I never realized how much I feared leaving the house until I had my daughter. I always used to chalk it up as me being lazy. For example: I’m hungry- instead of going to the store and getting what I really want, I ordered Chinese or Thai (because those are the only two places that deliver where I live). I used to think that was just me being lazy, too lazy to get my ass in the car and drive to the story. And then I had a kid.

Isn’t that how all great stories start? Once I had a kid- it was like a 24 prep session to get ready to leave the house, and once you were out- they are like some ticking time bomb- WAITING to explode. And by explode- I mean: puke breast milk all over you at the checkout counter after grocery shopping for an hour. Poop so much it explodes all over them and the carseat minutes before you arrive at your destination, SCREAM uncontrollably and refuse to nurse or be settled in the middle of a crowded restaurant no matter WHAT you do to console them.

See what I mean? So it’s no wonder stay at home moms are like “nope!” when someone asks them to leave the house. Kids are unpredictable. But I can tell you- for a mom suffering with maternal mental health- staying inside every day- is HORRIBLE for your recovery.

You need a change of scenery in order to help heal. If you lock yourself into your home with the same thing day and day out- it’s hard to see perspective. Surrounding yourself with real life human beings can do so much to increase your mood and lighten your pounding anxiety that has been building.

So how exactly do you just “Leave the House”

Start small- go for a walk around the neighborhood for 10/15 minutes, build up to the park, or playdates, or places further from home. Or go to a friend’s home- somewhere you feel comfortable. Don’t make a huge all day affair out of leaving the house if you’ve spent the last few weeks being cooped up.

Bring reinforcements- If you’re still brand new to the mommy business, or maybe you’ve added to the brood- go somewhere WITH an extra set of hands. Mom visiting- go to a restaurant and test it out WITH someone before you have to do it on your own. It can be less daunting with company.

Pack the night before- Pack the diaper bag, ready any bottles or pump supplies you may need (if you’re not quite comfortable nursing in public or you baby is on formula), extra clothes, diapers, a change of clothes for you too maybe (trust me!) Pack it all so it’s ready to go the night before. One less excuse the day of.

Ask for help- when you’re out and a stranger asks to help with the groceries, or take the cart back for you- or help you while you’re out and about- stop thinking they’re trying to steal your baby- look them in the eyes, smile, and say “yes”. Don’t give them your baby- but give them the groceries to put on the belt, or let them entertain your little one in the cart while you pay, or let them take the cart back for you.

Small, easy, consistent steps. Did I miss any?