I like to think that I am a pretty loving and caring mom. That said, I am also that kind of mom that goes crazy if she spends the whole day inside the house with her lovely child. Therefore, since Loulou was really really young, I made a point to go for a walk with her every single day. Things were pretty easy when she was a baby that slept pretty much all the time. We anyway had to take her for those oh-so-pleasant walks to relieve her colic or whatever that thing was. So we did get plenty of fresh air.
Now that she has turned one and is officially a toddler our walks and other outdoors activities require a bit more preparation. I don’t know which leap to blame for it, but she has actually become pretty interactive and requires attention and entertainment. Who would have thought?!
After much trial and error I have managed to find activities that work for both of us (or three of us, when papa comes along). She has the chance to socialize, use up some of her endless toddler energy and explore. And I have the chance to sip a cup of coffee, if I am quick enough, and also get her tired enough to have an early bedtime, so I can be creative (aka procrastinate on pinterest).
So if you are a parent of a toddler or soon-to-be toddler, I hope that the following lists will be of help to your family.
What to pack
That’s right. When you go out with a toddler the perfect bag size is a mini suitcase, you know, the ones you can take in the cabin in low cost airlines? That’s the kind. You thought that babies need a lot of stuff? Well, I ‘ve got news for you. Toddlers need (or want!) even more stuff!
- Baby wipes. Get the ones that are both for faces and bums.
- Snacks. Oh my God, get all the snacks you can! They have saved me from so many tantrum in long bus/train rides! And if you are going to use that distraction tactic, make sure the snacks are health. You are creating an unhealthy association between boredom/frustration and food to your child. At least make sure he devours the healthy stuff. Here are some ideas: cucumbers, raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit, slices of whole grain bread with mashed banana and/or peanut butter as a spread, blueberries, fresh green peas (L eats them raw), sugar snap peas.
- Books. Loulou loves to flip through her books again and again and again. She never gets tired of it. It’s a nice distraction if you don’t want to stuff your kid with food.
- A second set of clothes. Cause they will get dirty/wet/have a diaper leakage. If they don’t get dirty, you might want to think if you allow them to have enough fun. Fun=Dirt the way I see it.
- Water bottle. Filled with water or caffeine-free tea. Personally I don’t see why toddlers should drink juices, that are high in sugar, even if they are made just from fruit. Juices make them hyper. If you use juices to get some fruits and veggies in your picky eater, then it’s a good idea to prepare a smoothie at home in the morning. Those packaged juices? Not good.
- Blanket/ scarf. Depending on the weather, it’s a good idea to have an extra layer of protection from the cold/sun with you, just in case. In the Netherlands the weather changes approximately every 2,3 minutes (I totally made this up) so just have both a blanket and a scarf with you (to use an an extra sunshade).
- Sunscreen. Now, I know this is a controversial topic. Ideally kids should be in the shade with long sleeves. But having some sunscreen with you can put your mind at ease. There are many articles out there about when/how much/what kind of sunscreen you should apply so I am not going to elaborate on that.
- A couple of extra diapers. That’s self-explanatory.
- A baby carrier. This is not for everyone of course, but we have been baby wearing a lot and I find that if Loulou is getting restless in her stroller, popping her into our mei tai gives us one more hour without whining.
Where to go
Of course every toddler is different and some might enjoy socializing with many kids while others might prefer to play on their own, examining every tiny bug and leaf. You will have to try and see what your own tyrant prefers.
- Swimming pool. I love this one. They get soooo tired and they sleep for sooo long afterwards! Of course, there is a downside to this one: you have to pack even more things: towels, swimming diapers, maybe a life vest, a bag to put inside all the wet stuff after the swimming and your own towel and flip flops and so on. Still, I think it’s worth it. It is a great idea to go with a friend. This way one of you can get dressed in peace while the other watches the kids. Otherwise you will have to get dressed with a screaming, tired kid hanging from your leg.
- Petting zoo. Loulou is in love with animals. And all the other toddlers and older kids we see at the petting zoo seem to be in love with the animals too. Just make sure that your child doesn’t secretly stuff their mouth with goat droppings (hasn’t happened to us yet, but she did try of course). Washing their hands thoroughly after they have petted goats and sheep and pigs is really important otherwise they can end up with an eye infection.
- Park. Any park. Toddlers love to crawl and run and examine things and hug trees and climb on benches and rocks. However, this can get pretty tiring from you as you might have to chase them around. They will be tired by the end of the visit, but you will be exhausted. Still, if they are going to sleep at 19:00, totally worth it.
- Play ground. I thought Loulou was too young for this but we went a couple of weeks ago and she had tons of fun in a large sun pit and a little puddle and she played with trucks and dinosaurs and generally had a great time. She also tried to climb the slide from bottom to top. A hundred times.
- Library. One of the reasons that I feel lucky that we live in the Netherlands is the fact that the libraries here are just so great. They all have a kid’s section, even the smallest one, where kids can actually sit and flip through books or lay on soft cushions or just run around. Loulou loves to take the books of the shelves and bring them to me. We flip through one and then she brings the next. I like this activity because it doesn’t require much running on my part. #lazy
- Cafe with kid’s corner. I love a cafe with a proper kid’s corner. There aren’t many around, but the ones that are are truly heaven. The great thing about those is that you can go there and actually enjoy a coffee while your kid plays. Also, even if you blink for a second, your child will most likely not manage to get killed, because there are so many other parents around, sipping their coffee, watching over their kids.
- Craft markets. You can enjoy looking at all the pretty things while your kid gets distracted by the people, the colors, the voices, the smells. Fun for both of you. We did this one last Sunday, visiting the Sunday Market in Amsterdam and it was really great. I highly recommend it.
Of course you can always take your crazed kid and bring it to a friend’s garden or balcony, so that the two of you can commiserate..ehm..talk about the pleasures of parenthood while drinking unlimited amounts of coffee and ice cream, without anyone judging you.
Let me know where you go with your kids in the comments 🙂