Get Out of the House Already: Being Mobile with Baby
We've all had them: Days lived in pajamas and ponytails (dads included). Time gathered away to some far off corner of nowhere, spent drifting from meal to clean up to pick up to poo change to tears wiped to smiles loved to meal to clean up and back again. Some of us have grown entirely too used to these days occurring consecutively and, dare I say, in the same pajamas (yoga pants?)? Why?
More often than not, in my experience, the undertaking of leaving the house was just too much to bear after another night of pseudo-sleep and waking to all the chores I've been meaning to do. So, I'd just stay in, hoping to get it done and feel refreshed to get out tomorrow. This dreamland tomorrow just never comes often enough, though. The struggle is real, and so is the question: How can I leave the house easily, quickly, with a baby, or two, or even three (three-year-olds not withstanding this designation)?
I remember the summer after my daughter's first birthday. We lived at the beach. YES, at the actual beach. I had to walk no more than 50 steps to the sand, and another 30 to the water and STILL I barely got there. I realized this one day, that I was lost in the homebound new mom frump, when I saw that I had every single morning free with my baby and had only made it down there a handful of times in two months. To the beach. Where we lived. Uff. I got right into action to Straighten. That. Crap. Out.
I can only imagine how challenging it is when getting out involves way more (cars and parking and traffic, oh my), and the location isn't nearly so dreamy. Here's how I resolved to get out of the house each morning, and fast, and how I think you could, too:
Five Ways to Guarantee Getting Out of the House Fast with that Baby:
1. Pre-pack for the location
This is totally worth the effort. If there is a regular type of outing that you want to enjoy regularly, keep a bag packed with essentials. In my case, our beach bag began to live by the door with our suits, hats, towels, sunscreen, and little shovels and buckets. If it's the park you love, keep a park bag ready with a blanket and some soft toys for baby. Shopping? Keep the reusable shopping bags in the car and take nothing extra.
2. Stay mobile
One of my claims to fame as a babywearing mama is that I never owned a stroller. Sure, okay, I'll admit I'm a bit elitist, but actually it was just so nice not to lug around a bulky stroller (never sand-friendly, never curb and city stairs friendly). Our Boba Carrier was by far the most practical and well-loved piece of baby gear we owned. No matter where we went, our daughter traveled close and snuggled, and my hands were free for the rest. It sure makes nursing a breeze on the go, too! I've seen how baby carrier mobility is especially helpful with multiple children, the older of which love to hold our hands.
3. Strip it down
Keep your diaper bag stocked, but essential. Decide what you actually need for a few hours out. Generally, one change of clothing, a warm layering top, four diapers, a small pack of wipes, and one small tube of cream can generally get you through any morning or afternoon out. Consider a smaller diaper bag, or a combined bag of your and the baby's essentials. You can keep baby’s essentials and your keys, wallet and lipgloss (essential) in a cute messenger bag or backpack. I suggest storing it on top or to the side of the changing station. This way, it is easy to "change" the bag as you're there with baby. Designate this one bag for this one function, always know where it is and make it easy to reboot daily.
Each of your older children can have their own ever-stocked knapsack, too. Again, just the essentials. Train them early to check their bags and get them to the car, first together and then independently as they get older. This way, you are helping them train up their own mobility, take responsibility for themselves, learn natural consequences, and make your job easier.
4. Keep your snack stash handy
Much like your bags, keeping snacks stocked and ready to go (even homemade ones) is incredibly helpful for getting out of the house. Just keep a few boxes or tupperware stocked with your favorites (from crackers to carrot sticks to cheese sticks to juice boxes). Don't forget your own adult favourites (meaning chocolate and paté, not "juice" boxes). Consider ditching the bottled water and try a nice stainless steal water bottle for each member of the family!
5. Time it well
The difficulty level of getting out fluctuates depending on the time of day you are trying to leave. I found that one reason I wasn't living the daily beach life of my dreams was because I was trying to get a million things done in the morning first. Morning change, breakfast, start a load of laundry, pack up, oops another change and then bam! It's already nurse and nap time. Sunk. For mornings, I began to have our breakfast at the beach. It was the secret to my success. We'd just go right through morning nap (nothing like nursing to sleep in front of the ocean). I think this approach can work for the park, too.
If you're going for an afternoon, doing a mid-nap transfer to the car seat may be a great move, if yours is the type of baby to sleep through such a transfer. Otherwise, be fully packed, car loaded, self dressed, and poised to go the moment your waking baby is changed and nursed. So, the trick to getting out quickly is just to keep it simple, and keep things ready to go. Once you get the routine of resetting the essentials after being out (daily, I say!), it will flow really naturally.
Enjoy your day (out)!