Getting Out and About With Your Multiples


The summer my twins were born, I remember that my husband and I tried so hard to get out of the house and give my older son an opportunity to run around and breathe fresh air. Sometimes we set up a pack n’ play in the shade of a tree when I wasn’t walking the babies to sleep in their stroller. Then we graduated to laying on a blanket in the shade and playing with books and toys while the park bustled around us. Suddenly, and seemingly overnight, my twins started to crawl and then walk. And once everyone was mobile, it got really interesting. The challenge is no longer as simple as getting everyone out of the house, but now it’s keeping multiple kids safe and in sight, and managing to rally the troops when it’s time to leave. Sometimes it’s as easy as avoiding the places that you know will be too difficult to take multiples, and sometimes it involves gear, distraction, planning and reinforcements.

My stroller has been my savior, and I swear I will run it into the ground. It has a sturdy canopy, which means that when I grocery shop with the kids I can buy as much as I can stack on top. Certainly double seat grocery carts can get the job done, but finding one while hauling around multiples can take time. In addition, I love that my stroller has a snack and cup tray, which usually means I avoid having food and drinks tossed on the floor. I also use the stroller or a wagon to wrangle my twins when we get out of the car and when it’s time to head home. I don’t think there will ever be a time that I feel safe with them exiting the car in a parking lot, so getting strapped into a stroller helps. At departure time, I can catch one child and then the other. As many parents know, it’s not easy to get one kid to leave an activity, let alone two or more. A stroller or wagon can at least keep them safe and in place while other children and gear are gathered. Other than a stroller, some moms like to use the leashes disguised as cute, fuzzy animal backpacks. This is a good option if you know your child won’t sit happily in a stroller or if you are going somewhere crowded.

I have also fallen into the habit of using the occasional bribe to get my children to cooperate when we are out on an errand or when we have to leave a fun activity. Everyone will have a different opinion on the subject of bribes, so it is really up to the adult to decide if bribes fall within his or her comfort level and parenting philosophy. I try to keep the bribe something small, and it also helps if it is something that I am willing to give or want to give. A snack that occurs around normal snack time might be a great incentive to get the kids to leave the park or remain occupied in the grocery store. The promise of a fun activity later in the day may also work. However, you have to be willing to not give the reward if you don’t get the desired behavior or action. For example, using a playdate that is already on the calendar as a bribe and not being willing to cancel it upon failure of cooperation is not going to work. These are the types of situations that I dread the most, but (in theory!) things get easier if the kids know you mean business. As an alternative to bribery, some moms have suggested bringing a special toy along that the children only get when you are out running errands. If the toy or coloring pad is seen infrequently, it should help to hold the child’s interest.

Planning an outing with multiples means that I need to get all my ducks in a row before I head out the door. I always do an assessment of the best places to go based on my ability to keep the kids safe and in sight. Sometimes I know that I need help, and that’s when I recruit a friend or family member to go along. Going on a small grocery run can be less nerve-wracking if a family member is willing to push a separate cart with a child. If your kids will behave sitting side-by-side in their stroller, then mastering the art of pulling a shopping cart behind you can eliminate the need for another adult. Potty training brings about its own complications, so having a friend or family member who can watch the other children will make the “Mommy, I have to pee!” moments less hectic.

Tricks suggested by other moms include dressing your children in matching clothing or brightly-colored clothing. A neon orange shirt won’t be hard to miss streaking across the playground. Also, giving your children plenty of warning for when it’s time to leave can help avoid a meltdown and encourage cooperation. Let them know when they have 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. Lay out clear guidlelines for the behavior you expect, how long you plan to stay, and the consequences for noncompliance. If you think there is a good chance someone will need a potty break while you are out it might be a good idea to keep a travel potty in your car. You have to know your own comfort level and whether or not you can take all the children into a public restroom at the same time. Basically, it comes down to knowing yourself, your children, and your environment. Going somewhere new can be more challenging, but that is why we have such a great community of Moms of Multiples – ask questions and get answers about other people’s experiences! There is never enough time in the day and things need to get done, so get out there and don’t be afraid to ask for help.