I am often reminded about how parents of singletons are totally clueless about some of the difficulties parents of multiples face. Parents at school question why my 2 year old twins are always in their stroller when I pick up and drop off their brother at school. Why don’t I let them walk around like their younger children? They mean well, but if they had ever had to run after 2 separate and mischievous children in opposite directions they probably would not be asking me these questions. I have a friend who last summer kept hounding me to come to the pool with the three of my boys in tow. Seriously? How am I supposed to stop 3 children from drowning, running away, and getting into scuffles with other children at the same time? I am constantly reminded about how you have no idea what it is like until you have lived it. Sometimes I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and not rip into them. They are just clueless after all.
When my oldest was younger (before the twins came along) we were always out and about. We would meet my girlfriends who worked, out for lunch, we would go swimming, hang at the park, story-time at the library, go to movies, constant play dates, go shopping, etc. Basically anything that I would do normally we would go out and do together. When the twins came along it was definitely a different story. It of course took some time for me to learn my lesson; a few epic fails if you will. I learned that if I wanted to keep my sanity that I needed to come up with a new game plan and adjust accordingly.
That game plan consists of me being more honest with myself about my limitations. If I am already feeling tired and stressed that day, then a trip to do the weekly grocery shopping with all 3 kids is probably going to push me to the edge. If a friend invites us all to play at the park (that has no enclosed playground) do I really believe that I am going to be able to keep an eye on all 3 at the same time? Probably not. Do I think that I am going to be able to actually eat lunch with my girlfriend at that cool new bistro downtown with the twins in tow? Probably not. So it is good to keep things realistic. So I offer up an alternative park instead (one with a gated playground), or a more child-friendly restaurant (aka one that has high chairs and things on the menu that may look more familiar to kids). Being a parent of multiples is all about being flexible. I have learned (through trial and error, of course) to roll with it, to be honest with myself and my friends, and to stop trying to force something to go awesome that is definitely not going to.
In the instance with my friend and the pool, after a little research I found a local pool where the kid’s pool (2 feet deep) was in a separate section and was actually surrounded by a fence with a gate. This was a much safer alternative than the open plan that most pools have. We were still able to go to the pool with friends, but I was also able to breathe easy and actually enjoy myself at the same time.
I have learned to only take the kids to the stores that have those giant carts that can accommodate a brood. Places like Kroger, Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, Super Target, and Super Walmart. Anywhere else and you are left with no room in the cart once you get all the kids in, or items are Tetris’d in-between bodies which will most likely end in broken eggs, smashed jelly jars, and screaming children.
The trick to handling twins while out and about by yourself is to just assess each situation, be honest with yourself about how you think it will go and plan accordingly. There is always a workaround. You don’t need to quit or give up on the things that you like to do. You just need to think creatively and do them differently.
Destiny Effertz is a stay at home mom to 3 boys under 4. Prior to having children she worked as a paralegal in a large civil litigation firm. Now she uses those research and organizational skills formulating new pie recipes and planning family vacations.