When I was pregnant with my second daughter, and my older daughter was still under 18 months, I decided I was going to run an errand every day before the baby was born. I thought, surely, if I get the hang of going out with one kid, it won’t be that much harder to get out with two!
Oh man, was I wrong! As it turns out, going out with two little kids (and even one, for that matter!) is hard work. Especially in the newborn days, it seemed like I was just finished feeding and changing one baby before the other needed something. And then when I had the second baby ready to go, it was time for bed. Okay - maybe I’m exaggerating just a little. But if you have babies (and if you’re reading, I’m assuming you do or will soon), you know what I’m talking about. Some days it’s all I can do just to keep up with the needs of my tiny humans at home, let alone getting the three of us out the door and having a productive day. When I saw other moms out and about with young kids, I would look at them and think, how do they have it so together?
If you’re feeling more like me and less like those other moms that appear to be totally nailing this mom thing, keep reading! I promise you that if I can learn to have a successful outing, you can too.
First, practice makes (almost) perfect. If you’re a total newbie to getting out with your kids, start small. Play in your yard, and try to plan to have everything you need to be outside and stay outside for an hour. This will help you develop a good sense for what you need to do and what you need to bring along when you plan to be out and about. Once you get good at being close to home, go for a walk around the neighborhood. Then go for longer walks, and then finally a drive! I’m incredibly lucky to live in an area where I have the option of walking to the playground, the coffee shop, and some shops all within about two miles. We started with just half mile walks to the playground. I then found a great, stroller-friendly loop where the kids could play, I could get a coffee, and we could all get home in good spirits and with about 3 miles of exercise! Especially in the first months when sleep was rare, the physical activity really lifted my energy and mood. Giving my toddler a change of scenery also really helped her behavior. Walking was, and still is, our preferred way to get around. But once we really got the hang of these hour or two walks, driving to the store to run errands became much less intimidating.
The other important part of a successful outing is to prepare, prepare, prepare! Make sure that you have reasonably satisfied the needs of yourself and your kids before heading out the door. Did they just eat? Are they in fresh diapers? Is nap time as far off as reasonably possible? Allow yourself the biggest gap in time so you’ll be less stressed by time. For us, this usually is only about 2-3 hours at a time, and we have more flexibility in the afternoon than the morning. If you’re driving somewhere, feeding and/or changing your kids in the car before going into a store can give you an extra 20 or so minutes.
When packing your bag, think of everything you might need while you’re out. But pack only what you REALLY need. The more you pack, the more you have to carry. So be prepared, but not too prepared.
Here are a list of my essentials:
- A comfortable, nursing friendly outfit for mom. I’m currently living in the Belabumbum Maternity & Nursing Romper ! It’s soft, lightweight, and has super easy breastfeeding access. I always make sure to wear clothes with discrete nursing access. Even when I breastfeed right before leaving the house, my daughter always seems to want to eat when we’re out! We don’t have much success with using nursing covers, but I like to stay covered up for my own comfort. When I’m wearing clothes specifically designed for breastfeeding, I can still do this even without a nursing cover.
- A good nursing bra. Especially if you’ll be walking, you want to feel well supported and ready to breastfeed quickly and easily. I have found that I’m most comfortable in sports bras. Two of my favorites are the La Leche League Sports Nursing Bra (which has thicker straps but is the most supportive nursing bra I own), and the Bamboobies Yoga Bra (which has thin straps, padding, and comes in a fun bright pink color!).
- A bag that’s easy to keep organized.
- Water. For you and your kids!
- A snack. You may not need it, but it may be the difference between a peaceful outing and a meltdown. I’m not below bribery! It works, Mama. Even if you’re at the store, you’ll save money and time if you bring a small snack from home.
- Change of diapers and clothes. The more compact, the better!
- Wet wipes and a wet bag.
- A good stroller. We rely the most on our single lightweight stroller (the Chicco Echo is pictured here).
- An ergonomic baby carrier . [Although a double stroller is a necessary investment when you have two kids under the age of two years old, I’m almost always wearing at least one of the girls when I’m out on my own.] I’m much more efficient with my hands free! And if my younger daughter is teething or tired, she’s way more content to be worn than in a stroller.
And finally, no matter how much you practice or how much you prepare, things will sometimes go wrong. Make sure to offer yourself grace! Just like when you’re at home, you’ll have good days and bad days. Brush off the bad ones, and get back out the next day!