Let’s face it; everything seems just a little bit harder when you are doing it with twins, especially when they are babies. The mere thought of taking your twin babies with you on the weekly grocery run may be enough to send you into a panic. But relax! It is completely doable, with just a little bit of coordination and creativity.
I learned early on after the birth of my twins that I needed to get us all out of the house on a near-daily basis to preserve my sanity. And that meant learning how to navigate public places with infant twins and a 2 year old, grocery stores included.
I’ve tried just about every trick in the book when it comes to carting three kids and groceries through a massive store. I live in a fairly small town and double shopping carts, or fancy ones with toy cars attached, are not always easy to find. I have had to make do primarily with a traditional-sized cart. And I have found that each phase in my babies’ lives called for a different tactic.
Unable to sit unassisted
When my twins were newborns, my tandem stroller/ travel system was my best friend. I could swiftly shift both of the infant carriers into the stroller, lock them in place, grab my oldest son, and we were off and running. So when it came time to try out a grocery trip, I decided the easiest method would be to push the stroller with one hand and pull the shopping cart behind me, with my oldest son sitting in the child seat of the cart. It took a little arm strength to maneuver, but this was by far the best set-up. My big boy was still safely close to me, and I could easily keep an eye on my babies.
Now if you don’t want to feel like a miniature locomotive, another option at this age is to put one of the infant carriers into the main basket of the shopping cart, filling around it with groceries, and wear the other baby in a sling or carrier. It could work well for a quick trip; I just always found that I had too many groceries and never enough room left in the cart.
Once my twins were big enough to not need to stay in their infant carriers, I found my previous push/pull grocery strategy didn’t really work for me anymore. When they sat in the traditional stroller seats, they faced away from me, and I couldn’t keep an eye on them as easily. So I needed a new plan.
I realized the boys were just the right size to sit in the child seat of the shopping cart together. I placed them in there facing one another, carefully arranging legs so that nobody got squished. I went online and found my own shopping cart safety straps (for about $4 a piece) and used them as seat belts. My oldest son either rode in the basket or walked alongside, since he was much bigger by then.
Because I was knowingly using the shopping cart in a way that was modified from its original intention, I made it a point to keep extra vigilance on the twins at all times. As long as they sat still and enjoyed the ride, this method worked extremely well. But as soon as they began stretching and reaching out of the cart, or kicking one another, we were on to the next plan.
Older and more active
By this time I had traded in our double travel system for a compact and lightweight double umbrella stroller. Its width makes one-handed pushing impossible, so I got creative with those $4 safety straps, rigging the stroller to the front of the cart.
This option worked great in terms of creating enough seats for everyone. But it came with downsides as well. Turning corners became extremely difficult with too many wheels that didn’t want to work together. I found it easier to position myself next to the cart, behind the stroller, and push that way. And I had to skip the skinnier aisles, sticking only to the main thoroughfares.
Now that my twins are almost two, I have become brave enough to give them limited freedom. I typically place one boy in the child seat of the shopping cart, and I let the other walk alongside me.
This method is still hard for an overprotective mother. But I never let my walking twin get farther away than arm’s reach, and if he starts to misbehave, I pick him up and carry him in one arm while I push the cart with the other. It is not ideal, but I have found that the loss of freedom works as pretty sound punishment, and within a few minutes he is ready to behave and walk on his own once more.
Tips for any age
There are a few key tips for grocery shopping with twins that apply no matter what age or phase.
- Always make sure they are fed and their diapers are changed right before you head out the door. Full tummies and clean bottoms will afford you a window of time to complete your errands without having to worry about changing a diaper on the go, or hungry babies. Sure, the unexpected can still happen, but you have lessened the odds.
- Plan to do your shopping at a time when the store will be the most empty. I have found that late morning is typically ideal for us; we won’t have to deal with too many other customers. This helps for two reasons. Depending on what method you are using, there are fewer people to navigate carts and strollers around. But perhaps more importantly, there are fewer people who will stop you every five steps with countless questions and comments about your twins. Because you are on a strict timetable to get your shopping done while your children are still full, clean and happy. So the less you have to stop and talk, the better.
- My final bit of timeless advice is for when your little ones decide they don’t want to shop anymore. Stay calm! Don’t panic! I can guarantee the person that's most bothered by your screaming child is you.
Hopefully one of these ideas will make grocery shopping with your twins just a little bit easier, or even inspire you to find something completely different that works perfectly for you.
Find more tips on getting out and about with the kids:
Sharon Knight is a former Emmy-award winning television news producer, who took time off from the working world to become a full-time mom when her identical twin boys were born in April of 2012. She also had a 22-month-old son at the time, and found that “3 under 3” was the perfect excuse to shift gears. She could not be happier spending her days surrounded by her little men.
Just like all mothers of multiples, Sharon wears a dozen different hats throughout her day, but her favorite is being a teacher to her three young students, helping them learn something new about the world they live in every day. In her very limited spare time, Sharon loves to write. She lives in Southern Colorado with her husband and three boys. Visit her blog at http://srbknight.wordpress.com.