This post is brought to you by GoGo squeeZ.
When I only had a couple kids, I was pretty good at staying active and going on outings. Once my brood grew to four, it became increasingly difficult to maintain a lifestyle that involved outings. Or leaving the house. Between the potential meltdowns, the inevitable diaper blow-outs, and the mind-bogging difficulty of shuttling four kids across a parking lot with only two free hands, I settled into a routine of staying home unless I absolutely had to go somewhere. Unfortunately, this isn’t a great habit for me or for the kids. When we’re at home, I’m much less likely to engage in playing with them, because it’s just too tempting to get started on the dishes in the sink or the overflowing inbox. I have a hard time getting out of task-mode at home. Not to mention, the kids tend to upend every drawer and bin when we stay home, which means there is a lot more to clean. And the kids? They have much more fun when we get out of the house. So this summer, I’m going to try my best to get us out to a park or the beach at least a few times a week.
While I can’t always predict and strategize for a perfect day out, there are a few common denominators that seem to contribute to a successful day out:
Having a well-stocked car. I try my best to always replenish the car stashes at night, because I tend to be forgetful in the midst of getting us dressed and out the door. Our car stash involves a bag of older swimsuits for each child, a spare outfit for each child, water bottles, sun block, sand toys, band-aids, and of course a diaper bag with wipes and diapers. Having these things at-the-ready always ready makes life much easier, especially for those rare moments of spontaneity.
Setting things out the night before. Getting out the door is always my biggest challenge, so the more I can do the night before, the better. If we’re planning a beach day, it helps if I’ve got each child’s suit and shoes laid out, along with a bag of spare clothes by the door. There have been so many intended outings that I’ve skipped out on come morning because I was overwhelmed by all I needed to do before we could leave. Taking some time the night before (especially while the kids are sleeping) makes more a more peaceful morning where I’m more likely to follow through with a grand idea.
Making sunblock a part of the routine. Two of my kids burn every easily, and Jafta’s eczema means I have to be diligent about applying sunblock. We’ve made this a part of our morning routine, and have the kids apply their own lotion (from a pump dispenser) before getting dressed. That means I just have to do a kick application on their face (and usually a touch-up for Karis) before we hit the road.
Leaving a clean house. This is a hard one, but I find it keeps my sanity. For us, an outing usually means a good bit of work after coming home. Going to the beach tends to commit me to having to bath the kids once we get home, and means I’ve got a bit of laundry to do, too. If I leave the house a mess, I usually feel immediately overwhelmed by all the clean-up I’ve got to do when we get home, and regretful that we went out in the first place. If I can take the steps above to prepare the night before, and clean then as well, then I can usually get us out the door quickly before we’ve made a disaster of the house. For me, my outlook is much better about going out if the house is in order when we leave.
Having easy lunch options. Feeding the kids while we’re out is always the biggest hurdle for me. If I could do an outing and somehow not have to feed them, I’d be set. Unfortunately it seems like my kids are always immediately starving as soon as we arrive at our destination. Having a pantry stocked with easy-to-pack lunch options makes things much easier for me to be mobile with the kids. I’m a fan of making up a batch of rice and beans the night before, which is easy to scoop into thermoses in the morning. I love GoGo squeeZ’s easy applesauce pouches– they are shelf-stable, sugar-free. and don’t require a spoon, so I tend to keep these on hand in the diaper bag as well. And check out their new packaging and Apple Mango flavor:
Baby carrots, bananas, and snap peas are easy, healthy options for a portable, healthy snack.
Assuming the worst. Having unrealistic expectations is a sure-fire path to disappointment. Realistically, my outings won’t look like something on Pinterest. There will probably be whining, and spilled food, and maybe even a leaking diaper. It’s unlikely that all four of my children will be in a state of bliss the whole time, and inevitably we will run into naptime and a tired, cranky child will melt down. If I can remember, and even expect, that this is a part of the process, instead of freaking out when the kids behave like kids, then I’m usually a much calmer mom.
What are your best tips for getting out of the house? What are your biggest barriers? Do you prefer to be out-and-about, or do you have a tendency to stick close to home?