Taking Toddlers to the Library | 9 Tips for the Mom with Small Children

Inside: Want to take your kids to the library but feeling overwhelmed by the idea of going alone? Here are a few of my library tips for moms with small children

Library Tips for Moms
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As a mom of 4 (who are all stair-stepped), I understand that the thought of going it alone at the library can be daunting. I only have two hands, two eyes, and two ears. Meanwhile, I’m also being tugged in several different directions while also caring for an infant.

This whole “outing” thing is not for the faint of heart.

But it’s also not impossible and doesn’t have to be physically and emotionally draining.


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LiBrary TiPs for Moms

Here are the ways I keep our library trips from feeling more like Mission Impossible.

#1: Divide & Conquer (When You Can)

If you only have 1 or 2 kids, you may not even need this option. But with 3 or more (or even if you just want special time with each child when you have 2), this can be a great way to make library trips a little easier.

Whenever possible, I either take as few of my children as I can (splitting them 2-and-2) OR we go as a family. That way, my husband and I are each accountable for tending to the needs of 2 at a time.

Obviously, this isn’t always an option. But it’s great when possible.

#2: Avoid Tired Tantrums

This may seem obvious. But taking little ones on any outing when nap time is nearing can be problematic. Make the setting of that outing a LIBRARY where everything is fairly quiet, and it takes the stress level up another notch. Or 12.

0/10, do not recommend…

So we always either do early morning trips or post-nap afternoon trips.

#3: Wrap, Wrap, Wrap

Moby Wrap -- Library Tips
You can tell by the “extras” on it that this Moby is used and snuggled in often! #reallife

I could probably write a love poem to my Moby wrap.

It makes life SO much easier. Especially when I’m the only adult with all the kids. I honestly don’t think it would even be possible for me to go on a library trip with all of them if I wasn’t able to wrap our youngest.

We’ve had a few different carriers, but this Moby has been my favorite by far. He’s nice and snug, and my back has the support it needs (if I wrap it right).

I’ve also heard great things about ring slings but have never tried one personally.

#4: Keep it Comfy

I mean this in every possible way: make sure that everyone is as comfortable as possible when going on a library trip.

Kids in comfy clothes ✔ 
Momma in comfy clothes (and breathable clothes, if you’re wrapping a little one!) ✔
Carrying as little things as possible ✔

Lounging & Reading -- Library Tips
When my kids are comfy, the library is a more enjoyable experience for all of us.

I don’t even bring in a diaper bag. Or a wallet. I now carry my driver’s license in my back pocket, and our library cards are on my keychain.

But not bringing in a diaper bag leads me to this next tip…

#5: Plan Ahead

If you’re not going to be bringing everything but the kitchen sink from home, you have to be prepared. Diapers are changed. Baby has been fed. And all preparations have been made for this to be a smooth trip.

Taking my kids to the library does NOT have to be an all-day affair. I used to idolize this sweet little dream world in my head where we would spend hours at the library reading books and learning together.

But the reading and learning happen much more smoothly at home or outside.

Now our library trips are in and out. We pick the books, we check them out, we exit.

#6: Pack a Snack

Healthy Snack -- Library Tips

This is a tip for pretty much anywhere we go. I always have a snack ready. Or we eat one before we leave the house.

Of course, we don’t bring food into the library. But it can be fun to have a “car picnic” before we go in to make sure that no one will be peckish. OR you can use it as part of your exit strategy (which we’ll talk more about in a minute)!

#7: Have Your Card Ready

Like I mentioned, all of our library cards are on my key ring, so all I have to do is whip my keys out of my pocket to check our books out. But if you don’t have key ring library cards, make sure to shove them into your pocket so that they’re easily accessible.

Especially if you’re leaving your wallet at home… it would be unfortunate to forget the library cards inside.

#8: Exit Strategy

EXIT. STRATEGY. This isn’t as important with my two oldest or with my youngest (considering he’s just along for the ride), but when kids are between the ages of 1 and 3, there usually needs to be some sort of plan for ending any fun activity.

As mentioned above, you can plan your “car picnic” for AFTER your library excursion, that way your little one has something fun to look forward to that you can remind them of when it’s time to leave.

Bike Ride Exit Strategy -- Library Tips
Heading outside after a library trip is always a good option

Or maybe after library trips, you can go to the park to read the new books you picked out. Or have something special planned at home (like baking cookies or doing a craft) that can help ease the transition.

“Okay, if you’re all done picking books, we can go home and bake our yummy cookies now!”

#9: Relax & Have Fun

When we’re uptight, it makes the whole situation a lot less enjoyable for everyone.

Why do we take our kids to the library? For me, it’s because I want to foster their love of reading at a young age. I want them to be able to explore books and have fun doing it. But if I’m stressed every time we go to the library, it’s going to affect how they view it.

What memories do I want them to have of the library? Even though, like I said, we don’t spend copious amounts of time while we’re there, I still want the time that we do spend in the library to be enjoyable and as relaxed as possible.

So yes, have a plan, keep it structured, make the transitions smooth, and be efficient. But let’s face it, it won’t always go the way we plan. Sometimes there are off days.

Even then, let’s remember to embrace this time with our kids. because just like with everything else in parenting, this too shall pass. The day will come when there won’t be any more library trips or park visits or car picnics.

Kids Reading Outside -- Library Tips

And when that day comes, I don’t want to look back with regret, wishing I had enjoyed it more or done it more often. I want to look back on this time as childhood well-spent.

What are some ways you make sure your library trips go smoothly? Leave them in the comments below!

