Living out in the sticks has its disadvantages. For example, cell phone service (we switched to a wifi-call and text provider which helped) is spotty. We also had to have a line constructed for internet service (my husband’s online school requires it, obviously). Then there are days like today where I have to venture out of my nice little homestead pocket to the “outside world” for things like vehicular maintenance and doctor visits. The following are my recommendations for off homestead errand days with children.
- Plan ahead- if you don’t have the ability to walk 300 yards to the Walgreen’s next door (a convenience I admit I sometimes miss) every time you realize you’re out of milk, you need to take the time to prepare ahead of time to avoid “emergency” situations. For me, that means doing a 2 week meal plan and grocery list. Gauge what your family eats in a span of time (for us it’s a biweekly pay period) and shop accordingly, always keeping a stock closet of necessities like toilet paper, diapers, feminine hygiene, soaps, detergents, non-perishable items. I buy non-perishables and cleaning ingredients (laundry ingredients, baking soda, vinegar, etc.) on sale with coupons whenever I see my preferred brands on sale, that way I know I always have some on hand should a need arise (company that forgot a toothbrush, dog eats my deodorant, toddler draws on the walls with lip balm, etc.) Walking to the hall closet is a lot easier than orchestrating transportation with one car and two kids for a handful of items.
- Pack the Essentials- the reality of two kids under two is a loud, sticky, slow, inconvenient, but adorable mess. To keep my munchkins agreeable, I make sure I have plenty snacks packed- fruit puree pouches are great and travel well (make sure you check expiration dates!) And do wonders to keep my toddler contented. Other snack ideas that work for us include individual Tupperware containers of cashews, raisins, dry cereal, Cliff bars, Lärabars, and an insulated stainless steel water bottle filled with our “Good water” (I’ve found I’ve become a water snob since we got our Berkey filter a year ago). Of course, diapers, wipes, extra set of clothes, and a fun item (book, action figure, coloring book/crayons, etc.) are also on my list of necessities. Reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear 40 times is preferable to a public meltdown… Except maybe for the old guy sitting next to us in the lobby of the car dealership. Sorry, my son doesn’t grasp personal space or volume control.
- Plan for Entertainment-I’ve also found that with my kids having to sit in the car for 2 hours round trip, audiobooks are really beneficial. Not only do we enjoy the vocal stylings of Jim Dale as he reads us Harry Potter novels, but it keeps me from being annoyed by the same songs on a loop on KLOVE, NPR, or anything like that. I’m also told by my linguistics major sister-in-law that the best method of language development for children is for them to listen to books, and audio books count! Hooray! 2 birds. Adding in trips to the park also help to break up the monotony of errands through the day and lets the kids burn off steam.
- Schedule Tightly- I have found that for me to have maximum efficiency, I have to pack my schedule full and keep things moving to ensure my kiddos (and I) don’t burn out and end up saying, “Forget it- I’m done!” For example, I had my daughter scheduled for a well visit at her pediatrician today but I got a call yesterday saying my Ped. had to reschedule for personal reasons. Instead of moving the appointment and throwing off the rest of my planned outing, I took her to the health department instead. I didn’t need a referral or appointment, and I was in and out in about an hour (including shots, nursing session, and potty break, and a cranky toddler who was not convinced he wasn’t also getting shots.) Here’s how our day played out:
- 10:00- doctor
- 11:00- Chick-fil-A for lunch
- 12:15- Thrift store for pants (the most upsetting aspect of today… Buying bigger jeans…)
- 1:30- Oil change/tire rotation
- 4:00- groceries
- 7:30- pick up Dada from work
For the most part, everything went very smoothly. We were able to come home and unload and relax a bit before heading back out to get my husband from work. The grocery trip wasn’t all out, but of the 3 stores scheduled for my groceries this month, I can say I got everything I needed from Aldi. So, mission accomplished. Of course, I’m not perfect, and neither are my kids so preparation and management are key to ensuring they get glad in the same pants they got mad in…unless the original pants are splattered with pear sauce… Then I get my son clean pants.