My husband works many 24-hour shifts causing me to have to juggle life, business, and my home most days by myself. Therefore, everywhere I go, I have to pack the kids up and take them with me. I have three children, and many tasks are easier now because my kids are a little older…but I remember a time when things were not so simple. My oldest two children are only two years apart, and caring for a toddler and infant at the same time is never easy. With an infant, toddler, stroller and two car seats, I ran my errands, went to meetings, church, grocery shopping…and anything else that needed to get done. If you have at least one small kid you know how hard that can be.
Needless to say, I am no stranger to leaving home with kids in tow. Even all these years later, when you see me in person, I more than likely will have my three kids trailing behind me. Even though two of my kids are older (ages 7 and 5) I still apply the following tips every time I leave the house. Because I have implemented the following tips for so many years now, these small habits have become second nature to my kids as well.
Having one small child is a handful in itself. I know how difficult it can be to pack up a small child (or even more difficult when you have more than one) to go out and handle business. I have been there, and I am still going through it with my newest baby. Because I know how hard it can be, here are my top tips on how to make your outing less stressful.
Consolidate your errands.
If you can, plan running your errands around the same time on the same side of town. For example, if I have to go to my bank on the east side of town, I will also plan to grocery shop and go to the post office on the east side of town. By doing this, I save time on commuting from place to place, cutting down on the amount of time I have to keep the kids in the car.
If you can, keep the same routine.
Small children thrive with a routine, and believe it or not, small children function better on schedule. To make it easier on all of you, remain as organized and scheduled as possible. For example, if I choose to make Monday my grocery shopping day, I try to get my grocery shopping done only on Mondays. The kids eventually will learn to get used to leaving the house every Monday to go grocery shopping,
Have bag, outfits, and snacks packed the night before.
I am a big advocate of planning and preparing for your day the night before. Getting your small kids ready to go anywhere can be a hassle, and the easier you make the process, the less of a headache the whole experience will be. Choose the outfits you and each child will wear and lay them out for easy dressing. Pack your child’s bag with snacks, candy, and small toys for them to play with while you are out, and put the bag by the front the door. Prepare your purse and anything else you have to take with you tomorrow and put it by the door.
Always bring extras.
Here’s a tip that most veteran Moms live by – always bring more than you will need. When you have small children, you will always need to prepare in advance for accidents, spills, poop explosions, etc. Therefore, you will need extras of everything, everywhere. I used to keep a “just in case” bag in my car full of baby wipes, extra snacks, and an extra pair of clothes. In my diaper bag, I kept toys, snacks, one extra outfit, and a trash bag. Does you baby need a pacifier? Keep an extra on in the car, your diaper bag, and your purse. By always having what you child needs on hand, your trip will be less chaotic. Now that my kids are older, I still like to have extra snacks and juices with me when I know that I will be out and about for long periods of time.
Plan to leave the house bright and early.
When running errands with small children, it is best to try to leave the house as soon as possible. Not only will you have a better shopping experience because the crowds of people will be at work, but also your little one will also be well rested and less likely to act out. Here’s how I like to do it: After my kids wake up wake up, I get them dressed, feed them, and head out of the door. The earlier you leave the house, the more time you have to run your errands before they get cranky and need to take a nap. With all of the driving, and going from place to place, by the time you have completed all of your errands, they will be exhausted and ready to take their afternoon nap (for the win!).
If you have an appointment, plan to arrive early.
This one is a little more tricky than the other steps because now we are dealing with time. Because small children are unpredictable, this will require a lot of patience, and skill on your part (yes, it is that serious if you want to arrive on time!). As a mother will small kids, you will always have to prepare for the unpredictable along the way. Because of that, always leave the house and prepare to arrive early.
Give yourself a 15-30 minute grace period when you have to bring your small child with you to an appointment or meeting. You will need to plan everything the night before; their bag, their outfits, their snacks, your bag, and your outfits all need to be prepared and waiting for you in the morning. Decide how much time you will need to get you and your child ready, then add in the commute time. That will determine what time you need to leave the house. Always bring toys for them to play with while you are at the appointment, bring an extra outfit “just in case”, and don’t forget to pack extra snacks.
Be sharp and quick.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you toddler is throwing a tantrum in the store and you want to have a meltdown right there with her? I’ve been there. So here’s what you have to do, Mommy. Remain calm. React to the situation quickly, and handle it with patience. If your child sees or senses you freaking out, they will do the same – I guarantee it. Don’t make a scene, but talk to him or her in a stern voice and let your child know you mean business. Leave the store or excuse yourself from the room until your child relaxes and you have calmed down.
Don’t let having small kids keep you cooped up in the house. Going out may take a little more time and patience, but it can be done! Being a mom may be hard now, but your children will grow up – they won’t be small forever. Embrace the challenge, grab your stroller, and head out to have a good time.
I hope this helps!
Do you have small kids? What do you do to remain stress-free? Leave a comment below.