Moms are busy; really, really busy. Too busy to do much of anything besides laundry, dishes and cooking, unless, of course, you count picking up toys and trying to find a few minutes to brush your teeth during the day. Moms have a tough job. As the mother of two toddler girls, I know that with every bit of certainty in my body. When my youngest was born I was terrified to leave home with two kids by myself, leaving errands for the evenings when my husband was home and we could all go together or I could sneak in an hour of grocery shopping by myself. Now that my youngest is a year old and my oldest is going to start school in a few months, I realized that I have to put on my big girl panties and start leaving home with my kids. Many other moms have the same fear, and many moms have shared with me their tips for making an outing with two small children a little less stressful.
Always Be Ready
Moms often make a joke of being late for everything because it takes so long to get multiple little people – and themselves – dressed and out the front door in a timely manner. Moms can save a few minutes by always having the diaper bag fully stocked. When I come home from anything, the first thing I do is refill the water bottle, replace used outfits/diapers/panties with new ones and make sure the wipe container is fully stocked. I wash the folding potty seat, dry it and place it in a new plastic bag and then I return the diaper bag to the car. The next time I have to go somewhere, the bag is already ready to go and in the car, which makes things so much easier for me.
Designate a Toy Bag
Keeping the kids entertained in the car is one of the most important things you can do for your own sanity. One kid is happy to watch a DVD, but the other hates the DVD player and wants toys. Tossing toys into your purse, letting the kids grab them as you head out the door and/or having to run back and forth between the car and the toy room when you realize you have no toys in the car is a hassle. Add to that the fact that when a kid takes her favorite toy in the car and then forgets to bring it in, you then have to go get it. In the pouring rain when it is approximately 45 degrees outside (because kids never want things from the car during nice weather or when you actually parked in the garage). Designate one bag for toys and let the kids pick the ones they want to live in the car. These toys never leave the car; they are only for car trips. You won’t find yourself lugging toys back and forth between the house and the car and you will always be prepared.
Use the same concept as the toy bag for a snack bag. Of course, you can’t leave snacks in the car (ew) but you can leave them in a bag in the pantry as long as they don’t require refrigeration. When you get home from an outing, refill the snack bag with whatever was eaten while you were out and place it in its designated spot. When it’s time to leave, you will only need to grab it.
Outline the Plan Ahead of Time
With a one year old and a four year old, I can tell my four year old what I expect before we arrive anywhere. When we go to the grocery store, I promise her that we will stop for a cookie and that we will drive the green race car cart, but that when I get her out of the car she has to hold onto my side at all times while I remove her sister from her car seat, and she must hold my hand all the way to the store. By telling her that she has to sit down at all times, never remove her seatbelt in the cart and behave because she is the good example for her sister, she is more willing to actually listen, which makes shopping so much easier.