Last week I had to stay out of the house all day, every day, for a week. And packing enough gear for an entire day with two not-potty-trained children is like packing for a backpacker heading out to Nepal for three months.
Each morning it took me three or four trips to the car as it heated up in the snow, to wedge bags, toys and various things in between strollers and bags of pea gravel (cold people know what this is for). For me, this is about fifty miles outside my comfort zone - my house, where all my comfort things are.
But during the week I became creative to cope with being away from the house.
~ Entertainment was found in unusual places. We looked at road maps, watched traffic lights change colour, pointed flashlights at the ceiling, studied shadows, counted cars, trucks, trains. My favourite form of entertainment was driving round and around the park to kill time. We drove very slowly and looked at the snow, the mountains in the distance and people in winter coats. Round and around and around while I sipped my drive-through coffee and enjoyed the silence with everyone fastened into their seats. Ha.
~ Last week was freezing cold - literally. One morning it was -20 degrees when we left the house. Getting from the car to a store / house / play centre was painfully slow with both kids in tow. So I created a running game. Every time I wanted out of the cold fast (because of the snow) I would tell my toddler it was time to run! Run! Run! And then we'd go for it - Matthew squealing with delight all the way.
~ I kept the car stocked with coats, hats, extra food, wipes, toys, books, paper and pens and spare plastic bags. The car was also cold enough to store some food and drink overnight. The only problem was the dire state of the interior by the end of the week - a veritable bomb site of cheerios, banana loaf crumbs and stale milk bottles.Nice.
~ We ate meals on the go. There were picnics in the car, snacks at restaurants and play centres, meals at Grandma's house, and of course - drive through. The front pocket of my diaper bag became designated for emergency treats. The mere rattle of a treat bag would stop the beginnings of a whine in its tracks.
~ The play pen saved my life on a number of occasions - it was used as a crib for naps, a place to contain Oliver at other peoples' houses, somewhere to change diapers and a place to put him among the rubble once we arrived home. Whoever invented that thing, I send you a virtual kiss.
~ Inevitably some things were left at home and items had to be improvised: Oliver wore Matthew's toddler-sized diaper when I ran out of smaller ones; Sippy cups and bottles were shared; Pants, t-shirts, socks and hats were swapped as needed.