Out and About with Baby

Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC

JULY 09, 2018


Remember when running to the drugstore, picking up the dry cleaning and stopping at the grocery store were simple tasks that you could easily manage in one outing without even thinking about it? Yes, that would have been in your previous life, the life you led before you became the parent of an infant. My, how things have changed …

It comes up in the moms groups I lead pretty regularly. The jarring reality about how these seemingly simple errands suddenly take on a new enormity when trying to accomplish them with a newborn in tow. While many parents may have heard from friends how life changes when you have a baby, and may have prepared for that change at least intellectually, it is quite different to experience that reality in the day to day of running routine errands.

For example, you’ve fed your baby, gotten him/her dressed and managed to get yourself dressed as well. You’ve got everything you think you may need in your diaper bag, including:

  • Extra diapers and wipes
  • Spit up cloth(s)
  • A change of clothes for baby
  • A clean T-shirt for you
  • An extra pacifier or two (if your baby uses them)
  • An extra bottle or cover up if you’re comfortable at this point breastfeeding outside the safety of your home
  • Your wallet, which includes your ID, cash and/or bank card or credit card

So you've got your diaper bag and whatever else you’ve personally found to be essential, and you're in the car. Baby is securely strapped in their car seat and you are ready to roll. Just as you grab your keys, you hear it … the sound of baby moving his bowels.

STOP. Your trip is delayed, and now requires releasing baby from said car seat, and the process of a diaper change. This might be quick and easy if you are lucky, but it could also mean that in addition to a new diaper, baby now also needs a bath (that’s if you’re not so lucky, and there will be at least one time, as a parent of a newborn, that diaper change and bath go hand in hand).

All this is to say, that it might be a full hour later before you are ready to grab your keys and head out the door again, by which time, it may be time for baby to eat.

For those readers whose baby is already here, this is a familiar scenario. For those who are still pregnant, this is an insight into what’s to come, and a gentle suggestion to try not and get too worked up about it. One of the biggest adjustments new parents describe is getting used to the fact that you are no longer solely in charge of your time.

This is a temporary reality in living with a newborn. As babies grow, schedules become more predictable and time becomes more manageable. Some parents find that errands become much sought after “me time,” and joke that a solo trip to CVS at 8 p.m. with partner at home with baby is like a trip to the spa! Others find the need to re-adjust their expectations; if accomplishing several errands in a single outing was the old norm, now one errand with baby is a mark of success. The best advice is to try not to judge yourself according to your old standards. This is a new world and new standards are in order. Go easy, and be gentle with yourself.

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