5 Tips for Adventuring Out with a Baby

8:57:00 AM

Let's be honest, leaving the house with a baby is hard. It takes energy, time, coordination, and most of all patience. Since Corinne is my first baby, I didn't have any other kids begging for my time, or needing to go places. So we stayed inside a lot. It was the perfect storm of new motherhood. I was content to just sit all day and cuddle my baby, watching her sleep, but also watching lots of Netflix. I was overwhelmed about how busy a newborn could actually keep me (now I look at my 9 month old and laugh) and I was terrified of being out of the house for a feeding, or a diaper change, or a melt down (from her or me!). I was still healing, and even after everything is fine I still felt nervous about over doing it. And most of all, I knew that leaving and going out was hard. It was just hard enough that when I considered all the other reasons to stay home it was easy to justify it.

But eventually that starts to wear you down. After I got a clean bill of health and I had heard from so many different people about how beneficial it was for them to find a reason to leave the house I started putting in the effort. And everyone was right, it was totally worth it. Even on the hard days. Sometimes I still go through stretches where maybe I don't leave the house much for a week (let's be honest again, sometimes you don't have anything to do) and I can tell a difference in my mood. So now I usually try to at least go on a walk even if that's all we do that day.

During that time of forcing myself to practice getting out I picked up a few tricks that have made a huge difference. Most of them I still use today because it helps keep me in a rhythm and on track so we don't slip back into hermit mode.

1. Plan Ahead: There is nothing wrong with planning out your week, in fact making a plan always helps me accomplish more. For example, I know that Corinne is usually the happiest when she first wakes up in the morning, so if I have errands to run I try to do it then. If I have several large outings in one week I will try to schedule one each day during that golden time period. Gone are the power days where I would knock everything out in one awesomely productive day. With groceries, having a baby has made me a better meal planner. It helps to know I can go to the grocery store once a week and get everything I need. (It also helps those evenings go smoother when I know exactly what options we have for dinner and I'm not just staring into the pantry with no starting point.)

2. Prepare a Diaper Bag in Advance: This has to be one of my favorite tricks. Since Corinne is bottle fed, there is usually a dirty bottle that I need to pull out of the bag when we get home so it doesn't get forgotten and nasty. This lead me to start the process of always replacing the dirty one with a clean one. Then while I was at it I would replace a burp rag, or a diaper, maybe change out a toy, etc. Its so easy to get out the door when I know that the diaper bag has been ready to go since the last time we got home, especially if one of the unplanned trips happens. This means I also stay out of the diaper bag when I am home. It's not hard to take her to her room for a diaper change, or get out a new rag if she spits up. The diaper bag is for outings only.

3. Have a Backup Plan: Things don't always go as planned so having an "out" is key. Three to four times a week I try to go on a long walk with one of my friends and her baby. This has become part of our routine and Corinne is a rock star at it. Often if I there is something to do that day I will try to do those trips at the same time. This means I know how Corinne will be handling the day. If our walk goes bad, we will go home, regroup, nap, and try again in the afternoon. If she's doing great, we will make that quick stop at Target. Similarly, if I am meeting up with friends somewhere close we used to carpool. These days I love driving my own car so that I have the option to leave if we need without hijacking someone else's plans and making them leave too.

4. Start Small: It was several weeks before I felt like I could really take Corinne anywhere that would cause us to be gone a couple hours other than church. It was a few months before I felt confident enough to go do a full grocery trip without Brett (I'd do quick stuff, but not a real trip). Many of my friends and family told me to just try to get out of the house, so I made and effort. Most of the time we would just drive to the park, walk around or sit on a bench for 10-15 minutes, then head on home again. Even though it was a big hassle, it was practice. Now that she is so much older being out and busy all day, even taking a weekend away from home, is something I feel totally confident in doing.

Really, I started small. Corinne was about 10 days old here.
5. Leave the House: It sounds so easy, and trust me, I sometimes hate it when Brett tells me this because I know it can be hard. But just leave. Even if it is for something little or stupid, just do it. All the practice adds up, and you will never regret it. Its one of those things like exercising-you can always find an excuse not to, but if you make it happen, no matter how it goes, there is a small sense of accomplishment that comes along with it.

So there are my 5 tips for leaving the house. Sometimes things that seem so obvious are hard to actually figure out, so what else do you do to make these outings go smoothly? Any other tips and tricks?

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