When I had my son 3 1/2 years ago, I was determined to keep up with my normal lifestyle. And I did. Baby in tow, two weeks post C-section, I was out and about. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was easy with one.
Fast forward three years – and it was a huge slap in the face when I had my twin girls. I went from one child to three. I remember feeling both overjoyed and horrified at the same time.
At first, I met my fear with the “I will never go anywhere” approach. This ends up becoming survival mode – where a successful day is one where I changed out of my pajamas into more glorified pajamas (i.e. yoga attire). Any trips out were coordinated with the Grandmas and I would rush to run errands in between feedings and during naps.
12 pounds later and a whole lot of unhappiness, I decided that this was not going to work at at all. Quite simply, insanity was creeping up trying to entertain three kids at home ALL DAY LONG. I knew I had to start getting out of the house more.
So, it was with much fear and anticipation, I slowly starting venturing out – And not just to hit the drive-thru (a strategy that definitely has it’s place!), but to actually go into stores, attend a story-time and put my children around other people…in PUBLIC!
Now, I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. I literally feel an adrenaline rush at the beginning of every outing, even to this day. The ‘not-knowing’ how it will go is intensely scary. But, I find that it’s not too bad once you get brave. There will be mishaps and meltdowns, but it sure beats the entire day inside…
Some tips for how I survive being out with three small children:
#1: Just go. Don’t think too much, or you’ll chicken out. Just do it.
#2: Pack for battle: Be armed with sippy cups, toddler hush money (i.e. snacks), and have a variety of small toys/gadgets. An iPhone can work like a charm at stopping a tantrum in it’s tracks.
#3 Leave no walkers – if at all possible. Walkers turn into runners…often running away from you…in a parking lot.
#4 If you must have a walker, perfect the death grip hold on any child walking and learn how to steer a cart or stroller one handed.
#5 Know the stores that have plenty of the child friendly carts. Sure you look like a circus coming, but everyone is strapped in and no one can run anywhere! No child carts? Get creative – two in the basket, one in the child seat or make use of baby wearing. Some moms of twins have actually perfected the simultaneous shopping cart and stroller maneuver. I have yet to attempt this.
#6 Set your kids up for success – I make use of the self-checkouts, because I can distract the my oldest by letting him help me. I can easily prevent checkout meltdowns (why do they always wait til checkout?) with less judging stares from strangers. I once had my son FLIP his lid when the cashier put his granola bars into the bag. Clearly, she had to know he wanted to hold them.
#7 Don’t overdo it, and know when to abort mission. I consider any shopping trip where I have gotten the necessities to be a success. Don’t get greedy and try to stop for that latte, too. I usually have a one-stop rule.
#8 Keep it simple. A stop at a friend’s house, a playground, the train station, a walk to hte park to eat lunch or just a drive are all ways to break up that day and get a little fresh air.
#9 Rewards – Keeping my kids happy is pretty important, and isn’t that what it’s all about? I reward successful trips out with an easy stop -like the train station for my three year old. If he let mommy shop at the store, we swing by the train station to wave as it comes in. Hey…whatever works.