How to NOT leave the house with a newborn.
August 26, 2009

An aspect of motherhood that I stupidly, BLINDLY did not foresee was this: going anywhere requires divine intervention.  As it turns out, people have packed for and ascended Mt. Everest in less time than it takes me to assemble the diaper bag.

Seriously, until I had a baby, I had no idea how FREAKING AWESOME it is to get out of the house.  If I step outside for long enough to get the mail, I feel so fucking proud of myself that you’d think I’d just run the Boston Marathon.  Stepping through the front door is orgasmic, NEVER MIND actually going somewhere.

Which is good because I don’t have enough miracles in my private stash to actually get out.

And trust me, it takes a miracle.

First, I have to get showered and dressed.  And not only does this take energy, which I’m a little low on these days, but it also takes time.  And time is a rare commodity around these parts.  Time is that thing that people without children are intimately acquainted with.  Time is that thing that I did not know I had…until it was gone.

Then, there’s the diaper bag.  Packing that diaper bag is akin to a rocket launch.  I actually talk to myself – OUT LOUD LIKE A CRAZY PERSON – while I pack the diaper bag because it is THAT complicated.  And even talking to myself, I always forget something vital.

Like a wet bag.  Last week, little Miss Smug Sarah Smuggerton?  Who went on and on about the benefits of cloth diapering to a fellow mother who made the mistake of pretending to be interested?  FORGOT A WET BAG.  I packed a nail file on the off chance that I might want to take care of those daggers called baby fingernails, but I forgot a wet bag.

It was a very stinky car ride home, let me tell you.

And if I manage to actually get showered AND get dressed AND get the diaper bag packed, there are other obstacles.  Like finding my purse and my keys.  And when I find my purse and keys, it’ll dawn on me that walking around in a nursing bra does not qualify as fully dressed.  But as soon as I put on a shirt, my baby will wake up and want to nurse, so the shirt will come back off, which is just as well because I probably forgot to put on deodorant anyway.  After nursing, she’ll need to be changed, and after I change her diaper, I’ll realize I never brushed my teeth.

So then I’ll brush my teeth and put on deodorant and re-locate my shirt, and I’ll be all OKAY, BABY, HERE WE GO.

Which is when I’ll realize that I’m three hours late and the bank is closed now.  Yes, folks, THAT’S RIGHT, I just devoted three hours of my life to the cause of NOT going anywhere.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the words “getting out” have been permanently deleted from my vocabulary.  And that, well, that calls for ice cream.

Welcome to new motherhood.  Where we toast our lack of accomplishment with chocolate chips and caramel topping.

*** Thank you again to everybody who has commented and sent e-mails with congratulations and best wishes.  I am still trying to get back to everyone; it may take awhile longer, but please know that it is all still very much appreciated!!

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  1. By on August 26, 2009

    Hi Sarah!  Congrats on Charlotte, she is a cutie!  I’m curious about the cloth diapers you guys are using.  Are you going with the gDiapers and if so, what do you think about them?  Would love a diaper post if you get a chance.  I’m not even pregnant yet but am fascinated and overwhelmed by the diaper choices out there.  We’re definitely leaning towards cloth and are interested in some feedback about them.

  2. By kbreints on August 26, 2009

    oh yeah—don’t feel bad… seriously.. before I had kids I was ALWAYS on time. Afterwards? Not so much.

  3. By on August 26, 2009

    After I had my first child I realized why lions go for the animals with young. Because we can’t M.O.V.E.

  4. By C @ Kid Things on August 26, 2009

    Try getting out of the house with 3 kids. The logistics are a nightmare.

  5. By on August 26, 2009

    It’s funny cause it’s true!

  6. By aimee @ smilingmama on August 26, 2009

    Oh this is so true!! I eventually started keeping some various extras in the car (a critical one being an extra shirt for me!) which was a big help.

  7. By Megan R. on August 26, 2009

    OMG…you just summed up my recent reality!  I have gone to Target and CVS now on my own with baby.  And, let me tell you…it is hard to time it out so it can happen…and then it is scary while you are actually out doing it!  So much planning.  So much that can go wrong while you are out!  And, I hear you on the mail thing.  I have gotten the mail once this week.  And, the mailbox is right outside the front door!  Time is precious and extremely limited.  Thinking about that…better get my ass in the shower while the wee one is sleeping or the shower won’t happen today!

  8. By Natalie on August 26, 2009

    Oh my god I have that SAME problem and I’m freaking miserable about it. I have an appointment with the baby at noon today and need to start getting ready in abuot 20 minutes to make sure I’m on time…

  9. By gretchen from lifenut on August 26, 2009

    Some thoughts:  Keep the diaper bag in the car, always, always, always. If you use some diapers or anything else while you are out, put replacements with your keys near the door so you can grab them on your way out again. Do this IMMEDIATELY upon returning home.

