Running errands with kids in tow. Not my idea of a good time. Someone should have told me the five ways to make traveling with kids easier when my twins were born. It would have been nice to know.
When I had just one child, I thought shopping was hard. Seriously.
You have to haul the baby and all that junk with you. You have to plan nursing/bottles and diaper changes. You have to bring along baby food and bibs and baby spoons. Restaurants don’t provide that stuff.
You have to lug around that huge car seat and diaper bag.
Or worse. You have to wake a sleeping baby because he’s too big for the carrier, and you can’t leave him in the car.
Gone are the days of quickly darting in and out of stores.
And then I had twins.
And believe me, I had no idea what hard was.
Hard is carrying two car seat carriers in to a store while holding a toddler’s hand.
Hard is finding room in a cart for groceries – a cart that already has two infant car seat carriers and one small toddler in it.
Hard is balancing a bottle while pushing a cart and answering a million “Mommy why….”s.
Hard is pushing one cart and pulling another while feeding a baby a bottle (because you long ago gave up trying to fit it all in to one cart).
Hard is just getting out the door to embark on this epic journey.
Hard is making sure you don’t forget clean underwear for the potty-training toddler.
Hard is leaving all of your groceries on the conveyer built because said toddler just peed in the aisle.
Hard is doing all of this with crying babies.
Hard is when you learn that it is better to just let the baby cry and drive already.
And Hard is when you bite your tongue so that you don’t deck the 100th person to tell you that “you really have your hands full“.
That is hard.
So let’s make running those errands a little easier on you!
Five Ways to Make Traveling With Kids Easier
1. Prep your departure the night before.
Seriously. I know this is hard. You are tired. It’s been a long day. You just want to collapse in to bed. But the best thing you can do is to prepare everything you need for tomorrow’s grand adventure tonight. And put it all by the door. Or in the car. Or both. For help on what to pack, check out the Making Mommas What to Pack Check List.
2. Plan your arrival and departure time by working backwards.
Do you have to be at the clinic at 10:00? It’s a 20 minute drive, so you leave at 9:40, right? Wrong. Count backwards, like this:
10:00 – 15 minutes to get in the door and go potty = 9:45.
9:45 – 20 minutes travel time = 9:25.
9:25 – 10 minutes to get coats on and load in to the car = 9:15.
9:15 – 5 minutes last minute potty breaks = 9:10.
9:10 – 15 minutes last minute bottle/nursing & diaper change = 8:55
You need to be prepared to leave your house at 8:55 to make that 10:00 doctor appointment. You may or may not need that last minute feeding, but build it in, just in case. You may have to stop on the side of the road for a bottle or give a bottle at the clinic before the appointment, once you arrive.
Need a little help on getting out of the house? Check out Making Mommas Departure Guide.
3. Meet all of baby’s internal and external needs before leaving and upon arrival.
What does your baby need? Run through the check list before leaving: has he been fed? Changed? In appropriate clothing for the weather? Is he tired? Is he teething? Tummy troubles? Make sure you tend to all of his needs before leaving. Be sure he is comfortable in his car seat while traveling as well; he’s not too hot, not getting pinched by seat belts, the sun isn’t in his eyes, etc. Be preventive: try to think of everything that could make him unhappy during the drive and take care of it before hand.
For more tips, check out Making Mommas Travel Tricks Cheat Sheet.
4. Travel at the best time for your baby.
The car ride is no joy. Especially if you have a finicky traveler. I have one who cried as an infant – a lot – he just didn’t like being away from mommy. And I have one who cried – no, screamed – a lot – as a toddler. He just didn’t like being contained. I got around this by traveling at night. Granted, you can’t run errands at night, but if you re going on a long road trip, night might be your best option. The little tyke will sleep. If you are running errands, go at the best time for your child. Each child has his own energy rhythm. One might be happier or more content in the morning, while another may be full of pent up energy in the morning. You wouldn’t want to restrain an energetic child into a car seat. Traveling at nap time, or shortly before or after, might be a better fit. For me, I had to gin in the morning, because my kids turned in to monsters near nap time. We had to be home before the bewitching hour.
For more help with a crabby traveler, check out Making Momma’s What to Try When Baby Cries Cheat Sheet.
5. Take care of yourself.
I know, as a mom, this is hard. You are tired. You have a million things to do. You want to get them all done and get home again as quickly as possible. But make sure you get enough rest the night before. A crabby mommy makes for crabby kids. Make sure you eat before leaving, and bring along a snack as well. A hungry mommy makes for a crabby mommy (and a crabby mommy makes for crabby kids). Bring some water – you don’t need to be dehydrated. And whatever you do, make sure you use the facilities when nature calls. Holding it, and then carrying a small child on that full bladder, is just asking for an embarrassing clean up in isle six.
And remember to keep your patience. Running errands with small children is not easy. I don’t care if it is one child or six. It’s going to take longer. You will move slower. And you will come home completely exhausted and brain dead from your day’s adventures.
Meet it head on and embrace it – these days will be gone before you can ask where to find the Tylenol.
Keep Calm and Travel On!
Looking for more tips and tricks? Or are you planning a road trip this upcoming Holiday Season? Check out the Making Mommas Guide to Traveling With Kids: How to Arrive At Your Destination On Time and In One Piece! This travel guide comes complete with six printables to help you prepare for a smooth journey! Get more tips on how to manage bed time routines while away from home, how to entertain baby while driving and what makes for clean snacks to pack.
And best of all? It’s completely free! So Download yours today!