Becoming a mother ignites an overwhelming sense of appreciation for things you once took for granted. Appreciation for even the simplest of things...like the good old days when you could walk through Target and leisurely pick up items on your weekly list (maybe even throw in a few spontaneous finds!). Now your weekly errands may feel a little less leisurely and leave you wishing now, more than ever that you had a Raquel in your life. (for all you who can stomach this season of The Bachelor, you got that...) Here are some survival techniques I implement to not only survive, but often times even THRIVE running errands with my TWO under TWO.
First things first--In my many ventures running errands with my two littles, the most important thing I have learned is that MY attitude is one of the greatest factors in whether or not things will go smoothly. A calm & happy mom makes all the difference in the world. Because sometimes, you can't control whether or not your toddler is going to have a good day or melt down into a little crazy person because you brought the square shaped crackers instead of the round ones. What you can control is YOU.
One of the first things I do on the morning of an errand running day (typically Mondays in our home) is center myself mentally and emotionally and take some time to meditate or do whatever I need to do to get myself feeling good. I get the boys set up with breakfast, toys, and a show, then go shut myself in my room to give myself the quiet time I need to be my best self.
ERRAND RUNNING MUST HAVES:
1. Itsy Ritzy cart cover. I've tried other brands. We SWEAR by Itsy Ritzy. The plushness, the pockets, the straps...it's everything a cart cover should be!
2. SNACKS. SNACKS. SNACKS. We can't live without THESE snack holders.
3. iPad + iPad holder. This iPad holder that we use in the car, also can be used to wrap onto cart. If you're using a double cart like the one's at Target I'll sometimes place the boys in the two front seats and hook the iPad to the front of the cart. Keeps them distracted and happy!
5. Solly Baby Wrap I love the Solly because not only is it super comfy for mom & babe--it's also very easy to pack!
6. Lavender Spray I spray the Solly wrap and cart cover (and sometimes the children's clothes) before and during errand running.
7. Balance and Wild Orange diffusing in car. I'm obsessed with this car diffuser.
+ Personal necessity: my Apple Watch. I got mine for Christmas from my hubby and I'm obsessed! I love being able to check my messages and take calls completely hands-free. It's one less thing I have to worry about when my hands are already SO full!
TIPS & TRICKS FOR A SMOOTH TRIP:
+Patience is key. In fact, for your sanity--it's essential! You won't be able to shop as quickly as you used to. Get over it. Sometimes, you'll have to change a diaper (or 2) mid shopping trip--other times you may be in the back of the store and realize baby is hungry, you're out of water for a bottle, and have to walk all the way to the front to get some...once you let go and accept this as your reality, and learn to love it--you will be a much happier mama+ shopper!
+ Have a list!! Or at least ideas of what you want/need to get in your mind. Never ever ever go in blind with two littles. All it leads to is spontaneous spending and inevitably another trip to the store because you forgot something important.
+ When you arrive to store, put the car in park and go grab the shopping cart. Leave the kids. Yes, I said it--leave the kids in the car. I always park as closely as possible to the carts (and always keep my eye out for one with a double seat.)
+ Always put the "things" in first. Put the cart cover on, get the iPad dialed in, snacks out and ready to go THEN put the kids in. I have found it is much easier to have the kids crying in the car and be happy when they see all the goodness set up for them in the cart as opposed to wrestling them into the cart then scrambling to get all the items out in an effort to make them happy again.
+ Do what you came to do. If the kids aren't having it, don't let that deter you from finishing your trip. I've learned that consistency is key. My boys understand that no amount of crying will get them out of errand running, so for the most part they've given it up.
+Make it fun for the kids! One of our favorite things to do is stop in the toy aisle half way through our shopping trip and explore! This is the only time I let my oldest out of his seat. I'll set the timer for whatever time I have available that day (typically 10-15 min) and when the timer goes off--I'll let him take the toy he's playing with in his seat with him, then continue our shopping. Sometimes, it's a struggle getting him back in, other times he comes willingly. He's two...there's no rhyme or reason to any of it. Just roll with the punches, mama.
+When it's time to check out, push the cart on the side opposite of the candy stand and stand somewhere to keep the stand out of sight as much as possible. Unless of course you're going to allow your little one to take a bit out of every candy they can get their hands on. I can't tell you how many candy bars I've had to purchase because my little one has snagged it off the rack and taken a bite while I'm checking out. This tip took me a little too long to catch on to...also--who's brilliant idea was it to place candy at children's reach in these check out lines!? Obviously not a parent's...
+When getting back into the car I always load kids first. I get them situated and happy in their seats, then take the time to pop open trunk and unload my cart. I learned this one the hard way as there was an instance when I was unloading my cart and went to put something in the back seat...when I looked up my kids were rolling into the parking lot! As I'm sure you can imagine, I got some judgy looks. Turns out when the weight of the groceries are taken out of the cart, it's a little easier for it to move around freely.
+ Keep transitions minimal if you have multiple stops. If I have to go to more than one store, after the first I won't fully "dial in" my boys when I return them to the car. By that I mean--I won't give Van (my oldest) his sippy cup and blanket, or the iPad. I'll just quickly put him in and say "almost done." I'm not sure he fully understands...but for the most part this makes his transition back out of the car a bit easier. And for my baby, I won't give him his pacifier (he uses it just to fall asleep--not as a constant soother) so that he will stay awake until we get to next stop. Sometimes--this causes them to cry the entire way to next stop, but I don't mind because it usually means they're happy to get out and in turn, have a happy shopping experience!
+Extra tip: Some days you may just not have it in you to tackle the errands with your little ones...but you're all out of toilet paper and you have no choice. Ask a mama friend to run errands with you! I can't even tell you how much I appreciate the times Alie + Kayden have joined us for our weekly Target runs. The boys feel like it's a treat because they have their friend there...and honestly-so does mom! Win-win.