After my healthy pregnancy and the birth of my 6 month old son, I realized how fortunate I was, and am, to have a health baby boy. I met women at my Isis Parenting New Moms Group who had a hard time conceiving and carrying their babies.  They were women like me and I realized that it can happen to anyone at anytime. Since they had great care, they were in the class with their healthy and happy newborns.

So when I had the opportunity to walk with the Isis team to support the March of Dimes March for Babies, I immediately signed up to raise funds and awareness for this cause.  A few days later, a friend, editor and founder of Boston Mamas, Christine Koh, also announced her team.  As a huge fan of her work with the March of Dimes and all things Mama related, I decided to join her team as well.

I am really looking forward to this walk, and I am grateful for the support of friends that have sponsored me so far.  However, it is a walk that I need to physically prepare for as well. While it may not need as much preparation as the marathons I have run, it does need planning. Especially if I am going to bring my son along for the walk.  (Or in his case, the ride!)

So, I would like to share these 10 tips that should help anyone have the best experience possible.

(1) Water. Drink water before you leave the house so you are well hydrated, but bring some with you as well. A 20oz water bottle that you can throw away/recycle is enough. While most events have water available, don’t rely on it.  I have been at walks/races where the water, for whatever reason, did not arrive or was gone before I got there. If you are bringing a child with you, make sure you bring water for them as well.

(2) Timing. Allow enough time to get to the event.  Large events, especially in the city, require extra time. From traffic, parking, registering, and navigating yourself through thousands of people, you don’t want to be parallel parking in Chinatown when the walk is beginning 2 miles away. I know it takes extra time to get out the door with a child in tow, so pretend that the registration starts at 10:30am (the actual start time is 11:30am). By having the earlier mindset, you can schedule your morning accordingly, which will allow for unexpected snafus.  If you arrive early, it will give you time to take a breather or allow your child to run around and burn off energy.

(2) Hand Sanitizer Wipe(s). Buy a pack of individually packaged hand sanitizer wipes. Grab one and throw it in your bag, a pocket in your shorts or even your bra. Let’s face it, we probably will be visiting the porta-potty at some point, especially if walking with a little one! Having the hand sanitizer wipe, post-potty visit, will make it a little ‘cleaner’.  I would even suggest bringing a pack of tissues. Other than the obvious need for children’s runny noses, it can also serve as toilet paper. Because like the water mentioned above, don’t expect it to be there when you need it.

(3) Trash Bag. Bringing a big black trash bag is the perfect accessory.  First, it is a mat you can sit on, especially if the ground is cold, muddy or wet. Running/Walking events don’t often have chairs so you’ll have to “cop a squat” on any surface you find (and it may not be a great surface). Second, it is a great windbreaker. Depending on the event, the crowds and the weather, it may be awhile before it starts. You could be shivering, getting wet from the rain or frying in the sun. Punch a hole in the top and slip it over your head. You won’t win fashion awards, but it does cut the wind, rain and sun. When you don’t need it anymore, you can toss it, rather than lugging around windbreakers or sweatshirts.  Or if you want to take it with you, it can be folded into a little square and weighs next to nothing. Though please be careful with bags around small children.

(4) Sunscreen/Hat. Even if it is overcast or cloudy, bring sunglasses, a hat and/or sunscreen. Put the sunscreen on before you leave the house and bring some with you. The sunscreen will not effectively last the entire registration/walk/post-event activities so you will need to reapply at some point.  A hat will also cut down on the sun’s rays and serve as a cover for rainy mist too. Don’t forget the babies and children if they are coming with you! I love the sunscreen wipes that are on the market.  Throwing a couple in with your hand-sanitizing wipes makes it super easy to apply.

(5) Money/Identification. Make sure you have money in your pocket and identification on your number and/or stroller. I hate to be a downer, but it is always good to be prepared.  Whether you need to catch a cab or need to buy some emergency snacks, a few bills in your pocket is a good backup.  Having your name on your shirt, or a tag on the stroller, with a contact number and medical information will ensure proper care if it is needed. Even if it is not a medical emergency, you may find that your child has a complete melt-down at mile 1.25 and you need bail and head back to the car. Unless you happened to have walked in the direction of your car, you may need to hail a taxi.

(6) Old Sneakers. I always think it is obvious, but am shocked when I see bright, white (and new) sneakers on the feet of walkers/runners.  Never wear new sneakers to an race/walking event!  Unbroken-in sneakers can cause blisters, sores and muscle strain. If you need new sneakers, buy them now and wear them everywhere over the next few days to break them in. Same with any other clothing you may be wearing. That new headband you just bought may give you a headache, the new sunglasses may be pinching your nose, or the new shorts rubbing a sore spot on your thigh. After three miles of the headache, pinching and rubbing, you will not be a happy walker. So stick with your tried and true so you won’t be black and blue.

(7) Wash Cloth. This is more essential if the weather is warm, but you will be sweaty/grimy post-walk even on a cooler day. When you head back to the car, throwing some water on a dry wash cloth and wiping down your face, arms and legs will make you feel like a million bucks. Diaper wipes or something similar also does the trick if you happen to be bringing a child along.

(8) Snack Bar. Most events have some great snacks at the end. But don’t count on it. By the time you cross the finish line, the faster walkers/runners may have depleted the stock, you just don’t like the offerings or you have to be conscious of food-allergies. Having your favorite nutrition bar in the car or your bag is a great backup if you have to pass up the event offerings. Pack extra snacks for the little ones too!

(9) Well-stocked (but not huge) bag. It is tempting to bring provisions that would last you weeks to an event like this, especially if you are walking with a child.  Yet do your best to limit the load because you will be lugging it three miles. Parents know best, but don’t underestimate the entertainment factor of the music, sights and sounds that may negate the need for a pile of toys. In addition to the tips above, items like a couple of diapers and formula (if needed) are key.  A blanket to keep the chill or sun away can be essential too. It can also be draped over the stroller if you need to calm your baby.  A lovely or other soothing object can help if they feel overwhelmed with the crowd.

(10) Get Your Child Involved. If you have a child, get them involved in the event. Depending on the age of your child, you can teach them about how you are helping others, share the background of the March for Babies organization, or have them help you raise money by putting the stamp on the envelope or having a lemonade stand.  If they are coming to the event as well, have them decorate the stroller or make a special t-shirt they can wear.  Events like these can be great teaching opportunities and getting them involved in the event can make the event be fun rather than overwhelming. If they seem fearful with the crowd and the noise, reminding them of why you are there can possibly help or you can provide a distraction by having them waive the sign they made for the event.

Regardless of whether you follow the tips above or not, have a blast. Enjoy the people and the scenery. Be courteous to others around you, especially if you are pushing a stroller. Get out and walk this week to get ready for this extraordinary event for such a great cause. See you on Saturday and Go Teams!!

(Picture is my own and please note that pets are allowed at the March for Babies event, but must be on a leash and bring bags to pick up after them!)

If you would like to sponsor me or donate to my walk, please visit my post on my personal blog!

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