The Holidays are always bustling with excitement and extra busyness. Visiting family, shopping, special events, traveling, looking at Christmas lights, trips to the doctor during flu season, you name it. We are on the go with babies a lot during the Holiday seasons! Traveling in the car with a newborn and toddler makes it tricky getting anywhere on time but there are a few tips I've been practicing that might help you better manage your coming and going with little ones this Holiday season.
I'm so thankful that Little Miss is generally a content little baby who is happy to go along for the ride. She certainly seems to do better in the car than her brother did as a baby. However even with the happiest of babies it can take a while to get out the door and interruptions or delays in your plans will still happen. Here's a few things I've learned through trial and error that help make being out and about with little ones go a little more smoothly.
1. Make sure your expectations are realistic and be flexible! This is so important when going anywhere with your little ones. If you are stressed about making sure X, Y AND Z all happen exactly as you have planned your kids will pick up on this stress and no one is going to enjoy themselves. With little ones you can expect that there are going to be delays and interruptions. Also they can't handle as much as adults or even older children can. They get over stimulated easily. It's okay. Pay attention to their needs and be willing to forego or change up a plan if it's just too much.
2. Start early! Set yourself up for success by preparing for your outing the night before or first thing in the morning if your activity is later in the day. When it's time to go, always allow more time than you think you'll actually need to get ready to allow for the unexpected delays. I always save diaper changes for the very last thing before walking out the door since diaper blow since my children seem to enjoy surprising me with last minute diaper blow outs.
3. Keep spare items in the car. This way you don't need to pack EVERYTHING every time you go out. To keep things neat and easy to find I put together a little "baby essentials car kit" and store everything together in a little wire mesh basket. You could use a plastic bin with a lid, a tote bag, whatever suits your style. I also keep my favorite buckle baby carrier in the car since I use it most when I'm out and about! Here's a list of what I keep in my Baby Essentials Car Kit for emergency in case you'd like to put one together for yourself!
*Note: I also have a separate First Aid Kit I keep under the seat, always a good thing to keep on hand in your vehicle!
Another item I always have with me these days is my LullaBelay. To me this is a must-have for shopping with an infant and toddler! The LullaBelay by Fiddles Diddles allows you to safely carry your infant car seat attached to your shopping cart. This keeps the basket free to fill with groceries and goodie while your older child rides in the toddler seat of the cart. There's a protective cover that goes over the car seat to protect baby from anything that might fall from above and a handy draw string storage bag for when it's not in use. I find it very easy to use and it makes my shopping trips with two little go a little more smoothly. Learn more about how the Lullabelay works at their website fiddlediddles.com and see our full review of the Lullabelay Shopping Cart Strap.
4. Minimize mess. Kids are messy, you may not be able to avoid it but doing what you can to keep messes down will save you time and energy (and your sanity) while you are on the go with babies. Make it a rule to do a quick clean out of your car every time you arrive home to avoid build up of trash and clutter. Use car seat protective inserts to catch and mess from spit up or diaper blow outs. Keep a plastic grocery bag in your car to stash trash as you go so it's easily tossed when you reach your destination. If you're going to be snacking in the car try to pick snacks like squeezable food pouches, dried fruit, Cheerios, etc. that won't be super crumbly or require utensils. I also don't like to allow dairy foods in the car in case of spills I don't notice since dairy can go sour and start to smell bad quickly!
I also love using this Catchie Concepts 3-in-1 Car Seat Protector to keep our little car clean. It not only protects the seat underneath the car seat but also it keeps the floor of my car clean too. And I've been surprised just how much cleaner the floor under my son's feet has been actually. Since the Catchie is made of a durable and easy to wipe clean material, cleaning the off dirt and crumbs is a breeze. It also serves to catch anything thrown by my toddler making it easier for me to retrieve his books or water bottles, pacifiers etc. from the front seat while we travel. The Catchie Car Seat Protector makes it simple to keep our car clean and organized. To find out more or to purchase one for your car visit catchieconcepts.com
Also, find yourself a good sippy cup! I felt like finding a good no-spill sippy cup that travels well and doesn't leak everywhere was quite a challenge. After trying a plethora of cups have to say our favorite "sippy cups" are ThinkBaby sippy and straw bottles! We use both the Thinkster of Steel Bottle and the regular Sippy Cup from ThinkBaby. Our favorite from ThinkBaby is the stainless steel straw bottle. It's a great for my toddler's on-the-go drinks. It doesn't leak and the stainless steel is durable when dropped in the parking lot or tossed around while traveling. One bottles can be used with all their different tops, from an infant bottle nipple, to sippy cup to straw bottle. These bottles really do grow with your babies and we love that they have proved to be no-spill drinking cups during our car rides. Learn more about ThinkBaby products which are free from BPA and other harmful materials, visit gothinkbaby.com
5. Bring distractions. Especially if you're going to be out and about for longer periods of time or stuck in the car for a long road trip, having some emergency "distractions" on hand can help when your little ones have just had it for the day! Things like snack pouches, busy books, a toy with lights, musical tunes or a new audio book or children's music can help calm fussiness and keep you sane till you get home. I know some people love their portable DVD players too, we don't own one but this would be great to borrow for long road trips! The Baby Einstein Travel Tunes Musical Box has worked well for both my babies as infants when they would get screaming mad in the car. For some reason the bright lights and soothing music worked to calm them down enough till we could stop and feed them.
6. Remind yourself to slow down and enjoy the moments. Instead of rushing through your Holiday errands and activities, be purposeful about truly enjoying even the small moments with your kids. Your kids won't necessarily remember every special Holiday event you've taken them to and they won't care if the Christmas party isn't Pintrest perfect. What they will remember is that mom always made time to care for them. Invest in your little ones lives, savor the small and even frustrating moments. Your babies are changing and growing so quickly and you'll never get this time back. When plans are thrown off by a misbehaving toddler instead of being resentful take the time to work with that little person entrusted to your care by helping them learn what is right and empathizing with their frustrations. Kids will remember how you cared for them, not how fast and efficiently you checked off your to-do list!
In all the coming and going this season we are sure loving experiencing the thrill of the holidays "through the eyes of a child" this year. It's his 3rd Christmas but really this is the first time our son is old enough to really understand and enjoy different holiday events and the anticipation of Christmas. He was mesmerized by the Christmas light display at the "Lights at the Zoo" event and the 20 degree chill didn't bother him a bit! At our local "Festival of Trees" event he just couldn't stand still with all the sparkle and excitement of everything to see. He especially loved chasing the choo-choo train around the building. We had a fun time as a family, but I guess this is as good as it gets for a "family photo" these days with our squirmy toddler who is constantly on the go himself!
I do hope you are all able to enjoy this Holiday season with your little ones wherever you go! And whether it's a 5 minute drive to the grocery store or a 2 hour drive to Grandma's, I hope implementing some of these tips I've shared will help make your time on the go with babies little easier as you take advantage of this special time of the year!
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