Mama, I know it’s easier sometimes to just stay home. I know you probably didn’t take a shower this morning and you don’t want to put on real clothes. I know you were up all night with a hungry baby and you don’t feel like making small talk with anyone. Believe me, I know it takes a good hour to get everyone dressed and the bag packed up before you can leave. I know there’s a good chance your two-year-old is going to have a meltdown in front of strangers. I know the weather is probably not ideal – it’s probably too hot, too chilly, too windy, too buggy. But I think you should leave the house today. I actually think you should leave the house almost every day. Not just for the sake of your kids, but for your own sanity.
For me, the idea of staying home all day with two toddlers gives me a little case of anxiety. Time seems to go by so slowly when they are tearing the house apart, we are switching from one activity to the next, and I’m starting to run out of ideas to entertain them. We slowly slip into a “Sesame Street” black hole and suddenly we’ve watched five episodes. I know a lot of moms maybe enjoy being at home all day, but I personally don’t get it.
Here’s why I think you need to leave the house.
- You get to see your kids interact with other kids. One of my favorite things about being out of the house, and at a place like a playground or the children’s museum, is watching my kids interact with other kids. I love seeing them share, use their imaginations, take turns, and make new friends. And if they aren’t having a good day and they aren’t doing those things? What a better time to teach them these social skills than at that very moment! You can’t work on your social skills when you are by yourselves at home. Also, listening to two three-year-olds have a conversation together is pretty much the sweetest thing ever. I generally leave these situations feeling so proud of my kiddos and how they interact with others – but that’s because we do it almost every day!
- You get to interact with other adults and feel like a normal human. The friendliest people I’ve probably ever met are strangers I’ve talked to while our kids are playing. I don’t always feel like chitchatting, but I suck it up and do it because connecting with another human, who happens to be older than five, is a really good thing. You’ve already got one thing in common: you ventured out of the house with kids. It’s an easy place to start a conversation. Plus, you never know how bad that other person needs to talk to another adult.
- Fresh air = Good naps. The days we stay at home are the toughest to get my kids to take a nap. Guaranteed, if we leave the house, they are going to take a nap when we get home. And it’s going to be a long one. That’s reason enough for me!
- New experiences make memories! Even if you go to the same park every day, no outing is going to be identical. I use our mornings out as an excuse to entertain myself, just as much as my kids. We love trying out new parks, going to the aquarium, the children’s museum, and eating ice cream at the pier. These are such sweet times that I’ll never have back with my two little boys. I would so much rather be making memories at the beach (even if it’s not always easy!) then staring at the clock at home while we watch “Trolls” for the millionth time.
- You don’t have to be stuck at home just because the weather isn’t perfect. I feel like before having kids, weather was never a factor. Now I think about it every day! I am constantly checking the weather app on my phone, but it doesn’t have to hold you back! Pick an activity that makes sense no matter what the weather is! Bring an umbrella. Wear a jacket. Wear a tank if it’s hot! You’re an adult, you know how to dress in different types of weather. You know how to handle different types of weather! It’s going to be okay if it rains on you at the park. Remember that part about making memories? Don’t let normal changes in weather affect your life.
Tips for a successful outing:
- Keep your bag stocked. Snacks (like more snacks then you ever thought possible), hats, warm clothes, backup clothes, water bottles, sunscreen, and bug spray are in my bag at all times. I also keep special hidden toys and bribery treats in case things get hairy.
- Have the right gear. For me this means a good double stroller or wagon. I keep one in my car at all times just in case we need it! For you, it could mean a baby carrier or one of those backpack leashes. I’m not judging.
- Pick a time that works best for your schedules. For us, it’s about 10am-1pm. You know your kids and their needs. Don’t try to fight it, but be flexible! Maybe they’d do better than you think if you miss naptime by ten minutes because you are having fun at the playground.
- “We can always go home!” That’s what I tell myself every day. Especially if we are going somewhere trickier like the beach or someplace we’ve never been before. If it’s a disaster and everyone is crying (including me), or I didn’t pack enough snacks, or the bugs are too bad – just go home! No big deal. At least you tried.
- If you’re anxious about going somewhere by yourself, meet other people there! Text girlfriends, or join groups like MeetUp or Hike It Baby and you have an automatic support system.
Girl, I know you can do it. Even on the days that seem tough, throw on a ball cap and some sunglasses, drive through Starbucks, and just leave the house. I bet you will feel so much better if you do. And I think your kids are going to love it too. Actually, I know they will.