Being out alone with a small child is difficult! While we mostly do things together as a family, I happen to go out alone with my son every once in a while. And it is really not a walk in the park – unless the park is Jurassic Park. It is definitely much more difficult to deal with a wiggly toddler while maneuvering around a stroller, heavy diaper bag, etc. while having no help!
Obviously, this year has been very different than previous years because of COVID-19. Thus, our outings have been very limited. However, more and more businesses have opened. Additionally, more families have made the decision for one parent to stay at home with the kids while schools are still closed. Since these parents might also do more outings alone, these life hacks and tips can come in handy.
Get a good lightweight stroller
I cannot emphasize this enough. If there is one tip I can give expectant moms: invest in a great lightweight stroller or put one on your baby registry. My Yoyo Babyzen has been the absolute best investment and has made my life easier in the last 2 years. It folds up super easily and even fits in the overhead compartment in an airplane. I already have to carry around enough things for the baby. The last thing I need would be a bulky 30-pound full-size stroller. And quite frankly, if you only have one child, this is really all you need stroller-wise. Also, make sure you get a stroller parking permit to be able to park in the designated stroller parking spots. Those are usually in areas very close to the entry so you won’t have to schlep too far.
As a mom of a toddler, I completely understand that moms of small children feel the need to be prepared for every emergency. That’s why they usually bring food, milk, diapers, a change of clothes for the child, a change of clothes for mom, toys, etc. Keep in mind that when you’re alone, YOU will be the one carrying all these things in addition to your child. This is why I learned to go with a more minimalist approach. I know that I can always buy him food or share what I order with him. I bring maybe a small toy or 2 and one light outfit. There are down-sized diaper bag versions that are basically just for the wipes and the diapers and serve as a changing pad at the same time.
If your destination is a mall, inform yourself about which one is family-friendly. Here in Miami, some of the malls have amazing bathrooms with nursing rooms, and very big and comfortable changing tables, e.g. the Shops at Merrick Park women’s restroom will make you feel like royalty. I recently discovered that the Miami Design District has some mack daddy fancy-looking bathrooms, a separate nursing room, and a changing room. You will find these right in front of the second-floor swings. The fact that these malls are outdoors is a huge advantage if you have to go shopping during COVID-19. Make sure to pack plenty of hand sanitizer and a mask for you and your little one (if older than 2 years old). Stay tuned for some fashionable masks from Miami Mom Collective.
If you have a very young baby (under 25 pounds), baby carrying is the way to go. You’ll keep your little one close to you and in contrast to carrying them on your arms, you will have both hands free. My favorites for males are Baby Bjorn and for females Baby K’tan.
Phonelace instead of phone case
Every mom can probably relate when I’m saying that my toddler wants to be carried around at all times. I try to always keep my phone at hand because – let’s be honest – I depend on it for so many things. So I usually end up with literally all hands full trying not to drop either baby or phone. A few months ago, I got a phone case with a lace attached to it. I swear this is one of the most genius inventions ever! I can just hang my phone around my shoulder while carrying the baby which makes it so much more convenient.
Adhesive table placemats and toys
Parents who go to a restaurant (which is currently only possible outdoors) with their kids know that is often challenging. Kids tend to not like to sit still in one place for too long. And when they are given toys or crayons, they tend to toss them on the floor. This is why I swear by adhesive disposable placemats that he can’t rip off. Also, there are toys with suction cups that hold on to smooth surfaces. You can use this to entertain your child during meals so you actually get to eat and don’t have to play the pick-up game.
Tide to Go instant stain remover pen
This goes without any further explanation – kids are messy and spill stuff on themselves and you all the time. If you don’t want to bring a ton of extra clothes, just get these to help you on the go with any stains.
Milk to go
If your child is older than 12 months and has to drink milk, get some organic whole milk boxes at the supermarket. Get the kind that does not need to be refrigerated so you can take them on the go. I used to buy infant formula but these milk boxes are just so much easier and less messy to take on the go!
Get a diaper backpack
One of my best decisions: I chose a backpack as my diaper bag instead of a purse. It keeps you a lot more balanced while carrying the baby. In my case, I also decided to get a not-so-feminine backpack so I could get my husband to carry it. He is a traditional Cuban and would never carry a purse. And it worked!
I hope these mom life hacks were helpful to you. If you have any mom lifesaver tips, I would love to hear about them in the comments.