My phone vibrates. I have a new text message. “We’re planning a playdate! Bring the twins and meet us at the park.” I would argue that if you have multiples who are walking, but just young enough to not understand commands or verbally communicate their frustrations, there is nothing more stress inducing then taking twin toddlers out in public alone.
Even when my husband is there to help something inevitability happens that makes me want to retreat back to my childproof home where I can maybe relax for 5 seconds. I avoid going out in public at all costs right now because I am constantly accessing risk and trying to determine which twin is in more danger at the moment.
For example, while we were at the Farmer’s Market, one of my twins runs straight into a trash can while the other chases a Golden Retriever. A quick analysis leads me to believe the dog looks harmless, meanwhile I’m sure the trash is filled with toxins. So off I go and chase one, while yelling to the other that I’ll be right there. Meanwhile, the other moms stare in horror as I’m sweating, yelling and running around while they sip a hot latte and hold their one baby. I’m not sure what that feels like but it looks dreamy, like Anthropologie’s Instagram feed.
Parenting multiples is isolating. It’s tough. Other parents may take our boundaries personally, but it’s just for a season. And mommas of young toddlers, you know what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t wish this season away, I’m trying to soak up the sweet memories one panic attack at a time.
While I prefer to not take my twins out in public, for their own safety and my sanity, there are a few things I’ve learned that help make it easier.
Planning is everything
If I time it just right, normally after they wake up for the day and have eaten a good breakfast, I probably have an hour to meet up with friends and let the kids play before the next meltdown.
Meeting a friend and her little one at a fenced in park went well. That experience gave me the courage to take them to the doctor by myself. That appointment made me want to lock myself in my house and never leave. But I somehow forgot about that and said yes to meeting at the Children’s Museum. That experience was so-so. I only lost one twin for a few minutes and other mommas took pity on me and helped to wrangle my twins. It takes a village folks.
Try to drag a friend along to public outings so you're not alone
Note that this is not for the faint of heart. I find it much easier to bring along a friend with a sense of adventure who laughs in the face of fear and keeps my stress level to a minimum. Also be sure to make sure this is a good friend, as some friends may not be thrilled with this scenario.
Stick to safe places
Places like county parks, Target and Chick-Fil-A are my go to “safe zones” where other parents usually “get it”. Any family friendly restaurant, store or park are good places. I don’t feel as judged as I do when I need to swing by the vet or the bank as I do going to these places.
Learn to let it go
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be the mom who does it all and shows up to everything. Kids LOVE routine so staying at home works for us right now. They love their dog at home, their splash table and all the boxes that Amazon sends because I’m too afraid to leave the house. For me, being present and focused on my twins is the most important thing I can do for them, and that usually means we live in the mundane and create adventures at home- and I’m okay with that.
When I plan ahead and try to prepare as much as one can, taking them out in public isn’t always a nightmare. The first time we took them to Toys ‘R Us, one of my twins literally said “Wow!” and took off running. It was hilarious, amazing and one of those times I want to write down in their baby books- except that they are 17 months now and I’m still on month one.
Do they have tantrums out in public when they hear the word “no”? Absolutely. But you know what, this is developmentally normal and they are just as frustrated as you. So keep your head up moms and dads- you are doing great! Take a deep breath and remember, one day they will be off backpacking Europe and you’ll be the empty-nester telling the sweet new mom in the check-out lane that this too shall pass.
Stefani Zimmerman Drake is a wife, twin mom and lover of rescue dogs. As a strategic communications consultant who runs her own business in Charleston, South Carolina, Stefani and her husband spend their time capturing all the sweet moments of their girls, while always dreaming about their next big adventure.You can follow their adventures online or via Instagram stories.
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