Before having kids, I was hella spontaneous. Whether it was last minute dinner plans, answering a friends invite of “let’s go out!” or literally leaving brunch to hit the road and go to Vegas, I was up for it all and with very few questions. So you can only imagine the ton of bricks that hit me when I had this tiny little baby. A baby that needed bottles and diapers and wipes and extra outfits and binkys and a suitcase full of miscellaneous items for a quick trip to Target. I mean, how much stuff do I need to run errands with kids?
And it’s not just the stuff – the stuff is manageable, and you can tackle leaving the house with a bunch of kids. But you have to know where you’re going! And I’m not just talking how to get there fastest. There are a lot of things you never realized you need to consider before picking a location to take your kids. So now, I basically never leave the house without answering these six questions first.
How Long is the Drive?
This can make or break a trip somewhere. With little kids there is a huge difference between an activity 7 minutes away, an activity 27 minutes away and an activity an hour and 7 minutes away. At first blush you may think that the place an hour away is the loser, but you may also be dead wrong. An hour and seven minutes is a great drive if you’ve got kids that will sleep in the car. If you have kids that hate being in the car though? This may be your worst case scenario. Seven minutes could totally be your jam if you can play loud music and keep those kids eyeballs open until you get home. But if you’ve got one of those wonderful children that can fall asleep in 0.3 seconds but then never transfer to a bed? Stay away from the seven minute drive!
For us? That 27 minute drive is our nightmare. Long enough to fall asleep and refuse to transfer, but not long enough to count as an actual rest.Find out what time works for you and your kids – and what times don’t – and select your outings accordingly.
How Much is it Going to Cost?
Sometimes I find myself making plans with someone and taking them at their word when they say “And it’s so affordable!” Then I get there and realize they think it’s affordable because they have one kid and adults are free and holy moly I am screwed because this place doesn’t even have a sibling discount! Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice and I bust our monthly entertainment budget. So now I do my research. I’m calculating the cost for all of the kids, I’m hunting down coupons and groupons and making sure I use my eBates (which, if you don’t have, use this link, get some free cash for signing up and micro save like crazy!) to buy the Groupon and I pinch. them. pennies. But first I have to do my due diligence to budget that out!
What’s the Snack Situation?
If you’ve ever had kids, been around kids or even walked past a kid, you know that they’re rarely out of arms reach of a snack. As a person that used to end a day at work and think, “Oh my God, I forgot to eat today!,” this was a pretty big adjustment for me as a Mom. Now I need to be ready at any moment for one of my kids to request a snack to give their endless energy a little bump. Depending on where we’re going I either have a bag full of snacks or a mental map to the nearest snack shack. Warning: Not all snacks are priced the same. Some places have outrageous prices on food while others can be surprisingly affordable. So whether you BYOSnacks, budget to buy, or use some mad eating out coupons and hacks, do your research and make a plan.
What’s the Bathroom Set-up?
Follow-up questions include: Can I fit all three of us in a giant room or stall? How far are they from the action if my kids don’t want to come with me? Are there decent changing stations? Is it the kind of place I should bring my own Purell? The answers to these once innocuous questions may determine the very fate of it’s existence in our lives. Because with three kids at various stages of diapery and potty training, I’m spending a decent amount of time in bathrooms.
Do We Need Socks?
You would be amazed at how many places have very particular rules or recommendations regarding what your kid wears. And it can all be terribly confusing when you’re getting used to it.
Now that I’m a veteran at this Mom game, I know that at Frogg’s Bounce House kids need socks and long pants are recommended – and adults need socks too, unless you’re pregnant. I know that you may think they need socks at the YMCA for tumbling but bare feet are preferred. I almost always remember that my kids need closed toed shoes to be in the kids club at the YMCA. I even know that babies need socks or shoes if you’re going to take them on the Astro Orbiter at Disneyland – which is pretty much the only ride there I have ever heard announce a footwear policy.
But for a long time I’d frantically text someone – usually Jaymi – right before going somewhere asking “DO I NEED SOCKS????” I never pictured myself living a life where this is a question I would ask regularly, but here we are.
Do they Have Wi-Fi?
There’s a reason Jaymi and I switched Chick-fil-A’s people, and it isn’t just because at one location we get free food for a year. Even once our chicken runs out in November we’ll be sticking with our new location, and we’d be lying if we said the Wi-Fi wasn’t a major factor. Look, we’re not totally tied to our phones, but we make plans with Mommy friends using messenger, send pictures to Daddy while he’s at work, and videos to grandmas that “never see the kids.” (I’m looking at you Mom, and by the way, you saw them three days ago). All those things use sweet, sweet data. Unless you’re at a place that has free Wi-Fi.
So there you have it folks. Now get out there ad go fun places with your kids! Well, after you do some light research that is.