    I use the long skinny plastic bags the newspaper comes in to store dirty diapers. I keep a stash of those in the car. Handy.

    My mom-of-7 diaper bag includes diapers (usually 3, more if we’ll be gone all day), wipes, a flannel receiving blanket (serves a zillion purposes), infant Tylenol, a small tube of bum cream, breast pads…and that’s about it! Everything else is unnecessary dead weight, really.

    Make the car your nursery annex! Too bad you can’t install a little sink in there, too. Think of all the grooming you could get done.

  10. By Elizabeth Mackey on August 26, 2009

    Just eep telling yourself “ And this too shall pass!“ I remembered my first day with my newborn daughter, wondering how the hell I was going to take a shower?? The thought of her crying if I was half way done, was unbearable!

  11. By on August 26, 2009

    It gets easier. You get used to it. The day will come when you have a chance to run out alone and you will feel naked without your baby… and so freeee without all the stuff that goes with baby.

  12. By Tabitha (From Single to Married) on August 26, 2009

    You know I love your blog but I may just have to stop reading now because I’m starting to get afraid.  Just kidding…  but it has been very eye-opening because these are things that you don’t think about at four months pregnant.  :)

  13. By erin on August 26, 2009

    Oh Lord, you just summed up EXACTLY what I have been telling Brian for weeks.  He wonders why I never get anything done during the day and I’m all, You have NO IDEA how difficult it is to go across the street to get the mail, let alone grocery shop.

    I am also wanting a cloth diapering post.

    I keep a stash of wet bags in the trunk of my car.  Usually they are leftover produce bags from the grocery store, the ones that had apples or oranges or potatoes or something in them (not the wet stuff like broccoli or lettuce).  When I am low on wet bags, I leave my cloth bags in the car and let the grocery people give me plastic so I can refill my stash.

    Just wait until you try to take a trip with the baby.  I used to wonder at those parents who hauled along everything but the kitchen sink.  Now I think, Oh my God HOW could I live without all this crap for even one day??

  14. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on August 26, 2009

    Okay, brilliant masterminds, the plastic bag thing is GENIUS.  I don’t know why that never occurred to me…

    Also, I’m trying to get the cloth diaper post up, it’s just that I wanted to include pictures with it and Charlotte was sick earlier this week - she had a bad reaction to my antibiotics - so we haven’t taken them yet.  I’ll try to take care of that this week or early next week!  And I’ll try to separate the post on pocket diapers from the post on gDiapers, but no guarantees lol.

  15. By Monica on August 26, 2009

    LOL, yep, that’s new motherhood.  You’ll eventually work up the confidence to leave the house WITH NO DIAPER BAG AT ALL!!!  Sometimes it’s disastrous, ok, usually it’s disastrous, but at least you get out the door.  :-) 
    Here’s my new mom shower tip- rather than showering while baby is napping, hang just a clear shower curtain liner and pop your baby in the baby bouncy chair and let her watch you shower.  I know it’s absurd, but my son loved this when he was a baby.  I talked to him and told him the names for the parts I was washing, etc, and I got in a shower without wasting any precious baby nap time.  I hope that helps!

  16. By Monica on August 26, 2009

    Also, don’t let this happen to you:

  17. By April on August 26, 2009

    sometime in the next couple of weeks you’ll figure out the following:

    1. showering isn’t SO important

    2. it’s ok to throw an extra diaper and a wet bag in your purse and go


    3. sometimes, halfway into an excursion, you just need to go home.  and that’s totally ok.

    p.s. it’s really helpful if you pack an emergency basket in your car with diapers, wipes, an extra onesie, blanket ziplocs, etc.  then you’re only as far as the parking lot from your gear if you need it :-)  just don’t forget to update it and have her end up in a nb diaper and onesie when she’s six months…. i’m totally not talking from experience or anything.

  18. By Laura on August 26, 2009

    Oh dear lord. Don’t even get me started. I HATE LEAVING THE HOUSE!!!

  19. By lceel on August 26, 2009

    I was gonna say something about the benefits of planning ahead - but everyone else has pretty much said it all.  Pre-packing a diaper bag is an excellent idea.  Keep it in the car or in the front closet - ready to go at a moments notice..  I know someone said showering isn’t all that important - and it isn’t - but never, NEVER Febreeze your underarms, thinking that’ll freshen them up.  just don’t do it.

    This is quite an adventure you’re on.  It’s going to last years.  So relax and enjoy it.  it will be over quicker than you think - baby will grow up and be out of the house before you can say Jack Robinson - several million times.

  20. By bethany actually on August 26, 2009

    It will get better. You are still VERY much in the trenches of New Parenthood. :-) Charlotte will get older and a bit less demanding, and you’ll get used to planning an extra hour into your schedule when you need to leave the house.

