There were a lot of surprising aspects of the fourth trimester, the first few weeks at home with my new baby. One of those things was how impossible it seemed to be able to leave the house.
Even something as simple as a Saturday afternoon drive to pick up ice cream seemed like too much of a hassle and not worth it (but ice cream is always worth it, so I’d send everyone else and have them bring me back a pint). The energy it took to pack my diaper bag, to get the baby in her car seat (and check 10 times that she was strapped in tight enough), and to lug the car seat to the car, all while recovering from childbirth, was mentally and physically more than I could handle.
And now, 10 months later, I won’t claim to be a parenting expert, but I can successfully leave my house with my daughter in tow, without having a meltdown. And I’m talking about me having the meltdown.
Here’s the truth about leaving the house with a newborn and how to make it happen.
It’s really challenging at first, but it will get easier
It seems hard to believe in those first few weeks and months, but it truly does get easier. You become more confident in everything you are doing as a parent and leaving the house with a baby becomes a manageable task. You find your rhythm, you learn the best way to hold the car seat, and you know how to expertly pack your diaper bag.
Keep your diaper bag stocked
And speaking of diaper bags, always have your diaper bag packed and ready to go. When you return home from an outing, refill it as needed (more diapers, new change of clothes, burp clothes, etc). This prevents you from running around, trying to grab everything you might need as you head out the door.
Give yourself extra time, but be OK with being late
As someone who prides themselves on always being on time, it was hard to accept that this was my new normal—running late everywhere and usually arriving covered in spit-up. If you really want to be prompt, give yourself way more time than you think you need—you’ll probably need it. And if you’re still late, everyone you’re meeting should let it slide. It’s an accomplishment simply to be out. Celebrate that and don’t stress over when you arrive.
Ask for help
It can feel empowering to go on solo adventures with your little one. Those adventures might just be to a coffee shop a mile away, but it’s still a big adventure! If you need help getting yourself out of the house and your partner is around, let them help. Have them carry the car seat or even just unlock and start the car for you.
Practice makes perfect
The learning curve for parenthood is a steep one. The more you do things, the better you’ll get at them, and getting yourself out of the house is one that will become second nature. Don’t feel the need to force yourself out of the house in the first few weeks if you’d rather rest at home. But also don’t hold yourself back from going out and doing things, because it will be hard, but you will learn.
Currently, I’m in a great groove with my 10-month old. I hear getting out of the house with a toddler is an epic challenge, so for now, I’ll enjoy where we are at and will look forward to my next parenting hurdle when we get to it.