Wow, friends. It’s been far too long since I’ve found the time/energy to take to the keyboard that isn’t on my phone and compile thoughts that will serve you. This year has been continually busy with so many moving parts and children. We are getting closer to having another toddler in the house than having an infant, with only 2.5 more months until our youngest turns 1! The good news, all of this change and transition has given me plenty of time to gather a list of my favorite things to bring with us while we’re out and about.
There was a time when we first brought home our 3rd baby, where I was beyond terrified to load all of the kids into the car by myself, then have to take them out of the car + tote them all around whatever destination we needed to adventure to that day. The thought of being so outnumbered with my older two in such transitional ages and stages gave me hyper-anxiety. I know I did it in the beginning, and managed, but it was very rare and for very short periods of time. By the time D was about 5-6months old I found my groove in knowing what to bring without bringing too much for 3 kids, and what products made my life easier and would also last throughout growing and developing stages. This last part has been at the top of my priority list for all things for D as he is our last baby, and I did not want to buy new baby things/gear that would suddenly be unnecessary as he aged.
The first and best thing I did is to WRITE IT DOWN! I am completely guilty of bringing too much stuff to account for every situation. It isn’t a bad thing, and being prepared is important, but I would tote it everywhere with me instead of getting smart and leaving some of those items in the car. While bringing these things with you in your bag would be ideal, there’s likely nowhere you will be where you can’t step aside, walk to your car, and come back. Do not let the thought of brining allllll those kids back out to your car scare or annoy you. In my experience, the little shake up and change of scenery will reengage your kids when you go back to your destination. That being said, I urge you write your complete “wish list” for your diaper bag first and then divide into what will stay in your back and what you can keep in your car. I keep a small bin in the back of my car to house these items so I’m never without. Save your mind and your back!
Now, as far as the physical side of toting everyone in and out of places, we used a Chicco Keyfit carrier + caddy while D was unable to sit on his own. Mostly because, in the off chance he fell asleep while traveling in the car I could generally keep him asleep, and I’d take all the sleep could get from him! If went someplace with a cart, I would put the carrier in the basket of the cart, put my 2 year old in the seat of the cart and my 3 year old walked with me. My 2 year old is a RUNNER, so keeping him strapped in a stroller or cart is about the only way we can successful do any outing.
Now that D has been sitting up for a few months now (and not staying asleep once we arrive to a destination, queue all the tired tears!), we transitioned him to a convertible Chicco Nextfit Zip–rear facing of course–as well as began using our Summer Infant 3D Lite stroller (2 year old) + Lillebaby carrier (baby). This is the setup we use for quick trips into places that do not have a cart: farmers market, restaurant (If I’m by myself and don’t have my husband to help corral the running toddler), the gym, splash pad (to say that pains me…summer is already here in the desert!), the library, and I’m sure a few more I’m forgetting. If I’m really brave and decide to go to the zoo, a museum, or the mall I bring our Britax B-Agil Double Stroller with our Lascal Buggy Board. This is my absolute favorite setup because: no baby wearing. I do love baby wearing for quick trips, but for lengthy trips where I’m trying to manage a lot of moving parts (or kids, whatever) it’s truly not the most ideal for me. The boys ride in the stroller and my 3 year old rides on the buggy board or walks. It can be about 50/50 on whether or not she wants to ride, but for safety purposes she always rides while in the parking lot (or anywhere near vehicles) or really big crowds where I could lose her. I adore that this buggy board can attach to just about any stroller, including our 3D Lite if we chose.
As we’ve entered into this stage of being out and about more, I’ve also had to stay on point with potty training our 3 year old. It was a rocky start, but she’s completely day trained which means when we’re out I have to be ready for pit stops into the public restroom where FOUR of us can fit. Unless there is a family restroom, this is practically impossible. The only way this works is when I have the baby wearing + 3D Lite umbrella stroller combo. We can all fit in the handicap stall, and the boys are contained and not touching allthethings. You mamas know what I’m talking about! In these instances (in the past, and for emergencies mostly) i’ve built a nest of TP and scrubbed hands like crazy. This was NOT ideal. So a friend of mine told me about the Pottette Plus , and their liner refills.This has been an absolute lifesaver! My same friend introduced me to another, more portable option, that’s great to have for those quick trips: the PottyCover. These fit perfectly in my diaper bag, and are the best option when having to use a public restroom. However, I much prefer to use our Potette Plus potty in the back of my car. Way less germs, more flexibility and privacy for all!
I realize that this sounds overwhelming and like a lot of things to have on hand, but when you have 3 children that are ages 3 and under you have to be prepared while also being comfortable and not bombarded by EXTRA things. After 3 kids, I swear by these products as individuals, and the combos of these products in using them together as described above. It’s the only way I will travel with all 3 of my little hooligans by myself. However, in addition to these bigger items I also bring along the following:
- Sippy cup or water bottle for toddlers
- MIRA water bottle (or something similar) with water for myself. **ALWAYS REMEMBER TO TAKE CARE OF YOU TOO!**
- 2 bottles w/ nursery water + small formula dispenser with enough formula for 4 bottles (you can wash/rinse the bottles and use bottled water in a pinch! DO NOT pack 4 bottles…trust me!) **By baby #3, rinsing with hot water is sufficient. If you feel you must wash, there are travel-size liquid soap options at your disposal–generally not needed for normal daily outings.)
- Bottle strap– keep those bottles or sippy cups from falling on the floors, it’s gross. I generally only use this for the baby, but have often used them in my car when the kids have butterfingers and can’t seem to keep their cups off my floor. Remember: 3 kids = find sanity saving solutions! This is one of them
- Antibacterial wipes- buy the biggest one you can find and keep it in your car.
- 2 diapers for each child in diapers (3 if you’ll be gone for longer than 3 hours) + travel case of wipes (I love the Huggies Clutch and Clean) **Bring more diapers if your baby is newborn-3 months. They poop a lot!**
- Extra clothes for baby (in diaper bag) + extra clothes and a (big) towel for the toddlers and an extra shirt for me (in the car). As they get older, you can usually make it to the car before you need anything…usually.
- SNACKS!! If it’s a quick trip, bring something small/reasonable (goldfish + applesauce pouch, or something alike) but if you’re going to be gone for a while–say you’re going to the zoo–bring a large lunchbox/mini cooler and bring enough for “normal”, and then pack more! I don’t know what it is about being away from the house for longer than an hour, but my kids basically eat a second breakfast, snack and a whole lunch before we get home on zoo days. I carry something like this. And again: pack food for YOU too!
- Kids playlist – having a playlist of my kids favorite songs on my phone and at the ready is a huge necessity for when we’re in the car. I am a huge advocate for Kidz Bop music since they have a lot of the newer pop songs that are age appropriate, and they’ve really improved their production/sounds over the past several years! Throw in some of your favorite songs from the kids favorite movies (Frozen, Sing, and Moana are some of our favorites) and you’ve got yourself a pretty diverse and rockin’ playlist!
Lastly, always keep this on hand: if you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re trying to go and do and it’s just not working….LEAVE. Go home and put yourself in a place where you’re more mentally prepared to deal with whatever your day/kids are throwing at you. Literally and figuratively LOL. Mostly, I don’t do parks, or meet up with people when I’m out alone (I save big play dates for the weekends when I have help) because it’s too hard to try and chat it up with the moms I’m out with and watch/tend to all the kids at the same time. Trust your gut, and do not feel bad for feeling like you want to do these things alone instead of WITH someone.
You got this 😉