After a particularly successful outing with my nine month olds, I was reviewing the trip, analyzing it to figure out exactly why it went so well. And although I doubt I could duplicate the success of the day, I have noticed a few themes that occur more often than not on our good days. As such, I would like to pass along a few tidbits I have learned over the last few months…most of which I learned the the hard way!
When I brought home my two little screaming bundles of joy from the hospital, I was so relieved to be freed from the confines of my pregnant belly, that I couldn’t wait to get out and about without the careful chaperoning of my husband. However, as a new MoM, I wasn’t going anywhere with out said shrieking bundles. The first few weeks I had lots of family help, and was chauffeured as I wasn’t able to drive post c-section. But bright and early on a Monday morning, 3 weeks after Faith and Jonathan were born, I was on my own. So what did I do on my first day flying solo? Well, I went to the mall.
I desperately needed to be around people, and simply could not tolerate being in the house another day without going a little stir crazy. I can’t remember much about that trip, but I do remember the drive home, because both babies were WAILING the whole time. My hormonal nerves were frayed, and I begged each red light to change. Obviously, I had pushed the envelope, and was now paying for it. I arrived home with two babies who were certain they were starving, and were going to pass out if they were not fed right now! After feeding them, they quieted, and my stress level lessened. I realized that I should have fed the babies prior to loading them into the car and heading home…and that is tip #1. Always plan your outings around your feedings.
Babies with full tummies travel and tolerate changes much better than hungry babies. Expect your newborns to need to be fed while you are out and about, and prepare for it. If your babies are drinking their milk in bottles, they can be fed two at a time while in their carseats. If you will need a private place to breastfeed, consider nursing in your vehicle, or in a handicapped changing room. The handicapped rooms have enough room for maneuvering a double or triple stroller, and are great for quick diaper changes, far removed from the prying eyes of all those interested in your “double trouble” duo.
My second tip would be to #2. Quit while you are ahead. And by this I mean, reconsider your time-line. Before I was a mom, I could easily go from one store/activity to the next, with barely a bathroom break in between. But my little ones do not have the ability to go from location to location without a break. Lets face it, no matter how scheduled we try to be, there is nothing like two or more infants to throw a wrench in your perfectly choreographed day. If you overbook your day, or your expectations are too high, you might find yourself frustrated, and itching to check just one more thing off of your to-do list. I vividly recall feeling so annoyed that my babies would barely tolerate one (1.7 mile) trip around the park….didn’t they know that Mama does two laps? I definitely had to change my thinking.
Today, we left our outing with enough time to get home for naps, and before the kids melted down. In this way, I ended the trip feeling quite pleased with our day, rather than put out that I couldn’t window shop/walk/sip my coffee longer.
Lastly, I want to talk about # 3. Technique. The idea of loading and unloading my kiddos from the house to the car and getting them into different restaurants/stores/doctor’sappointments was overwhelming for me. Before I gave birth, I couldn’t imagine how to do it. My babies were in infant car seats from 0-6 months. To get us out the door, I would:
1. Load babies into car seats, and place by front door.
2. Run purse, water bottle and diaperbag out to car, and start it with A/C or heat on, depending on the weather.
3. Carry the babies to the car and snap them in. When they got older and heavier, I would leave one on the front porch, and snap the sibling into the carseat base. Repeat.
From six months on, we have been using convertible car seats. The trick that I employ is placing a pac-n-play by the front door as a “staging area.” I will take one child out to the car and come back for their sibling, who was contained in a safe place. This has become especially useful as the babies have recently started to crawl. Using the pac-n-play provides me with peace of mind as I shovel the walkway, or scrape ice from our windshield.
I also like to keep a bjorn or similar carrying device tucked into the basket of my stroller. This has come in very handy during meltdowns, and I can comfort one by carrying them while having my hands free to push the other baby in the stroller. It is hard on the back, but then again, nearly everything about motherhood hurts my back!
Also, whenever possible, I park near handicap entrances, and utilize the ramp, automatic doors and lower curbs. And a good trick for grocery shopping or doing your Target run…place one infant carrier in the front of the cart, and carry the other in a bjorn or sling. This leaves your cart free for your purchases.
Leaving the house with two babies is absolutely possible, and totally necessary for the mental health of MoM. Remember, you are strong and capable! The way I figure it, the very worst thing that could happen is both babies could cry/scream/poop/pee/vomit and you could turn into a hormonal pile of mush. Face it, that could just as easily happen at home! But at least this way, you can make good use of the Starbucks drive-thru!