A lot of people seem to think that babies need a lot more than they actually do - there seems to be an epidemic of overbuying for baby. But it's not just that we have too much stuff for baby - it's that we bring it everywhere with us. Everywhere. All of it.
I used to laugh at my brother and sister-in-law when they'd arrive for a family dinner with my nephew. They'd walk in, each with a diaper bag over a shoulder, one of them carrying the baby, one carrying his carseat and an extra blanket. My sister-in-law would start unpacking bottles into the fridge while my brother ran out to the car to grab the swing and toys. Ummm...are you here for dinner or are you moving in?
This is another one of those things that parents kind of figure out over time. With the first baby, leaving the house is like preparing for battle. There are checklists and plans and back-up plans, overstuffed diaper bags with bottles and sippy cups and diapers and wipes and receiving blankets and pacifiers and teething toys and a couple of changes of clothes, a bag of extra toys, a seat or swing or something to keep them contained and entertained, the monitor in case they take a nap and you want to put them down in another room. It takes twenty minutes to load up the car...and this is all just for a three-hour visit to Grandma and Grandpa's.
By the second baby, you figure out that they don't really need all that equipment and can usually pare it down to a pre-packed diaper bag and the booster seat you keep in your trunk for dinners out.
We're on kid number three, and it takes us about seven seconds to leave the house, whether we're going shopping at the mall or for dinner at my parents' or out to the zoo for the entire day.
My diaper bag consists of my purse - that's right, just my purse. No, not an extra purse packed with all the baby essentials. Just my regular purse. It's a big-ish purse, but not even all that big. My purse contains - aside from the necessities of wallet, phone and keys - a slim pack of wipes, three diapers, a cotton sleeper (slimmest-folding emergency change of clothes for Baby), a water bottle, crackers, a small stuffy, two dinky cars, a pack of crayons, and a notebook. All children covered, entertainment-wise and emergency-wise, for a day. No bulky padded diaper bags, no extra things to carry, no equipment or crazy toys. That's it.
Try to be realistic about what you actually need for a few hours out of the house. If you get into the habit of overpacking and turning every outing into a production, you won't be inclined to go out as much; and if you do bring too much every time you leave the house you'll be far less likely to enjoy those outings. Unpack that bulging diaper bag and refill it with only the essentials. Leave the equipment at home. You'll be amazed at how much more you enjoy your outing and how much you don't miss all that extra stuff you didn't bring along for baby.
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