When a mom has small children, staying home is often easier than going out and about.
Believe me, I have done my share of online shopping and boycotting shopping altogether since I have had my two babies. Nevertheless, the time comes when a mom begins feeling brave and is ready to venture out again. By the way, I believe occasionally leaving the four walls of home is refreshing and uplifting on all levels, but I do like my stay at home days too!
I had an extended at home time after my first baby was born and followed the same routine after the second. Once I get into my new routine, I’m able to handle going out in public much easier. Going out with Daddy or another family member is always the preferred method as it makes things more stress-free, but that’s not always possible.
Most of the time, short outings and quick trips are best with a toddler and a preschooler.
For the days my crew has an outing, I try to have a good plan in place to organize our day and help things go as scheduled. Here are some of the things I do to simplify life on-the-go with a toddler and a preschooler.
Stock the Diaper Bag.
Add extra diapers and changes of clothes to your bag. You will always need more diapers than you think, and the one time you don’t have a change of clothes, you will need it! I promise! Also pack snacks, drinks, toys, books, and anything else you deem important!
Beef Up the Car Entertainment.
I keep music, audio books, and DVDs available in the car at all times. We almost always have some kind of music playing in the car. Sometimes it’s music I like or the children’s favorites, but whatever, we all like to sing along! DVDs and audio books are useful for times when waiting in the car is necessary.
Purchase a Reliable Stroller.
Our stroller is stored in our vehicle so it’s always ready when we need it. A family member purchased us a really nice stroller, so we have used it for both children, and it’s still almost like new. We use it all the time at the grocery store and for miscellaneous shopping trips and other outdoor activities.
Prepare for Restaurants.
One way to prepare for eating out is to have a list of family friendly restaurants where your family likes to eat. We have two restaurants where we eat most of the time when going out. Our children like the food, and they know what to expect when we eat at those restaurants.
Purchase disposable bibs for meals eaten out. It’s a win, win! There are no bibs to wash upon returning home and clothes are kept relatively clean. If you run out of bibs, a napkin made into a bib is always a good substitute!
Snack While You Shop.
Pack plenty of snacks and drinks for shopping. Children usually get hungry and/or bored during a shopping trip, so snacks keep them occupied for a brief time.
I also allow them to choose a toy to hold as we look around the store. We return the toy before checking out, and sometimes I allow them to choose a small toy (under five dollars) as a prize for good behavior.
Plan for Restroom Breaks.
I’m not very keen on using changing tables for obvious reasons. I have used them rarely, but most of the time we just change diapers in the car. Potting training is a new experience for any parent, but to simplify some of the yucky situations of public restrooms we keep a children’s potty chair in our vehicle. This has saved us when a restroom isn’t available and a child suddenly can’t wait any longer! We pulled off the road once for our son to use the potty chair, and a policeman stopped to see if he could help us. We told him our baby was just using the potty chair and he went on his way! He was a young guy, so that may have been a first for him in his line of work!
Don’t Overlook Cleanliness.
Invest in a cover for high chairs/shopping carts to keep some of the germs at bay. Another option is wiping down the high chair/shopping cart. I used a cover more with my first baby, and now I often wipe down a high chair with wipes and/or Thieves Household Cleaner. I have a little travel sized bottle of cleaner that I keep in my bag. Thieves Household Cleaner is an all-purpose cleaner that I use regularly and highly recommend. It is non-toxic, safe, and the essential oils make it smell wonderful! If you are interested in purchasing it, I recommend you read My Journey to Essential Oils.
We regularly use Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier to sanitize our hands after being out and about. Wet wipes are also handy for cleaning hands, wiping noses, or dabbing up spills.
When we return home, we clean the trash out of the vehicle, and our goal is to regularly clean out the vehicle and car seats, and sometimes we do a good job with this goal!
It’s amazing how many things you learn as a new parent. I hope my suggestions will help new and experienced parents alike! No list is ever exhaustive, and you probably thought of additional advice as you read my ideas.
What do you do to simplify life on-the-go with toddlers and preschoolers? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Even if you have grown children, tell me what worked for you during the toddler and preschool years. These little years move along much too quickly, so let’s do what we can to help each other think creatively!
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