Until next time,

Audriana

What Gentle Parenting Does and Does NOT Look Like in Our Home

Inside: You may have heard of “gentle parenting.” Each person’s view of GP may vary, but this is how we use gentle parenting in our home.

What Gentle Parenting Looks Like in Our Home

There seems to be a stigma surrounding gentle parenting, or GP. But like most things, GP isn’t all bad.

The word “gentle” in and of itself can make us think of passivity. And sure, there are those who take it too far and turn it into permissive parenting. But that’s not what it HAS to look like.

Gentle Parenting: What it Means For Us

For our family, gentle parenting was an answer to a festering problem. You can read more about the lead-up on my other blog by following this link.

In our home, the act of parenting gently isn’t about giving in, letting our kids run our house, or allowing them to nearly get away with murder. Instead, it’s about mercy, empathy, discipleship, and yes, teaching them to follow rules given by authority.

Gentle Parenting - Mom of 4

Mercy

Even though I can never come close to God’s goodness, I pray to be even fractionally as merciful as He is. If it wasn’t for His mercy, where would I be? Even on my best days, I’m in desperate need of it. I miss the mark. So I run to my Savior. Thankfully, my Father never turns me away.

Let’s face it, when our kids break the rules or expectations aren’t met, we can get angry. We can lose our cool. Our patience slips.

But my goal is to stop holding my kids to a higher standard than I hold myself to. If there is mercy for my mistakes, there’s mercy for theirs. If I, as an adult, fail every day, how much more will they?

Does mercy say it doesn’t matter? Just keep messing up? Choose not to care?

No. Mercy says, “you’re forgiven. And you’re still loved.” And because of it, we’re extended the grace to move on and do better next time.

So in this family, there’s mercy.

Empathizing & understanding

There’s also a listening ear who understands. Because I’m just as human as they are, and when I mess up, it always helps to have someone by my side instead of over my head. Empathy and understanding solidify our family bonds while giving our kids support.

Empathy says, “yeah, I’ve been there. You’re not too far gone. Not worse than anyone else. But we should go this way instead.” It gets down in the thick of it with our kids so that discipleship (my next point) is possible.

Gentle Parenting in Our Home

Discipleship

It’s the way we train them up. And it’s something my husband and I learn more about all the time.

Discipleship isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience and choosing to keep connection unbroken so that correction is more easily accepted (instead of rebelled against). It may look a little different for every family, but the basic gist is the same. Through discipleship we lead, train, edify, and correct our children.

Rules with Natural & Logical Consequences

Yes, there are rules in our home. Especially when kids are young, structure is important.

For rules to be more effective, there needs to be some form of consequences.

This is a debate within the Gentle Parenting community. There will be many who disagree with me, but my desire to parent my children with kindness does not mean that there won’t be consequences when poor choices are made. Since my goal is to prepare them for life in this world, I have to teach them about consequences (both positive and negative) for their actions.

In our home, we use both natural and logical consequences when our kids make poor choices.

Gentle Parenting in Our Home

Natural Consequences

Natural consequences are things that we, as parents, don’t come up with. They naturally arise from whatever choice was made.

For example, when we lie, the natural consequence is that others may question whether or not they can trust what we say.

When a natural consequence arises, we use discipleship to talk to our kids about what happened and give them opportunities to make better choices.

Logical Consequences

Logical consequences are consequences that make logical sense based on whatever poor choice was made.

So if someone chooses not to eat dinner (healthy food), they can’t have a dessert (junk food).
If they don’t clean up a mess they’ve already made, they can’t make a bigger mess by pulling out more toys.
If they break something that belongs to someone else, they need to earn money (through chores) to pay for a new one.

One thing to note when giving consequences: it’s all about the delivery.

There is a gentle way to give consequences (letting the consequence speak for itself and carry its own weight) and a not-so-gentle way (all the yelling I used to do…).

Consequences work best when thought through ahead of time, not in the heat of the moment. So think about the rules that your children normally offend, and then pair them with a natural or logical consequence that carries its own weight.

What It’s NOT

Because of the misconceptions surrounding GP, these are some of the things that it’s NOT for our family.

Passive or Permissive Parenting

When hearing the phrase “gentle parenting,” we may assume that it’s just a nicer way of saying permissive parenting. But that’s not true for all cases (although there may be some overlap, depending on the family).

If you’re interested in gentle parenting, know that it does NOT have to include passivity or permissiveness.

Gentle Parenting in Our Home

Excessive Warnings

This goes hand-in-hand with permissive parenting, but I just really want to drive it home.

While my children do get warnings, they only get one per incident. After that warning, there is a consequence. Being gentle doesn’t mean letting behavior slide, which leads me to my next point…

Inconsistent expectations

When our expectations shift–even if our heart is in the best of places while doing it–it’s actually harder on our kids.

I used to “give in” when it came to consequences because I felt like I was being more gentle. But in reality, I was confusing my children and breaking down the structure that they NEEDED in order to understand what was expected of them.

So while my heart was in a good place, it wasn’t the most loving or gentle stance to take.

Instead, giving my kids stable expectations is a gentler way of parenting them because it doesn’t keep them guessing.

Perfection

Kids Laughing - Gentle Parenting in Our Home

While we’re doing our best, gentle parenting doesn’t mean everything is perfect. We’re far from it. There are days when we rock it and other days when we miss the mark and fall into old parenting patterns.

While we learn, we’re accepting mercy and grace to continue growing together as a family.

Do you use gentle parenting practices in your home? How do they differ from ours? If not, are you considering using gentle parenting? Leave questions and comments below!

Until next time,

Audriana