Greetings! I write to you from the blissful trenches of life with a baby and a toddler. Things are different this time around, and the adjustment has been a bit slower in coming than the first time. There are so many wonderful books and resources out there on how to prepare, adjust, and navigate life with littles (including Erin’s, of course!).
Today, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to share with you. Things that are probably too silly to land in the pages of such respected books, but that – quirky though they are—may prove useful one day as you’re juggling your kiddos in blessed chaos.
And please, chime in with your own off-the-wall aids that you’ve discovered on your journey!
Out and About
(1) Keep a few things in the car to help with smooth outings and the unexpected:
- A container of wipes that lives there. Useful for the obvious and so much more.
- A snap-and-go or umbrella stroller, if you have room in your trunk. Just let it live there, so that when your arms are falling off you can fly to your trunk and pull out the gloriously-wheeled contraption.
- A spare baby carrier (such as an ergo, mobywrap, etc.) I use one at home often, and have borrowed another to keep in the car. Too many times I’d forgotten mine at home when I needed it most for errands. Borrowing a spare from someone who’s not using theirs has been a lifeline.
- A spare outfit for your baby, and maybe a spare shirt for you if your little one is prone to spitting up. This will free up some room in your diaper bag. Just remember to change that outfit out as he/she transitions up to the next size.
- Snacks. Sometimes I’ll buy a giant carton of Godlfish and empty them into a big ziplok, other times I’ll empty a box of granola bars into our center console—as long as there’s something on hand for you and the older kids to munch on when your timeline is thrown for a loop.
- A few children’s books. Road construction, blown tires, whatever the unexpected may be, it’s nice to have something on hand to let them look at or read to them.
(2) At the grocery store, park by cart receptacle . Forget about finding the parking spot closest to the door and instead find the spot closest to the cart receptacle. You can grab a cart right then and load your kids into it, and it also makes unloading easier if you can put your children in the car seats first, then unload the cart, then have the cart receptacle right there for cart-returning purposes without ever having to leave your car’s side.
(3) Dry shampoo and hats. You think it won’t happen to you—and maybe it won’t. But just in case there are those days where you simply can’t get to your hair and a ponytail isn’t even cutting it, reach for a hat or the dry shampoo and see what can be done in just one minute’s time! You can even make your own dry shampoo.
(1) Foaming dish soap. Invest in a bottle of foaming dish soap (the kind that foams directly from the pump) or a foaming soap dispenser you can use. Makes for quick and easy cleaning of pacifiers, bottles (if you use them), etc.. You can also re-fill the dispenser with just a squirt of regular dish soap, filling the rest of the bottle with water and mixing—very inexpensive, and stretches the life of your dish soap.
(2) Neck Pillow. Be careful with this one—it’s nice to have around for those middle-of-the-night feedings to rest your head on in the rocking chair, but it might be too tempting to drift off, yourself. J
(3) Consider Freezer *elements*, not just Freezer *meals*. Freezer meals are wonderful. However, simple elements of meals for the freezer shouldn’t be overlooked. Our first time around, I spent lots of time making freezer casseroles. They were fine to a certain extent, but this time around I’ve done simpler freezer cooking—a big crockpot full of refried beans, frozen in single-serving sizes, freezer rolls to pull out and bake, cookie dough balls, and pre-marinated chicken breasts (just buy a big bag of frozen chicken breasts, then divvy them up while frozen into smaller freezer bags with enough to feed your family for a meal, add a few spoonfuls of homemade chicken marinade. Freeze. When it comes time to cook, defrost it in the bag and it’ll marinate wonderfully during the defrosting process. You could do the same with beef marinades.) I’m liking the flexibility of the *elements* a little better than the freezer full of repeat casseroles that I did last time.
Last of all, savor it. In the wacky moments and the precious ones, tuck those memories away in your heart. Pray over your little ones, treasure them, and laugh at the crazy days if you can. What a joy it is to be entrusted with these lives.
So, now it’s your turn! What “off-the-wall” tips to you have to share with us? I’d love to learn from your experiences.
Amanda Dykes is a historical romance author who aches to share God’s grace. She’s a spastic shutterbug, unabashed word nerd, and lover of truthful writing that resonates. She can be found scribbling words at her blog, and would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter (@AJDykes), or the online Christian Fiction Book Club she co-hosts.