First the loud shrieking whistle. Then the words that no mother wants to hear: “Whose child is this?!” I knew instantly that it was my child. Well, one of them anyway. The other one was wrestling with me at that very moment. I looked down at the picnic blanket where she was supposed to be and … then I turned to see her crawling through the middle of the soccer pitch behind me. Game on!
I’ve always found the toddler wrangling stage tricky. I have two school aged boys who gave me a good run and I have earned my toddler wrangling stripes. But twin wrangling is a different ball game and one that I am still trying to master. And higher order multiples? I nearly pass out at the thought.
My girls are now 18 months and I’ve accumulated various twin wrangling devices that I’ve been testing out to see what works and what doesn’t. I’m of the opinion there is no one-size-fit-all solution when it comes to transporting kids around. So I have lots of options and I buy cheap or second hand.
The giant twin stroller
It rolls over any terrain, has a huge shade, and folds down into the size of a small car so we can only just squeeze it into the giant SUV.
This is my weapon of choice for the park, long walks, the beach, and any event requiring decent shade. But let me be honest, I despise this monstrosity of a stroller. It is essential though if you ever want to venture beyond the mall.
The umbrella twin stroller
It’s easy-peasy to get in and out of the car, dreadful to steer, and has been known to roll off down the street at the slightest gust of wind.
All that said, this is my favourite option of all – which has surprised me. A few twin mommy friends urged me to get one and I thought it was a bit of madness. How would I fit all the stuff I was going to need for twins in this tiny stroller? But as seasoned twin mommies know – you learn how to get about with very little with twins. The less crap you have to deal with the better and this stroller forces you to pack efficiently.
I use this for the shops and when we travel.
The red flyer wagon
Ours has no shade and the straps have frayed, so that combo, plus no breaks, makes this a choice for the brave at heart only.
I use this for Kindy classroom drop. Those 10 minutes that you have to stay and settle your older child into class are 10 minutes too long for my twin girls strapped into a stroller. So I take the wagon which is quicker to get them in and out of during the stressful school run. Plus they LOVE LOVE LOVE riding in it. If they’re happy that makes the drama of school mornings just a little bit easier.
I also use the wagon for the gym daycare drop. It puts them in a good mood before I leave them to go work out, and it makes for a quick and easy exit when I come to collect.
In Australia, the red flyer wagon is a rare sight to behold. I bought mine second hand in America years ago before the twins. You can get them here but they are very expensive. So I get all the comments: “Ooh wow!” “Where did you get that!” “Oh so cute!” “Can I have a ride? Ha ha ha”. And we all know how much we love those comments. Uugghhh. But the wagon is worth it.
The kiddy leash
We have the cute Disney backpack leashes, and the girls LOVE to cuddle them, but they are no so keen to actually wear them. And given the stares you get from every passer by, there’s really no words for these.
I use them at soccer games because there is no way to restrain two toddlers in a stroller during double soccer matches while your husband is coaching. I have tried taking a pack n play to games and that works for about 10 minutes, so that gives me 5 minutes longer than the stroller.
My girls are hopeless in them. They bumble and fall and wrangle and slip. It’s a sight to behold. They are skilled at getting themselves completely tangled together in a knot that a sailor would be impressed with. People laugh or frown or deliver their looks of pity. I hate them. They are a necessary evil. That is all.
The twin carrier front-and-back wrap-strap-thingy
I don’t have one of these but I thought it deserved a mention. I’m not sure I could intelligently work out how to put one of these on and it would probably have to stay on because how on earth do you get them off? The thought of having a toddler squished up against my boobs and another one hanging off my already screwed back, just doesn’t appeal to me.
I’ve seen pictures of real women wearing their toddler twins and more kudos to them. But let’s be honest, those women must be master puzzle solvers and have the patience of Mother Teresa. I don’t. And I’m ok with that.
p.s. Do these wraps come with an alcohol drip feed? Because that seems like a mandatory requirement for wearing one.
(Twiniversity tip: You should really check out the Twingaroo if you’re serious about a twin carrier!)
My Two Hands
In the end, there is no twin wrangling device as a good as a responsible parent’s safe arms. But when there is just one of you, there’s only so much double-scoop-holding your back can take! Especially if your toddlers are chunky monkeys like mine.
We are working on being able to ditch the equipment and walk safely hand and hand, but that is taking considerable practice, patience, and nerves of steel to master.
In the meantime, for the safety of your children, make friends with as many helpful parents as you can. Other parents regularly rescue my toddlers from various disasters on a regular basis and I am always grateful for their help. With twins it sure does take a village … and a truck load of twin wrangling gear!
Gen Fields is an Australian mother of four – two boys (8 and 5 years) and identical twin girls (18 months). Gen has been a military spouse for 13 years, travelled to four continents and lived across Australia and in Hawaii. She is currently based in remote North West Australia and is set to move again soon. Gen is a blogger at www.perfectmummom.com and www.thismovinglife.com.au.