By Alissa Forester
How many times have I been without something that I absolutely needed? Like when we were on a plane to Cancun for a family vacation, and my two year-old was screaming on my lap (squished against my large pregnant belly) because I left her pacifier in the stroller. Stupid me, the binky was the only thing we couldn't live without- and it was stowed safely under the plane. We finally got the DVD player out, so she could be mesmerized by "Elmo," and the batteries went dead. She ended up falling asleep on my lap for two hours (thank God), and peeing through her full diaper- all over my lap. It was lovely. Did I mention that my husband and I weren't seated together, and that the large gentleman sitting in front of me had his seat reclined from take-off?
It sometimes seems like I end up needing the only thing that I forget. I forget snacks, and my kids are starving… I forget a diaper and the baby has a blow out… no change of clothes and someone pees their pants or spills all over them self. It's hilarious really- not at the time though. I almost cried at Target last summer. My daughter Sydney was almost three, and we were still trying to perfect the long, joyful process of potty training. I knew she had to poop, because she had gone a little in her pants that morning. But she refused to go. That is how it was for about three months. It was time to go, and she would hide. So we would take her to the bathroom and she would scream and cry and hold it in as long as she was on that toilet. Anyways, I had to take off her poopy panties, and I didn't bring a spare pair. And that's like the first thing you figure out when you're potty training your kid- always always have more undies on hand. I obviously hadn't learned that yet.
It was the dead of summer, mind you, so she was weary these tiny shorts- WITH NO PANTIES. So we walk into Target, and I take her to the bathroom right away. I thought we could take care of it, so I wouldn't be racing across the store to the bathroom. I had my infant son in the car seat still- thank God. I sat her down on that toilet and she started screaming and crying. This wasn't your normal cry- she was hysterical. Granted we were in the family bathroom, so it was a private stall; but everyone going to the bathroom had to walk past it. I'm sure it sounded like I was sawing her arm off. I'm surprised CPS wasn't called, because she screamed like she was being abused. We did this for twenty minutes- I would beg, and plead, and bribe, but she would only scream. No poop. So I finally told her we could go, but she had to promise- pinky promise even, that if she had to go poop, she would tell me.
As we shopped, I'm asking her constantly if she has to go- I'm terrified. I could see her little pee pee through her shorts as she sat in the cart, and I know it's going to go everywhere if she goes. But she does great. My little Sydney was so sweet and quiet, I almost forgot about it all by the time we go to checkout. We of course go to the cashier at the very end, right in front of Starbucks. You know where this is going. I let her out of the cart, and she was standing in front of my cart- center stage to everyone that was walking out. Sydney starts to do the potty dance, and says, "I go poo poo! Poo poo!" I was swiping my card, and we had probably one or two minutes before we could be in the bathroom. I tell her to hold it in, that we are going to run to the potty. As I say this, she starts to go. She was sort of pacing back and forth, so it was like a horse pooping while walking. And it wasn't little either. No, my sweet little girl had a monstrosity of a poop that she had held in for like five days, and there were big chunks of hit just falling out of those tiny shorts. I just stood there, with my hand over my mouth- eyes popping out of my head. Everyone in our vicinity (which was everyone at Starbucks or exiting the store) seemed to stop and stare at the spectacle of my kid pooping all over the floor at Target.
I think I moved faster than I've ever moved- I grabbed a plastic bag off the rack and picked up the poop with the bag. I grabbed a bunch of wipes out of my purse, and wiped it all up. There was no evidence of it all after 30 seconds of me swooping in.
After apologizing profusely, we walked very quickly out to the car. I stripped her down in the parking lot and had to wipe her from the waist down, it was even on her shoes. We drove home with Sydney naked in her car seat, crying. I was so mad, I was crying. And all of this could have been prevented by an extra pair of panties?!
So now, I really try to be prepared. I try to look ahead and anticipate every need that might arise, so that I'm not kicking myself when the inevitable happens. I have loved getting tips from other moms who are smarter and more knowledgeable than I am. And of course I have learned a few things the hard way on my own. Isn't that how we become better parents? We learn from our mistakes, and from the mistakes of others. And with a little preparation, hopefully life will be a little easier.
