One of my favourite books for dads is Commando Dad by Neil Sinclair (commandodad.com). It takes some all-around good parenting advice for fathers staying at home with young children (especially on things like diapers, travel readiness, dressing, and safety), and then presents it in the format of a military training manual – full of asides, mnemonic devices, rules on how to make good guesstimates, etc.
Commando Dad was one of the first parenting books I read, and a lot of it stuck with me. To this day, I still find myself reciting “Preparation Prevents Poor Parenting Performance” when planning for long car trips or unusual outings.
One of the most helpful resources I have taken out of Commando Dad concerns the “Commando Dad Bag” – a very well-stocked diaper bag that helps ensure that you are ready for things that are a lot more varied than dirty diapers.
I actually took the military metaphor a little farther than Neil Sincliar does, I actually purchased a tactical backpack with a number of external pockets, exterior straps and internal dividers to which I have attached a few other items by way of straps, zip ties, and dollar store dog collars.
The fact of the matter is that a well-stocked bag to meet your kids needs can take a hell of a lot of the frustration out of parenting on the go. And if it is organized so that you can find anything in less than three seconds, then that is even better.
My “Commando Dad” bag includes:
A portable change pad.
Dog waste bags for messy diapers.
All-over cleaning wipes (there’s no point in using bum wipes that might not be sanitary for hands and faces once thye are toddlers).
- Four daytime diapers
- One nighttime diaper
- Soother and clip
- Bottle of water
- Pouches of pureed fruit and vegetables
- Granola bars
- Monkey Mat (A nylon picnic blanket with weighted corners and a carrying pouch)
- A first aid kit with scissors, gauze, surgical tape, bandaids, antiseptic, kid’s tylenol, sterilized eyedropper, cotton sabs, and string.
- Indoor shoes
- A change of pants
- Zip-loc bags
- A spare phone charger
- Colouring book and crayons
- Stuffed animal
- Toy helicopter
- Clothing patch with adhesive
- Receiving blanket (handy for emergency cleanup or as a towel)
- Spare Aa and AAA batteries.
I can feel pretty secure that I can handle most cuts and scrapes, hygeine emergencies, long waits, or emotional meltdowns that a two-year old can throw at me. I have to dig for none of them – each item has an easily-accessible place and arrangement. (The contents grow and change with the kid, of course.)
So long as I can keep that bag stocked and up to date, I can pick up and go to handle an emergency or just a fun day out with minimal fuss.
In my years of running a small business I have also found it is equally useful to have a “Mobile Office” bag that works similarly for my business. My mobile office is a robust courier back with one inner waterproof procket designed to keep everything I might need to run my company on hand:
- Bluetooth Keyboard
- Voice Recorder
- Olympus TP-7 phone recording microphone
- Bluetooth mic and earphone
- USB Power bank.
- One USB cord for every device I might need.
- Multiple AC to USB adapters
- HDMI out cables for my devices (when applicable)
- Cleaning cloth
- USB On The Go adapter
- USB flash drive
- Blank Notebook
- Ball-Point Pen and mechanical pencil
- Attractive business card case
- Business cards
- Breath mints
- Occasionally I keep a spare andoid phone to do a SIM card swap in a dire emergency.
This looks like a lot of material, but it weighs very little and there is a ton of room for a paperback, camera, or even a lightweight drone and radio gear left in the bag if I need it. My mobile office let me do almost everything but my taxes from my favourite coffee shop.
If you can manage to put together these two bags (adaped to your needs) and have them in easy reach of your living room, you can pick up and go in a few minutes even with the most obstinate of toddlers. Or grab them for work in your living room in the event of an unscheduled nap…
They have an added psychological effect of making you feel ready. I find that makes a big difference in how often you are willing to get out and do things spontaneously with your kids.