It happened last month. I was doing some last minute prepping before taking our 4-year-old twins to a birthday party for their good buddies – also girl and boy twins. These kids’ parents are just as super as their kids and have become friends as well. I had an inkling that their mom would be hosting a Kid Throwdown Birthday Extravaganza given how I view her as a woman who doesn’t take on any project half-a%#ed.
My kids and I had carefully selected gifts for their friends well in advance and I was feeling pretty gosh darn proud of how well I had gotten my act together. So, a couple of hours before the party, I was strutting the New Organized Me around and giving myself lots of atta-girls as I went to wrap up these Perfect Gifts.
Then my Supermom bubble burst.
I had no gift bags that fit this oddly shaped gift. My kids were sleeping and I couldn’t make a Target run. I was NOT about to wake them up prematurely because there was no way I wanted to risk delivering demons to this party. An hour later, after lots of manipulating wrapping paper, I ended up with the biggest horror show of a birthday present most anyone has ever seen. I honestly think that my tots could have done a better job. Scroll down to witness Exhibit A below – if you dare.
After the humiliation of bringing this monstrosity (and a normal-looking package that no one would remember in comparison) into the Kid Shangri-La birthday party, complete with remote control trucks, balls of all shapes, hula hoops, and of course the most gloriously wrapped birthday presents displayed on a table, I had to regroup. It’s time to get organized.
So what kind of things should a parent of little kids have always at the ready to avoid these sorts of mishaps?
- (The obvious) Gift bags in all shapes and sizes and a variety of tissue and wrapping paper. The thrifty mom in me rarely tosses perfectly acceptable gift bags that come into our home for the purpose of re-gifting. (Wait, it’s not re-gifting if it is a gift bag….right?) I personally like to keep bags and gift wrap in solid colors with lots of fun ribbon for their versatility. I recommend shopping at Tuesday Morning and wholesale clubs for great deals and lots of options.
- A potty in the car. I know you must be thinking I’m really gross right now. But don’t judge until you have been on a 10 hour road trip with a little one who lacks the ability to hold it until you get out of Nastyville. We have a tiny potty on top of towels in the back of our van. There’s toilet paper, wet wipes for the dreaded van pooping episodes and antibacterial wipes to tidy hands up. We have plastic bags (to temporarily hold used t.p.) and several water bottles to rinse out the potties after use. Mamas of little ones at the beginning of potty training, you will thank me later.
- Ziploc bags. Lots of ’em. I keep these in the car and the house. When my kids were a little younger, I kept these in the diaper bag too. Whenever you don’t have time to locate a clean snack bowl, these little baggies make the perfect portable container for snacks.
- Scissors. Again, I like keep these in the car and house. Why you ask? Have you ever had to offer to buy toys as an incentive to your children to behave? Or as a reward for something awesome they’ve done? If so, you may know that your tyke finds it torturous to have The Greatest New Toy Ever in his or her possession and not be able to get into the package. For me, this would be the equivalent of walking into Kilwin’s chocolate store to watch the employees make fudge and not be able to partake. It’s sorta cruel.
- AAA and AA batteries. Similar to the scissors point, it also is fairly unkind to present a new toy to a child and not be able to get the thing working because you don’t have the right batteries at home. (In my experience, these two types have been the most necessary. If you have little ones who are in to remote control cars, you’re probably going to need a few of the other types too.) Oh, and my sister swears the rechargeable batteries are a must for the battery hog toys.
- Frozen ice packs. Even if your children are too young for preschool, having ice packs on hand can help you be prepared for impromptu picnics. There are also super handy if you don’t want to fast-food-it on road trips.
- A change of clothes. Yes, fairly self-explanatory. Even when your kids get older though, you may want to keep extra clothes on hand if you frequent the types of museums like our Discovery Place in Charlotte which have indoor water tables. Or if you have clumsy tots who manage to get more water on their clothes than in their mouths.
- First aid kits. Certainly a brilliant idea that is NOT exclusive to me, but an important reminder. Yesterday, as I was was hustling my kids into their first speech therapy session at a local elementary school, my son wiped out on the pavement. It happens. For some, it happens a LOT. I have Bactine literally ALL over my world. In the car, in the house, in every bathroom. I think I’ll start keeping it in my purses too. That’s how much I love it. Oh, and get the original kind, not the spray. (The spray’s reviews are less than stellar.) I get mine on Amazon. It used to be on Subscribe and Save, but the subscription appears to not be an option anymore…boo.
In the article “Leaving the House With Little Ones the Drama-Free Way,”, Jamie Davis Smith throws out a few other pointers. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-davis-smith/leaving-the-house-with-little-ones-the-drama-free-way_b_5753840.html
She suggests packing two bags in advance with essentials: one at home and one that lives in the car. I did this a good bit more when my kids were in diapers and when the necessary items were almost always the same. Snacks, pacifiers, diapering items, toys. I cannot begin to fathom how many hours I have saved by not having to run back and forth from the van to the house simply because I had duplicate items already ready to go. And if you simply CAN’T be prepared 100% of the time (who can?), Jamie recommends setting your clocks 30 minutes ahead. Through this simple action, you can be in a better mindset to tackle those unexpected twists and turns that come our way.
What are your mom essentials? What do you need to have handy to be ready to handle your family’s own twists and turns?