Always come prepared. The minute we become parents this becomes our new motto. Always come prepared.
With first babies, we are over-prepared most of the time. The diaper bag is full. Every possible scenario is considered and all necessary items are stowed away in the over-sized bag should we meet with any of those scenarios. Diapers are the least of what actually comprises a diaper bag.
But a funny thing happens when the second child (and any thereafter) comes along. Suddenly we feel an uncontrollable urge to downsize. We can’t possibly tote around two or more kids AND this overflowing bag of stuff, most of which we never even use. So we rid ourselves of the bulky diaper bag and pride ourselves on our ability to put exactly what we need into a large purse. It’s almost a symbol of having mastered mommyhood on some level, “check it out! I have everything in here!”
Almost all of my mommy friends had the same experience. “I can’t go back to that diaper bag. This is so much more manageable”. Downsizing frees up some extra strength for those moments when you have to carry two kids uphill to get to the car on a sweltering morning. It forces you to think about what you REALLY need; not what you think you might possibly need.
On any given day, I leave the house with diapers, wipes, two water cups, two snacks, tissues, hand/facial wipes, a water bottle for me, a car and a lovey for my son, my iPhone, maybe some cash (but probably just credit cards), and a few lollipops (don’t judge me until you finish reading this story). I can survive almost any outing on those few items stowed in a large purse.
Today I broke the cardinal rule of parenting. I didn’t come prepared.
In a last minute change of plans, we headed to the pier to meet some friends for a play date. In my mind, we would walk along the pier, watch the surfers, and maybe dig a little in the sand. What we actually did was set up camp a few feet from the ocean so that the kids could focus on sand play.
My daughter is slightly afraid of the mighty Pacific (and rightfully so, it can be a bit daunting when the surf is high) and mostly keeps to the beach. She much prefers the calm demeanor of Long Island Sound at her Mimi’s house. My son can’t get enough of the ocean. Despite his refusal to wear shorts, a bathing suit, or even take off his shoes, he can’t tear himself away. He could easily spend an entire afternoon throwing shells in the water and watching the waves.
The problem is that he hasn’t quite figured out how to get out of the way of the waves while fully clothed.
Today he tripped during an attempt to escape a big wave and ended up covered head to toe in cold water and wet sand. Needless to say, it did not go over well.
Partially because I did not bring a change of clothes. I did not come prepared.
My son is my easy one. He’s mellow, happy-go-lucky, and keeps himself busy. I stopped bringing extra clothes for him long ago because he absolutely never needed them. Not even once. And yet there we were, twenty-five minutes into our play date, without a backup plan. My friend graciously offered her extra clothes, but the robot shirt didn’t sit well with him. He needed cars. Disney cars to be specific.
So what do you do when you aren’t prepared and things go awry?
You soothe him.
You strip off the uncomfortable clothes, sit him on your lap, and have a snack.
You empathize with him.
You hold him tight, calm him down, and promise to remember the extra clothes the next time you go to the beach (if you ever get him to agree to go to the beach again!).
And then you break out the true backup plan. Because if you’ll recall, I wasn’t entirely unprepared. Somewhere deep in my purse, where small hands can’t reach, I ALWAYS have lollipops.
My son agreed to be carried up the hill, in the sweltering heat, in nothing but his diaper…for the promise of a lollipop on the way home. Works like a charm every time.
Of course, I can’t give a lollipop to one and not the other (not at these ages anyway), so my daughter got one too. I specified that they would be handing over the lollipops when the car reached the driveway. Fortunately it’s a quick ride home and they both immediately complied.
In the end I guess I shouldn’t say that I was unprepared…more like under-prepared. Lollipops: Don’t leave home without them.
What do you do when you find yourself unprepared?