(Me “rolling” with the boys in London)
Getting around in a city with children can be…challenging. It has taken me the better part of a year to really feel like I have got it under control.
So, I will impart my wisdom to you in case- you know- you ever have the urge to pack up your life and move to the biggest city in the country. And then travel overseas. Which I think is a slightly-insane, but wonderfully brave idea.
This is how I navigate the city with two small boys:
I have a wonderful Graco double stroller that I love for outings like the mall or the zoo. However, in the city, there is No. Room. For. A .Double. Stroller. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE! True in New York, and it’s true in London! (thanks to my reader Freya, for giving me the heads up before our trip!)
Not only will you get dirty looks, you will be unable to navigate in most stores or on and off the subway.
The exception would be if you are willing to shell out $500 to get this number- in which case, please stick one in your cart for me as well. Hello-It’s Christmas!
What you CAN handle in the city, and what people don’t mind squeezing in next to on public transit, is a lightweight, umbrella-type number.
A lot of people around here have this little beauty. I have this filthy old Maclaren that I got for a whopping $15 at a resale shop in Idaho (holla!), and it has held up beautifully through many miles! But, I’m sure many cheaper brands would do just fine!
2) My BUGGY BOARD!! : (click for link)
Well, hello there ingenious invention! I had NEVER seen these before moving to the city- and it only took me about a week to buy one for myself. (note: I did find it on sale in an East Coast store called Buy-Buy Baby –gag on the name with me-, so shop around!)
It attaches to just about any stroller and provides a little scooter-board platform for your big kid (or huge, independent 1 year old named Isaac) to stand on when your single-stroller is occupied.
Here is another view, in front of St. Paul’s cathedral:
It is easily removable- I keep the brackets on full time and just snap on and off the buggy board as needed. It is also wide enough that your 4 year old can sit on it for brief periods when their “legs are TIRED!! WAAAAH!”
I would say the only downside is that, when it is unoccupied, I tend to forget that it is there and I slam my shins on it over and over. Seriously. When we were at the NYC hotel- I had permanent bruises.
But, that is kind of like blaming the shoe that you keep tripping on. Just pick it up already! So, my bad? But ouch!
3) Baby carrier:
I could go on and on about baby carriers. I have tried many, many, many, and maybe I will talk more about them at a later point. The one in the picture is this one. (again, I got it on sale online!)
But, for now, I will just say: choose your favorite baby carrier, and take it with you! Even though you are bringing your stroller! And even though your baby is almost the same size as you!
Because you never know when your older child might get too tired for even the buggy board or when they might fall down and get hurt! They may need to take a little turn sitting down or dozing off in the stroller, or they may be crying because or a teensie scrape and refusing to move.
At that point baby #2 must still be contained! Throw him/her on your back and keep on moving! (this was especially crucial before Isaac learned to walk!)
4) Camera/camera bag:
I am a big fan of recording the memories. But, if you feel like you can’t handle taking pictures while making sure that your children don’t run into traffic, cut yourself some slack, and leave the camera at home. You might NOT want to remember your outing anyway!
When I was in London, however, I KNEW that I would want to be taking pictures. So, I made the most of my camera bag and used it to carry our money/room key/credit card as well! Voila! No purse needed!
5) One of these utility bag things for your stroller:
(click for link: although mine is not nearly as nice as this. Want! Want!)
Throw in a change of clothes for each kid, some ziplocs, some diapers, wipes, and hand sanitizer. Instant diaper bag! That you don’t have to carry on your back!
(Because, remember? A BABY might be on that back of yours! You adorable pack mule, you!)
6) BRING ZIPLOC BAGGIES:
I cannot stress this point enough. It was the best advice ever given to me by my oldest sister. (Although she DOES have 7 children, so she is a bit crazy!)
BRING BAGGIES!! And not just one! I would say at least 4 all tucked into each other. 3 gallon sizes and a quart size. But, maybe a few more just in case.
Why? You may ask? I have no idea. And neither do you.
But, the time will come when you may need them. And you won’t just need them a little! You will DESPERATELY, DESPERATELY need them!
Bodily fluid-catchers (aka puke bags), banana peels, wet clothes, poopy diapers, blow-out clothes, lollipop-covered shirts, contaminated socks after your son splashed in a NYC puddle mostly made up of urine (true story, unfortunately)….. the list is infinite.
Remember when Isaac got sick on a road trip and threw up 7 times and we ran out of wipes and had to use socks to clean him? If we hadn’t had ziplocs…well… I shudder to think of it.
Just agree to bring them so that I can stop talking about bodily fluids, okay?
Bring them just in case. Kids are whiny when they’re cold, and old ladies will be sure to stop you and comment every 100 feet if you don’t have a second-layer option when the temperature drops.
They also make good pillows or towels for spill-clean up. Just make sure they are machine-washable!
Bring a couple of things to munch on to maximize your chances of happy kids!
Also, it keeps you from being reliant on $5 street vendor food that will have you burping it for the rest of the day. Don’t ask me how I know this.
In the picture, I actually had store-bought snacks at the ready since we were traveling/reliant on a small hotel refrigerator. If this is the case, buy your snacks at the beginning of the outing so that, when your kids are suddenly starving and sobbing, you have something on hand! Less mom sweat for you!
I also always try to bring a few hidden lollipops or fruit snacks. Usually, I don’t need to use them, but if Mommy sees some pretties in a store front window that she wants to check out, then
Lollipop = 5 minutes of quiet shop time.
Plus, I know for a fact, that a packet of fruit snacks eaten secretly in one gulp with your eyes closed/deep breathing can help Mommy have the oomph to make it through the rest of the trip.
9) Comfortable shoes:
No one thinks crocs are cute. I don’t think? Well, I do kind of like the neon ones that my kids wear in the summer. But NO ONE thinks that they look cute on me.
I don’t care.
I have seen enough women limping around in adorable shoes to know that this is just the way I am going to roll.
Sometimes, I try to class-it-up a bit with Nikes. Either way, save the cute shoes for a date!
Your back and shins will already be aching from this outing- give yourself one less thing to whine about!
10) A binky/comfort items:
Even if your kid is only “allowed” to have said binky for nap/night time (*cough* Isaac! *cough*). I consider this my most crucial ICE (In Case of Emergency) item.
Happy children = happy Mommy = fun trip.
Cut yourself some slack and plug that screaming child’s mouth!
11) Just do it.
Get out there! See the sights! With your kids!
Is it going to be easy? No. Will you be glad you did it…10 years down the road once the pain wears off? Yes! Just keep moving and it will be over and you will have awesome memories.
You can do it! I promise! Go!