Two of my close friends recently welcomed adorable baby boys into the world and became first time moms. Talking to them has brought back memories of sleepless nights, marathon breastfeeding and feelings of overwhelming love mixed with undertones of “what the F do I do with you.” I remember how leaving the house for 15 minutes seemed to take 15 hours of preparation. I remember toting a diaper bag so full it weighed more than the baby and the car seat combined – God forbid I not have something I’m not sure I’ll even need, cause I don’t even know what I need, so I’ll just pack everything anyone ever told me I might need. Almost two years later I’ve traded in my Petunia Pickle bottom for this chic Free People vegan tote with a convenient cross body strap. I’ve streamlined my bag overflowing with gear to a sippy cup, pack of raisins, stickers, one diaper, a couple wipes and a disposable changing pad. Sometimes I don’t bring anything baby/toddler related at all and think “eh, I’ll make it work and hope for the best”. I can get Avery and I dressed and out the door in less than 20 minutes with military like precision. But oh…those early days…how insurmountable it seemed. So I thought I’d reflect back and come up with a list of those essentials – the things I REALLY needed to be an on-the-go mama. This one’s for you Jamie and Lauren…Pack up your things and get out of the house! Every time you do, I promise it gets easier and you get a little saner.
My on-the-go mama must haves:
- Boobs. The good news is – they are attached. No packing necessary. Although, you do need to consider wardrobe (aka easy access). A nursing tank under anything will suffice. I honestly thought most of the nursing bras were hideous so I pretty much lived in Free People bralettes and Target sports bras that I could pull down. *If you don’t breastfeed, I’m assuming you need bottles and stuff – I wouldn’t know cause my little bugger never drank out of a bottle. EVER. Like, not once. He refused. And Yes, it was miserable.
- Aden & Anais Blankets. I never left the house without one or two. These brilliant inventions are a jack of many trades. Blanket. Nursing Cover. Stroller cover for sun/wind/sleep and to keep creepy strangers from touching your baby. Swaddle. Burp cloth. It’s pretty much anything you need it to be. I even turned it into a scarf after an unfortunate spit up incident.
- Diapers and wipes. I always went with 3 diapers, one full travel case of wipes. Also wise to keep a car stash just in case.
- Carrier. I loved my Maya wrap when Avery was itty bitty and then when he grew into it, the Ergo (*the ergo infant insert is completely unnecessary – just use a small blanket rolled up inside)
- A clean onesie. You will be tempted to put an entire outfit in there. YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS. This is your in case of an emergency, I don’t want people to look at me weird for having a naked baby in public outfit. A clean white onesie will suffice. I suggest you keep a full change of clothes, extra sweater, socks, etc. in the car. That way if you need to change your little one you will always have a onesie on you, and then you just have to pop to your car to get the rest, but even if it’s cold a onesie and an aden and anais blanket will suffice until you can get the rest.
And that concludes my list. And in case you were wondering – things you don’t need but will convince yourself you do…
- Teethers – that’s what fingers are for.
- Toys – that’s what your keys, plastic spoons, to go cups, napkins, etc. are for. Trust me, set expectations low. If you start out always having super entertaining stuff, you will always have to have super entertaining stuff…you will regret that. At 22 months, Avery still thinks plastic cups, straws and the sleeves you put on your coffee cup are the bees knees. PS it’s always a great idea to “borrow” toys wherever you are doing your errands.
Things you should keep in your car and/or stroller stash:
- Extra diapers and wipes. That way if you run out of your smaller diaper bag stash you are still covered without loading up your diaper bag with a lifetime supply – Micah is notorious for thinking a minimum of 10 diapers and a full unopened 72 count pack of wipes is appropriate for a morning outing to the Farmer’s Market (don’t be that guy).
- Extra clothes for the little one. The car/stroller is where you should keep a full outfit, warm and cold weather options, extra socks, etc. – have them handy, but not weighing you down.
- Extra shirt for you. This hopefully will never be needed. But, I can speak from experience when I say – It’s better to have an extra shirt in your car/stroller that you never ever wear than it is to spend a full day with spit up, poo or pee covering your body. Because even if your little one NEVER spits up, NEVER has a blow out diaper and NEVER gets anything on your clothing (which is insanely unlikely), they WILL undoubtedly decide to experiment with regurgitation or olympic level elimination on the ONE day you decide to shower, get dressed in something really nice (probably dry clean only) and make plans to spend time with real full-grown adults at a real (i.e. not crawling with children) venue. You will in that moment greatly regret not having a car stash of extra clothes for yourself.
- A couple of toys/teethers. Be cautious with this – your car can very quickly become a graveyard of lost toys with various balls, animals, books and other fun things strewn about. Choose wisely, rotate often and establish a firm you chuck it you lose it rule. Don’t be that mom that dislocates her shoulder trying to reach around behind your seat while at a red light trying to get the damn giraffe for the 50th time on your way to Target.
- A magazine or a good book. This is for your mental sanity. I found early on, especially while I was getting comfortable with the logistics of breastfeeding and the lack of modesty it requires, that the car was the best on-the-go nursing room. Having a magazine or a good book in there makes it far more enjoyable when you have to sit in your car for 45 minutes while feeding/burping your little one. This also can be used when your little one falls asleep in the car seat and you don’t want to move them quite yet so you spend hours prisoner in your car.
To Jamie, Lauren and all the other new mamas that want to be more “on-the-go” than “stay-at-home”…I know it’s overwhelming and stressful and hard and sometimes scary to leave the house with your little one. I know you will always feel like you will need to bring more things that you will ever use. I know you will destroy your back toting around the world’s largest diaper bag…but you don’t need to. The good news is – if you ever forget something you TRULY need, you will be just fine. You will make it work. You can always run to the grocery store, target, etc. Besides, not always having what you need will keep you on your toes, force you to be creative and help you out later when you need to Macguyver your way out of an I forgot-the-sippy cup and brought no entertainment for a full day out situation.
Pack a lot, pack a little, pack nothing at all…but DO leave your house, go out, make plans, do things! Even if it’s just going on a stroller walk, running errands, sitting at the park, going to a breastfeeding class or shopping at the mall. The more you get out and do things with your baby, the easier it gets.