayons and coloring books; a magic pen book (the kind where the ink only appears with a "magic pen"); a favorite book or two (also good for bedtime when you arrive at your destination).
- Don't be afraid to say no. When you're expecting and trying to squeeze in one last trip away for just the two of you, your body will tell you what you can and can't do and you need to listen to the signals it's giving you. You will have good days and bad days. And while you hope that the bad days are few and far between, you need to give yourself a break when your body is telling you to do just that-take a break!
On the Move at Home
Babies don't have to leave the house at all to have some of their greatest adventures. So even when you're just spending the day at home, stay sharp to make sure that when your child is taking his first steps, they're not in the wrong direction. Here are some things to keep in mind for safe-at-home exploration:
- Be sure to put away all small objects, tiny toys or balloons. Even while you are supervising your son, these are not an option.
- Install a childproof latch on the outside of the bathroom door to prevent your daughter from entering. Don't wait until you have an issue. Some rooms need to be off limits to your baby.
- You probably know to use outlet covers for electrical outlets. But keep in mind that extension cords can be hazardous as well and always should be kept away from children.
Easy Does It
One thing everyone can agree on, no matter how exhausting or challenging, time on the go with your child is irreplaceable. The astonished look on her face when she sees something for the first time is unforgettable. It's up to us to find the time to make these moments happen, which means learning how to enjoy getting from point A to point B (and perhaps forgetting about the fact we still need to get to points C and D). Follow my tips to make it easier, and more fun, for everyone in your household.