When I first became a mother of two, I was afraid to be left alone at home with my newborn and almost three-year old. Unfortunately, I was also afraid to take them both out of the house. I have come to believe that I’m-a-rookie-again anxiety is totally normal and that my fear of outings was not unfounded: I only have so many arms.
My second-baby-having local friends and I established an arsenal of fenced-in playgrounds that were our safe spaces. While fenced in, our older children could not wander off too far while we were stuck on a bench nursing the baby or changing a diaper.
Today, Stef from Ask A Nanny suggested another safe place for taking two kids: the library. I asked her for the hows and whys, and here’s what she said.
As a longtime nanny, cavorting about on my own with two kids as a job is a no-brainer; I am ready for anything. I am professional, prepared and chipper! At home, however, when the kids are my own, it’s another story. I’m tired from working all week; I am annoyed that “sleeping in” is the same as my “getting up early”; and I lost my coffee somewhere in the house again ”“ so we need to get OUT!
I love going to the library with my oldest. At four years old, he’s very curious about all sorts of things like rain-forests, sharks, dinosaurs, and poop. But today was my six month old’s first visit to the library. I couldn’t wait to see what on the board book shelf brought a grin to his face: a hungry caterpillar? A carrot that wouldn’t grow? Maybe some busy penguins? Nope, it was babies eating, of course!
Tips for going to the library with a baby and a big kid:
- Find the best library. If there is a library near you with a totally separate children’s section, go there ”“ your toddler will wander and climb things. In the kids’ section, you can blend in.
- Go at lunchtime. When you have a baby with you, the fewer big kids there, the better. For us this meant it was safe enough for me to peel off my youngest and set him up on a blanket in the baby section. Then I could scout out some books for my oldest without worrying a 6-year old would come running by.
- Bring a stroller. I, unfortunately, had forgotten to load it into the trunk, so it was a good thing I had the the Ergo (yes, along with the 2 tons of books and the diaper backpack, all somehow attached to me).
- Drop off your returns outside (if you can) where you can be loud about it, because 2 tons of books being returned one by one by a 3 year old can a) take a while and b) get a bit noisy.
- Limit the number of board books you check out. Those buggers are heavy!
- Sit, read to your babies, and enjoy the powerfully calming atmosphere of the library.
I knew it was time for us to leave when more kids began to filter in, so I strapped the baby back onto my body and hauled our pile of what seemed like 40 lbs of books over to the self check out and patiently waited (i.e. bounced around the now unraveling 6 month old) for my oldest to scan each book. We then headed home, where amidst the drama of preschooler hunger pangs, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel: I find it ”“ my coffee ”“ in the microwave, right where I had left it.
Stef is the expert nanny behind the parenting advice website AskaNanny.com, where questions about your zero to three-year old get answered for free. She lives in San Francisco with her hardworking, loving, and very supportive husband (who is also her editor) and her two angelic children.