As any parent knows, going out with a baby is like a military campaign. There’s planning, and packing, changing and checking and moving people in an orderly fashion just to get out the door.
Don’t think that the older the kid the easier it gets to head out for a nice afternoon meal. Nope. Not with a toddler. In fact, I actually don’t find there’s much difference in my getting out of the house tactics than when she was a baby (though poo-explosions and vomit are generally less frequent). I still have to pack a bag with strategic items, still get my shoes and coat on before I get her ready and still pencil in extra time in my schedule in case of time slippage (which is a frequent occurrence- sorry everyone I’m late for). So really, no difference.
The biggest change is really what I pack in my bag. And even then, with a non-toilet trained toddler, it’s pretty much the same.
So here are my top five things I bring in my bag whenever I go out with my toddler:
1. Wipes (and nappies but my fave is the wipes).
Not only are they necessary for nappy changes, but they have a million and one other uses. From wiping mucky hands to wiping tables and chairs to the less well known kid toy aspect. (The lady likes to wipe tables, spoons, cups and anything else she can get her hand on so it’s a great distractor. Not to mention the fact that she also uses wipes as dresses and aprons for her toys and cultlery. Again, a great way to keep her busy. I just have to make sure she doesn’t use the whole pack.)
2. Disposable bibs
Okay I’m a bit of a neat freak. I’m not a big fan of having dirty clothes so I, to this day – and she’s almost 3, use bibs. That means that when I go out, a bib is a top priority item (except when I forget it by accident and have to use the muslin I bring as a fall-back item). I could bring a bib from home, but really, who wants to hang out with a dirty bib? Who knows what muck will be on it and whether it smells. I find it’s much easier (though not ecologically better – not ashamed!) to use disposable bibs. They’re handy, easy to find in the shops and you don’t have to pack it away to clean later (listen, we’ve has a few pukes while out so I was SO happy to just dispose of the bib in those situations. And you really can’t forsee when it’s going to happen!)
3. Pens, paper, magazines and stickers
I don’t always bring all of these things, usually just a variety within. The best though is a Cbeebies or Peppa magazine. Not only are they great for their colouring pages and stickers but they also have some form of silly plastic toy that’s an added bonus for extra busy-ness. And if all else fails and I’ve forgotten it all, a napkin and a pen is just as good. If you don’t keep a pen in your bag I’m sure where ever you go will have one to hand.
4. iPhone or other video device
Before I had the lady I always tut-tutted the parents who plonked their kids in front of a screen when out. I though, surely they would be fine reading or colouring rather than screen time. But, being a parent I now understand that screen time is sometimes a necessity for a bit of peace at dinner. So, before heading out (whether out for lunch, dinner or holiday), we charge it, download her favourite shows from BBC iPlayer and set out. It has save us on innumerable occasions and I fully believe in screen time (as a last resort mind).
5. Extra clothes
I think people with toddlers that don’t bring extra clothes live life on a knife edge. Whenever I think we can stop regularly bring extra clothes with us something happens, whether a pukeathon or an abosolute soaker. And I’m convinced we’re not ready to take the plunge. So, they continue to be an important feature. (And something I shall be including with the extra set of clothes, but haven’t until the lady was sick all over herself the other day, is a large empty plastic bag to store gross clothes as needed).
Well that’s my top five items. They always have a place in my bag, no matter where we go and I can’t imagibe a day when I’m not lugging them around.
What are your top items when you go out? Are they the same or are they completely different?