Simple Parenting

The One Tip That Helped Me Get Out of the House With a Baby

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The Big Idea: When you leave the house with a baby, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll forget something. When you do, don’t go back–improvise, buy, or make do without it.

I remember the first time we managed to get out of the house as a family after my daughter was born. We took a picture standing in the street in front of our apartment.

In the photo, we look disheveled and slightly delirious. It’s hard to say whether our hollow-eyed expressions came more from sleep deprivation – or the sheer insanity of trying to get out of the house with all the stuff this tiny new creature seemed to require.

It all changed one night, in the middle of a midnight feeding, when I was reading a book called Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads. It offered a rule for new parents:

Never. Go. Back. No matter what you forget.*

[*Unless it’s life-saving medicine. Or your passports and you’re crossing the border. Or, ok, a bottle for your infant.]

As new parents, the book argued, if you headed back home every time you forget something, you would literally never get anywhere. Your brain is simply not functioning well enough. So instead, whatever you forgot,  improvise, buy, or make do without it.

That’s what we began to do. And miraculously, we started actually making it out of the neighborhood without turning around.

I’ve zipped kids into my own jacket when the temperature dropped. Begged diapers from strangers. Scoured convenience stores for healthy snacks while ours sat neatly packaged on the kitchen counter.

Sometimes it’s not pretty. But we manage. Plus, it teaches kids ingenuity, resourcefulness, and flexibility.

And the best part? It has helped me realize that most of the stuff we were schlepping, we don’t actually need anyway.

Ailen is the Managing Editor at ParentsTogether. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and two spirited boys.