  21. By Elizabeth on August 26, 2009

    As time goes on you will even leave the house unshowered… orrrr… maybe, that’s just me ;P

  22. By Restless Mama on August 26, 2009

    I’m feeling you on this. 

    I still take at least an hour to get ready.  It sucks where it only took 15 minutes preBambino.

    Keep on truckin’ lady!


  23. By Veronica on August 26, 2009

    I keep most of what I need to leave the house in the car or the bottom of the pram. Means that I always have nappies, wipes and spare clothes available just in case, even if I forget them as I walk out the door.

    Aside from that, yeah, getting out of the house is an undertaking and a half. We’ve got to go to the supermarket today and Amy is still nude, I haven’t showered, Isaac is napping still in his PJ’s and bleh. Still, we need food.

  24. By Rebecca on August 26, 2009

    Dude, you just described my life the first few months!  It does get better, but only because she will eventually eat less often and you will just get better through practice.

    But let me tell ya, there is NO SHAME in making an actual paper list of everything you need for the diaper bag, and checking it before you leave the house.  I try to keep the bag packed as much as possible, but of course there are always things I have to toss in at the last minute.

    As for getting ready, I HAD to take a shower every day, but I got very, very good at taking them in 3 minutes or less, sometimes while Nicholas lay on the bath mat.  (He only slept in 20-30 minute stretches until he was 8 weeks old, so it wasn’t easy to do everything while he napped.)  And I lowered my standards for what constituted “ready”.  Deodorant, yes.  Makeup, no.  Hair combed?  Yes.  Dried and styled?  Probably not!

  25. By tracey on August 26, 2009

    You WILL figure this out. Trust me. It gets easier.

    Take this bit of advice: Don’t worry about the shower. Really. Use a baby wipe in the pits and crevices, slap on a hat and GO. If the bag and baby are ready, then don’t worry about yourself. It is NOT IMPORTANT. People will forgive you.

    Also? Go to your car RIGHT NOW with several plastic bags for dirty diapers,  extra clean diapers (at least 1 or 2) and a change of clothes for both of you (even if it’s just sweats and t-shirts). This will inevitably save your ass at least once.

    You don’t want to know how many times I’ve wanted to kiss myself for the spare clothes in my car. And I STILL have extra diapers in my van, though my youngest has been potty-trained for 2 years!

  26. By Julia Brown on August 26, 2009

    I agree with many of the above - it’s all about having stuff in the car.  I barely pack anything when we go out.  We have separate toys and everything that belong in the car.  Now I pretty much just grab the boy, his shoes, and maybe a banana (and we’re still late everywhere). 

    I also take the phrase “stay-at-home mom” quite literally though :).

  27. By Stephanie on August 27, 2009

    OH MY LORD do I know what you mean. I am so proud of myself when I can get it together and actually make it somewhere within 1 1/2 hours of the time I was supposed to be there. Checking the mail is like…the biggest high. Going anywhere is a high. I know I sound like a nutjob who never leaves, but Jazz and I usually stay home, see family, or go to work. Sooooo, yes, I understand.

  28. By on August 27, 2009

    Just wait until the potty training starts.They have to poop every single time you are in a hurry to leave.

  29. By Trenches of Mommyhood on August 27, 2009

    I think you just wrote your very own version of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”!

    (And don’t worry, by the time you have your third, a diaper bag will no longer be necessary.  You’ll just cram the gear into your inadequate-sized purse and make do.)

  30. By tracy on August 27, 2009

    it gets easier, I promise :)

  31. By Stephanie on August 28, 2009

    Thank you for posting this. I totally forgot what it was like at this stage. In a month and a half, I’ll have TWO kids to worry about getting ready to get out of the house!!!

    I can never find my keys and purse anyways, so I think this post has inspired me to go home and put a hook on the wall behind the front door FOR my purse and keys FOR such future events as you have described. :)

    It’ll get a bit easier for you to get out, one day… once you’ve had lots of practice. :)

  32. By red pen mama on August 31, 2009

    Yeah, I wrote about this recently, about how “running out the door” becomes a study in logistics.

    I think a couple of people already mentioned this but: shower? You don’t need a shower to run to the bank. or Target. or the grocery store. Believe me, people will understand. Now the night the three of you want to have dinner outside of the house, that will call for a shower.

    It gets a little better as they get older. At some point your children will start packing their own toy/snack bags. Trust me.


  33. By Jinxy @ Jinxyisms on September 06, 2009

    Before I had Lily I thought people were crazy that it was hard to get out of the house with a baby.  Boy was I stupid! 

    I wish I could shower before I left the house, I gave up on that little ritual.  A few other things I did to make my life easier.  I don’t wear make up anymore, I always have the diaper bag packed with extra cloth diapers and a wet bag, and I don’t carry a purse, everything is in the diaper bag.





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