THE ART OF BEING PREPARED
FOOD- doing things ahead of time makes it quick and easy when you are getting kids ready and trying to get out the door. Don't think you need to set aside a big chunk of time to cook, just do a little here and there when you are already in the kitchen. Do two things at once- you're already a pro at it! Also think about the week ahead- is there anything that can be done ahead of time? Having something pre-prepared really makes a difference.
-Make a large batch of oatmeal (I do steel cut oats) on Sunday for the week ahead. Just split it into individual portions, like in plastic containers, and all you have to do is add water or milk and microwave it for 30 seconds. I like to add sliced bananas and apples to it. It doesn't take much effort, and you can do other things (like cook dinner, do the dishes, stuff you already need to do) while it cooks. I know you can do the quick oatmeal, or the instant packs, but the regular oats are much less processed. In the end, you can have breakfast for yourself, your spouse, and the kids ready in a snap. For me, this ensures that I actually eat breakfast. It also makes it easy to bring breakfast with you if you are running late.
-Make lunch the night before. If you pack a lunch for work, or for your kids at school, do it the night before. How many times have I had to go back to school to deliver lunch to my daughter because I didn't have time to fix it?
-Make food for the kids whenever you are in the kitchen. If you are making breakfast, put some pasta on the stove for lunch or dinner. Throw some veggies in the steamer. Think of simple things that you can do to pre-prepare healthy snacks and meals for you kids.
-Meal plan for the entire week. Go through your cookbooks or favorite recipes and plan out meals at the beginning of the week. Write down ingredients that you need and add them to your shopping list. This saves money too, as you are buying only what you know you are cooking, and you aren't going out because you've planned for it. This also enables you to look at your schedule and pre-prepare things if you need to.
ON THE GO- how many times have I been without wipes, or dipes, or some simple everyday necessity?
-Keep a bin or basket in your car, and keep it stocked. Pack it with items for changing diapers, a change of clothes for each child, snacks, and a few toys or games. If something gets used or runs out, replace it.
-Separate items for changing needs, food, and clothing. Have a bag, bin, pouch, whatever- so that you can easily find and transport what you need. I don't carry a big diaper bag anymore, so I just grab whatever pouch I need and bring it with me. If I need to change a diaper, the diaper pouch is stocked with everything I need. I keep clothes for each kid in a labeled zip lock bag- then each kid's clothes are together, transportable, and findable; and you even have the bag to put the dirty clothes in. You can create your own pouch- a first-aid kit, a swim pouch, anything that you use on a weekly basis.
ROUTINES- studies show that children do well in environments that have a routine. My daughter's preschool even recommended to have a routine to get ready each morning.
-Lay the kids clothes out the night before. Whether you have places to go, or you're just getting your kiddo to school, talk with them the night before about what they'll wear the next day. Let them help you to pick out their outfit. Then in the morning, there are no surprises or tantrums about what to wear, because you have already decided on it together. This makes it easier when someone else is dressing your child (like a spouse or grandparent), or when your kid is dressing them self.
-Find what works for you and your kids. If it is a constant struggle to get ready and out the door, try changing up your routine. I used to wake my kids up, feed them breakfast, and then get them dressed. We were always rushing and we were usually late. For some strange reason, I tried dressing them first one day, then feeding them breakfast. WOO HOO! We went from morning craziness, to my kids having time to watch cartoons for 15 minutes before we left. For whatever reason, a different routine was easier and more natural for my kids to follow.
YOU- I am convinced that all those beautiful moms that you see dropping their kids off at school- you know the ones, with their hair and makeup done perfectly every day, and a thought-out outfit? They get up early. It's that simple- they prepare, and set aside time for themselves. I on the other hand, drop off my preschooler in yoga pants and with hair thrown up. Makeup schmakeup. I'm feeling good if I brush my teeth.
-Shower and get ready before your kids even wake up. You know once they're up, you will be trying to coral them into getting ready. You will forget about yourself, and then when you have ten or even five minutes before you have to leave, you realize that you look like momzilla. So wake them up with a smile on your face because you are ready!
-Lay out your clothes the night before. It only takes five minutes of forethought to choose what you're going to wear tomorrow morning. If you can save yourself time and prevent chaos with a little preparation, do it. A colleague of mine once told me that it takes the same amount of effort to put on a cute outfit as it does to put on sweats. I was amazed at her rightness. I am much more likely to wear something put-together if I choose it the night before.
Read more at www.HappyHourMom.com