On Parenting On The Fly

One thing I learned to do when Huck was very little was parent on the run. Things like, packing the perfect diaper bag without having too much bulk to carry, finding places to change a diaper when no changing table is available, nursing in quiet corners, and soothing irritable babies in crowded restaurants. I get restless at home easily and need to see the outside world daily, and sometimes that can be intimidating with a little little one (and even with the bigger little ones).

Here are some of the tips I learned that helped me feel confident parenting on the fly, whether that was at home, at school, or at play ;).

This photo was taken on a Saturday afternoon after Brandon and I had contracted such a bad case of cabin fever that we decided to take a long walk, even though it wasn’t even twenty degrees out. Huck was probably too young to appreciate the giant piano at FAO Schwarz, but we definitely enjoyed it! While we were out Huck had a major blow out, cried angrily for reasons I couldn’t quite decipher, and then needed to nurse. Twice. It felt like that day was the kind of day where your mom skills are really tested. I think that day I averaged an overall B+. Not bad! Some tips:

  • Pack an extra blanket and a pair of your baby’s pajamas. In my experience, bringing extra day’s worth of clothes in the event of a blow out is pretty pointless. Having the right combination of articles of clothing, plus ensuring they match, is difficult! Pajamas are cuddly, come in one piece, and are usually weather appropriate.
  • Pack an empty plastic baggie for stashing soiled clothing.
  • When they’re small, you can’t bring too many diapers. As they get older, I’ve found I’ve never needed more than one spare diaper on me at any given time. I always make sure I have a mostly-full pack of wipes. You can never have too many wipes.
  • Bring a small baby carrier that you can fold up and stash in your bag. I like wraps or slings best, since they can also be used as blankets or spit up rags if needed.
  • One toy should do it. One snack. One board book. You don’t need to bring their entire library. Often I’d pack a pacifier too, even though Huck didn’t take them, just because it could sometimes do the trick as a distracting toy in a pinch, and they don’t take up too much room.
  • Formula, if you need it.
  • A bottle of water. Even if you aren’t mixing formula, having some fresh water on hand will help with cleaning up messes, and the bottle can be something for baby to hold if he’s needing entertainment. Also helpful, of course, if you get thirsty. ;)
  • A snack for you. You know, low blood sugar is the enemy of the cool-headed parent.

And that’s it! In my experience, using the natural stimulation you’re surrounded by to distract a tantrum is more effective than any toy you could pack, buying food and snacks on the go is more fun than realizing the snack you brought is smashed and/or not appetizing for whatever reason, and being over-prepared just makes you feel bulky and weighed down, making spontaneous fun harder to come by.

What are your favorite things to bring when you Mom on the run? Do tell!

You can read more of Natalie's silly ideas at her blog, Nat The Fat Rat, and on Twitter.

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