I was walking through Target recently, engaging in my second favorite activity, retail therapy when I wandered into the baby section. As I walked up and down the aisles I came to a stark and sudden realization – there was nothing I needed to buy.
I briefly noticed it on our last trip. The amount of “baby stuff” had greatly reduced. As I was updating our packing list for our upcoming trip I realized how much the special “kids” list had shrunk.
Not to say that some gear isn’t needed. Obviously car seats are needed anytime you plan to drive at your destination (which is almost always). We still take the umbrella stroller for my daughter. But my independent (now two year old) wants to walk more often. The Ergo mostly collects dust at this point unless we are hiking (like in Yellowstone this summer).
Eating gear is not even needed anymore. My daughter drinks out of a regular cup like a pro. I never bring a sippy cup in my day bag anymore. We brought snack cups on the last trip, but mostly because the kids like them, not because they need them. Both kids use normal utensils just fine, and can eat right off the menu so no bottles, bowls or special foods are needed (unless you count the supply of goldfish I always have on me).
Thankful each has a small, transportable lovey, so no blankets or sleep sacks. My daughter is now in a bed and shares one with her brother in hotels, so no more cribs or pack and plays.
And the big feat, the one that has changed our lives and forever reduced my baggage: my daughter is now potty trained. We started young (22 months) but the reward is now we can confidently go out without fear of accidents. She still use a pull up at night, but they are rarely dirty. I no longer have changing mats, wipes, diaper cream, etc. This has reduced my bag from a large carry-all the weight of a bowling bag to a small(er) bag where the majority of the content is mine.
Sure, my bag still always has snacks, anti bacterial wet wipes, and the occasional Thomas train or Little Person. But that’s it. No bibs, burp cloths, nursing covers, diapers, outfit changes, baby food, bottles, etc. It’s like I’ve lost 10 lbs of stuff.
Its bittersweet. I always loved researching and using the latest contraption claiming to make life with baby easier. Now, when I look at my light, mostly empty bag, I realize it means my babies are not babies anymore. While I’m loving the new found independence of my kids, I miss the warm snuggles when they were in a carrier, and that loving weight that came with a baby dead asleep on you. I miss the convenience of my children both sitting and staying in a stroller, meaning I knew where they were at all times. And, believe it or not, sometimes I even miss diapers, especially when my little girl wants to go, multiple times, in a series of suspect public toilets.
But I do love the newfound freedom and independence. I never have to have a diaper bag ready to go. Anyplace is a playground to my kids to walk and stretch their legs, even the grocery store. Now my children interact. We can go to the Exploritorium and they will play with every exhibit. At the farmers market they help pick out the veggies and fruit. When traveling they ask for and explore new playgrounds and places. In Yellowstone we couldn’t keep my son off the rocks. We are talking now about India and getting them excited for what they will see and do when we go.
I knew this day would come, where I was no longer traveling with babies or toddlers, but actual full fledged kids. I’m excited to be closer to the later than the former. Now the sense of adventure and love of travel I’m trying to instill can take hold. And then the fun really begins!