It happens. —The late-night wet bed or stomach flu. The backseat upset tummy. Stuck in a long line, waiting room or laundromat, thirsty and anxious with nothing to do. These universal parenting challenges aren’t convenient, but they can be managed more easily with just a little preparation.
Double sheet the bed
Purchase two waterproof mattress and crib covers, sheet savers, etc. from a baby products chain store, general merchandise store or online. Select the size that works for you – twin, toddler bed, crib, etc.
Put one waterproof mattress cover over the mattress. On top of that, add a fitted sheet, and a top sheet. That’s the base layer. Then just repeat with another small pad or full-size waterproof cover, fitted sheet, top sheet and so on. Of course, don’t ever use loose bedding for a crib. Do buy pads/covers that are soft and quiet, not rigid and crackly.
This way, when an accident happens, instead of having to change the entire sleep setup, just pull off the entire top wet set, toss into the tub, and everyone goes back to sleep.
And, of course, always keep a small washable waste basket by the bed. Even toddlers can learn to aim for that first when they’re sick.
“Air sick bags” for the car
Whether it’s motion sickness, too much of the wrong food, or the flu, having a few “air sick” bags in the car can prevent a mess. Our local airport was gracious enough to give me a handful to tuck into the back seat storage net, but these are also sold online by the name travel/air sick bags, barf/vomit bags, etc. Worth it!
Ready-to-go travel setup
For babies through teens, the travel setup is so great. In fact, I still keep my own waiting-time supplies in the car — bottled water and a book are enough now, but I used to have a full complement of items for play and passtimes when my son was young. Seasons of Parenting has given away and sold dozens of our original “Take Along Bag” just for this, but families can easily make their own.
Gather a few basics into any useful carrier: water bottle, individually wrapped snack, crayons and paper, book, whatever your child would enjoy during travel or waiting times. Make it something that isn’t available any other time so it will keep its attraction.
By about kindergarten age I think, along with other travel basics, Christopher’s kit included a few Legos he took everywhere from waiting rooms to quiet concert spaces. He learned to manage his objects, noise and space in a variety of settings and always had something fun to do.
Send your hacks-for-what-happens ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share your good idea!