If you missed the Blog Swap last week over at Life Your Way, here is my posted that was featured at Practically Parenting.
Long before I had children of my own children, I worked with many new moms as a fitness instructor. I taught a postnatal fitness class that began at 11am, the new moms often straggled in, but one day a mom scurried in 35 minutes late and exclaimed,
“Before kids, if I wanted to go to the gym at 11am, I’d start getting ready at 10:40- put on my workout clothes, grab my keys and out the door. Today, the baby and I started getting ready for class at 8:30am….and we are still late!!”
I guess I knew, even then, how hard it was to get out of the house with children, especially babies. But now I have kids of my own and I really, truly understand the strange phenomena that is kids waking up at 6:30 am and barely being able to get them out of the house before we have to be back.
I find we all do better if we get out of the house each day. The park, library story time, the children’s museum or just a walk to the local drug store. We all are happier if we get dressed and out of the house (despite my 3.5 year-olds pleas to stay in his pjs). With both kids on slightly different sleep and eating schedules, our window of time to get out is pretty slim.
This is where a good plan comes into place. Here are my tips for getting out the door with kids.
- Start with a List- Brain storm a list of WHAT activities you can do ahead of time. Sometimes the hardest part of getting out of the house is figuring out what you are going to do once you’re out. I like to keep a running list on my phone of kids activities and outing. Sit down one evening and brainstorm all the things you and your kids like to do, big and small. Check local websites and blogs for ideas. When a friend mentions something fun they did with their kids, add it to your list. A friend just mentioned that a local pizza place has some great “gumball” machine (the kind with the little toys in them). I was able to run a few errands in our downtown area, and for four quarters, my son got a few new treasures that kept him busy all afternoon! (we didn’t even eat there!)
- Plan The Night Before- Spend a little time in the evening thinking about what you are going to do the next day. Is it a longer activity where lunches need to be packed? Is there special gear you need, like an outing to the pool? This helps with the rest of the planning.
- Double Check the Hours. Or better yet, keep that info on your running list above. I hate to get the kids all packed up only to pull into the empty parking lot of the library that is closed on Fridays!
- Check the Weather. I have a weather app on my phone that seems to be pretty accurate, I like to check it if our outing is weather dependent.
- Keep Your Bag Packed- Keep your diaper bag or going-out bag well stocked with the basics, so you don’t have to pack the whole thing every morning. If you already have diapers, wipes, sunblock, change of clothes, etc. Then you just have to add snacks or lunch in the morning and you’re out the door!
- Keep Activity Bags Packed- Keep bags for other specific activities pre-packed too. If you are anything like me, you do not lack for tote bags. I have started keeping all our library books in a canvas tote bag, right by my son’s bed. We read the books and put them right back in the bag at night. When its time to return them, they are all (theoretically) there and ready to go! I’ve heard of people keeping library books on a special spot on the shelf or in a special basket, but the tote bag cuts out the middleman!
Same thing for the pool bag- I keep another tote bag packed with towels, swim diapers, pool toys, sun block, swim cover up and hats, so we are practically ready to go if the weather proves warm enough!
- Keep easy lunch items on hand. I try to feed my kids well-rounded meals without a lot of packaging when we are home, but I also keep a stock of easy to grab-and-go items when we are in a hurry; Yogurt tubes, apple sauce pouches, cheese sticks, bananas are quick options that can get us out of the house faster than prepping and cleaning up a full scale lunch making station.
- Lay out clothes the night before. My son is nearly 4 and we get into a debate almost every morning over which t-shirt he wants to wear. I find if we have him pick out his own clothes the night before, he’s more willing to put those on.
- Be able to go with the flow. Even the best-laid plans don’t always happen. Kids don’t care what you do, they just want to spend time with you and have an adventure. Some days you aren’t going to get out of the house fast enough to make it to story time, but a walk around your block to see if the Duck family is in the creek by your house will still be a great adventure! And you don’t have to even get the kids out of their pajamas for that one!