5 Tips to Get You and Your Little One Out—By Jeanette Perez
Having a very active and spirited toddler, I’ve learned the value of getting out of the house. At first, the thought of leaving the house alone with my wild child seemed stressful, but it turned out it wasn’t. Plus, it was needed for both of us. A change of environment, with new spaces to explore, is refreshing. Through many attempts, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work for us.
Whether you are interested in getting out of the house for one hour or four, here are five tips to get you started:
Find Your Go-To Spots—Personally, anywhere I can get my active boy to run around is high up on my list. When I first started my mission to get out of the house more, I created a list of local parks and started visiting each one. Two of the key things I looked for when visiting parks (here where I live in sunny southern California) were 1) shaded parking, especially in summer months so that the carseat wouldn’t get too hot when it was time to go home, and 2) plenty of shade to rest, change diapers and eat. Parks may or may not be your thing, but this tip is mainly to figure out what go-to spot(s) work for you and your little one.
Plan and Prep—I like to plan and prep the night before an outing when my son is asleep. My prep involves assembling healthy snacks, packing my backpack with a fresh stash of diapers, wipes, change of clothes, easy eats (see tip #4), and loading the car the night before with my backpack, a few toys and a blanket. If it’s a chaotic morning, I can find peace in knowing everything is prepped and ready to go. If it’s a smooth morning, well then I can relish in that rarity and enjoy more coffee...can I get an AMEN?
Invite Friends—You don’t have to venture out alone. Invite close friends (with and without kids), reach out to an acquaintance, or seek out a new friend! Outings with others is a wonderful way to build community, maintain or create friendships and teach your little one to socialize with new and familiar faces. Even when a conversation takes twice as long due to little ones needing attention, it’s worth the adult interaction. Plus, when you invite friends on an outing, you are more likely to stick to your plan on leaving the house—even if you are a bit (or a lot) late.
Easy Eats—Keep eating-on-the-go simple. I usually bring an array of dry snacks and finger foods in a small insulated lunch bag. Don’t forget to pack some snacks for yourself! Bringing easy eats is not only convenient, but it’s a great money saver. However, if you choose to eat out, remember to order food you can eat with one hand.
Bring the Bubbles—In my experience, bubbles are magic to babies and toddlers. I found this to be my secret weapon when my son was on the verge of a meltdown. Bring out the bubbles, and voila—a happy baby.
Bonus Tip: If the day doesn’t go as planned, if he or she won’t stop crying, if an unforeseeable problem arises, simply go home. Going home early does not equate to a failed outing—you successfully stepped out. That’s a mom win right there! And, it’s important to remember, there’s always another day.