Silver Lining: leaving the house with young children: 5 ways to help it go smoothly and avoid meltdowns

May 8, 2017

leaving the house with young children: 5 ways to help it go smoothly and avoid meltdowns




One of the biggest comments I get when I leave the house with my toddler and the twins is, "I can't believe you're out and about with all three kids and no helpers!" First of all, it's so nice of people to focus on the fact that I came and graciously ignore the fact that I'm a hot mess or my babies are only wearing onesies or I definitely did not do my toddler's hair that morning.

Because here's the thing. For my sanity, I need to leave the house daily. I just do. Motherhood can be very isolating, and working from home can be very isolating, so I make a conscious effort to get out every day. I think it's good for the whole family when we get out, expand our world, talk to new people, have a change of scenery, and experience things besides our daily at-home grind of diapers and begging mom for more screen time.

Plus, at this stage of life when my children are so little, we don't have school, sports or other activities that facilitate a get-outside routine, so it's up to me to provide that structure.

But the reality is that leaving the house is often the hardest part of the day. Between packing diaper bags, changing diapers, hunting down shoes, buckling carseats, and then trying to keep everyone happy when you're out, it can feel much easier to just stay home.

Here are some things I've been doing over the past nine months (since the twins were born) that make leaving the house easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

1. SET BEHAVIOR EXPECTATIONS

This is probably the biggest thing I learned as a teacher that translates to being a mom. No matter where we're going, I set behavior expectations with my toddler. Simply put, we have a conversation about what will happen and how she's expected to behave. Even if we're just going to the grocery store, I tell her we're not buying any special snacks, and she can choose to sit in the front or the back of the cart, but she's not going to push the cart today.

When I forget to do this, there is a 100% chance of a meltdown when my daughter wants to push the cart "all by self" and inevitably straight into the flower display. Every. Single. Time. A twenty-second positive and clear chat about behavior expectations goes such a long way in avoiding meltdowns.

2. GET INTO A DAILY SCHEDULE

We have a rough schedule, and stick to it every day, and it's helped our sanity so much. That means last month when there was a blogger opportunity at 10 am just down the street from me, I said no, but it was easy to say no because I knew it was right in the middle of naptime and trying to wrangle two fussy twins who should be sleeping is not on my happy list. But when they went to lunch afterwards at 11:30, it was easy to say yes, because everyone is up and happy at 11:30.

Some moms are great at having no schedule, but for me, a schedule has helped us add structure and routine to our day, and also plan good times to leave the house when there's the highest chance all three kids will be happy.

3. ANTICIPATE NEEDS

There's a reason diaper bags are a thing (and hallelujah that diaper bags are actually cute these days). When I anticipate what the kids might need while we're out and pack it in the diaper bag, I can stay out longer because a dirty diaper or a chilly baby can be solved by a quick diaper change or pulling on a jacket. Take the few minutes required to pack an extra bottle, a favorite teething toy, and whatever else you need to keep your kids happy.

When I'm prepared and packed, little hiccups don't turn into big disasters. I can quickly find the pacifier or fish out the burp cloth without derailing the entire trip (and having to listen to a screaming child the entire way home).

4. PRETEND YOU NEED TO GET THERE 10 MINUTES EARLY

Please tell me I'm not the only one constantly surprised at how long it takes to leave the house with more than one child? I honestly tell myself it starts ten minutes early, because then when my toddler has to go potty again when we're getting in the car, or when a twin spits up everywhere and requires a quick outfit change, I can take a few minutes and still be on time (or at least not terribly late).

5. BRING SNACKS

We don't have many snacks at home, but when we're out, snacks are a huge sanity saver. I like to pull one out when my toddler is hungry, fussy for weird reasons like her left shoes itches (not her foot but her actual shoe??), or wants to go home a few minutes before it's time. We stock up on these Gerber® SmartFlow pouches and have at least one in the diaper bag at all times (my 10-month twins love these so much).

Gerber recently redesigned their pouches with a SmartFlow cap that prevents dribbles and messes when your kids are feeding themselves (which is a genius move, by the way). It's the best, and makes snacks and meals so much easier and less messy. Click here to see the new SmartFlow logo so you know what to look for. There's even a coupon for your local Kroger or Ahold so you can stock up for a sweet price.




HONORABLE MENTION: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS

This one sounds weird, but honestly when I lower my expectations for going out with three small children, I end up much happier. I give myself a little pep talk about how the twins might be fussy and I'll have to push them around in the stroller instead of chatting with the other moms at playgroup. That way, when they're only fussy for 5 minutes at the very end, I'm feeling really good that they lasted an entire hour instead of feeling frustrated that they're fussy.

Photos by Kylie Pond

What tips and tricks do you have for leaving the house with small children?
I'm constantly trying to figure out ways to make it easier 
and more fun for all parties involved. :)
P.S. Click here for the coupon for those pouches if you don't have it already!

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