Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Despite traveling internationally and domestically on a regular basis, even on a basic trip to the store, I have to pack a million things. The store is only a few minutes away, but lack of preparation will make those minutes feel like years. Even after a year and a half of parenting, I feel like I still don’t quite have the hang of local travel.

Local travel is harder to me than a vacation or long-distance trip. If I’m packing for travel, much to my husband’s annoyance, I pack so much more than I need. I’m prepared for anything, and I’ve got enough spare outfits to last us an additional week even if I’m only gone for the weekend. But a quick trip to the store? We’re lucky if I have a bra on.

These are all the items that I’m very likely to forget when making a trip to the local grocery store:

  • The diaper bag – critical item, one that I have a hard time holding on to
  • My wallet – money is also important, which is why my cellphone case doubles as a card holder
  • WIC checks – my only reason for going to the store, and I’m without
  • Proper clothes – Hallie is always very well dressed. Me? Can you tell if I’m wearing a bra under this sweatshirt?
  • Milk – this one is very hard for me, because I’m normally packing my milk in my built in to-go carriers. As Hallie weans, this will grow increasingly more important.

And then once I get home, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have forgotten the one item I actually need. I’ll be wandering Wal-Mart, and Hallie will be holding a nice new pair of slippers and I’ll get home without the deodorant.

I have purchased many an item, including a new outfit, because I wasn’t prepared but still 30 minutes from home. We have all been there, and when you have a toddler running around determined to risk her own life every five seconds, it’s very easy to forget the basics.

These are my tips for local travel, along with crossing my fingers and hoping for the best:

  • Always keep the diaper bag stocked. If you use a back-up outfit, replace it as soon as you get home. Replenish diapers and wipes regularly, and even rotate the toys to spice things up.
  • If you like bribing your child with candy (I do!), keeping small suckers for emergencies is genius. Only to be used when you’re caught in a long line at the bank and you missed nap time, otherwise it will lose its power.
  • Have a designated spot for the diaper bag as well as your child’s shoes, whether it’s a shelf or cubby. I can’t tell you how many minutes I’ve wasted searching for a very small shoe.
  • Use a grocery list. I like the notepad on my phone, but there are plenty of apps
  • Before you leave the house, do a physical check. Do you have your phone and wallet? Is the diaper bag in hand? Do you have snacks?
  • Keep a small travel bag in the car with extra toys, outfits, and snacks, for when you forget the diaper bag despite best intentions.
  • Keep cash in the car. If you’re like me, constantly forgetting credit cards, it can be a great idea to have cash hidden in an envelope somewhere. Keep it in the glovebox where it is out of sight, but won’t get lost.
  • Once at the store, keep your child distracted with games and conversation. Hallie and I like to point out different items that we see, and I talk to her about what I’m looking for. This helps me stay focused and not forget the item that I came to the store for.

Taking just a few extra moments before you leave will help make sure you have everything packed, even for a short trip to the store. Having the right snacks and drinks on hand will make a grocery trip run smoothly, without tantrums hopefully.  I get really irritated when I have to buy Hallie an outfit that she really doesn’t need, or drop dollars on the expensive wipes because I didn’t realize I had run out of the brand I like. Practice makes perfect. You’ll get better at this eventually, right? I mean, who really needs to wear a bra to the grocery store? Don’t sweat the non-essentials, because as long as you keep track of your kid, it’s considered a win.