We Are Not a Tourist Attraction!

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Categories Mommy Issues, Other peopleTags , , 6 Comments

In our past life, as non parents, my husband and I loved to travel.  Now, it is just too hard.  Frankly, it was hard with just one child, but add twins to the mix, and we are staying home a lot more!

But shortly after Christmas, Connecticut had a little heat wave, as in 50 degrees, and on a whim, we took the kids into the city to see the lights.  For someone as OCD as me about planning, this was a huge deal.  Major credit goes to my husband for suggesting we bring a second stroller for our 4 year old.  I do periodic “head counts” and having all three kids in 2 strollers made that so much easier!

The kids all loved the city!  And eventually we made our way to the tree.  Personally, I was not a huge fan.  They have done better.  Just saying…  But that is not the point.  You all know that when you go out with twins (or triples, quads, etc), you attract a lot of attention.  Stares.  I have felt like a circus freak many, many times.  But this was our weirdest yet.  A woman turned away from the tree and decorations to stare at us.  And make all those comments like, “Oh look, twins!”.  And then she took a picture of my kids!  Seriously, I saw her raise the camera and point it at us and click.  And the Rockefeller tree was behind her.  Behind me was traffic.  There is not a doubt in my mind she was photographing my babies.  I was stunned!  To stunned to react really.  I turned the stroller and walked away but inside I was seething.

I am imagining that she is from Kansas (no disrespect to anyone from Kansas, I just decided to imagine Kansas) and in the city on vacation.  I am picturing her showing her friends pictures of her trip and saying, “Look!  I saw twins!”.  Why on earth would she even want a picture of my kids?  I get that they are super cute, especially with those hats, but really, what does she plan to do with that picture?  Will it get put in a scrapbook?  framed?  hung in her wall?

How do you all handle things like this?

Beth is known as mommy by a 4 year old and boy-girl 17 month old twins. She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

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Grocery Shopping with Twins and More

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Categories Ask the Moms, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Multiple Solutions, Parenting Twins, PerspectiveTags , , , , , 2 Comments

 

You Can Do This!

Twins in a shopping cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com
Yetunde‘s pair are ready to roll!

You can run errands with twins or more, including multiple infants or toddlers. You can do this. Yes, alone. If you must do so alone, or just want to, you should give it a try. We’re going to tell you how The Moms go grocery shopping with kids in tow, from twins to quadruplets, with some singletons thrown in for good measure.

This post assumes that you have access to a car, are walking, or are riding a bike. Taking public transportation with multiples is a topic for another day.

Leaving the House

Plan and Pack

As with most things related to caring for babies, grocery shopping with twins or more starts with good planning. Pick a time that works for you and your kids. Do your babies fall asleep in the car and nap well out and about? Consider going shopping during nap time so that they can sleep through the whole thing. Are they happy and social in the morning? Go shopping then. Make a complete shopping list so that you can minimize followup trips required to pick up things that you forgot during your main shopping haul.

diaper bag and contents from hdydi.com
Photo Credit: dhgatsby

Pack your diaper bag with the things you’ll need. The basics usually include things for diaper changes, something to wipe up spills and messes, changes of clothes in case of mess, something for the babies to eat, and something for them to play with. You’ll also need to have a transportation solution at the ready, whether it’s a stroller-carseat system, baby wrap, wagon, or all of the above.

Twinfant Tuesdays: Errands with Lots of Little Ones from hdydi.com
If your child is old enough to sit in a cart but not big enough to stay propped up, a rolled up blanket can help, as demonstrated by Sadia‘s daughter J at Ikea. M is wearing, or rather worn in, an Evenflo Snuggli. Please see our baby carrier post for our thoughts on wearing twins.

Older kids don’t need all the diaper paraphernalia, but they might need something to keep their hands and minds occupied, like books or toys. A small container of fruit or cereal is a good thing to have on hand for when blood sugar dips and tempers rise. Depending on the ages of your children, you may have traded in your diaper wipes for antibacterial hand gel… although you may find yourself wishing you had wipes, even with school-age kids!

Before you head out the door, make sure that your kids are clean and fed. If they’re just fussy, and you have a constitution that allows you to drive with a fussy child in the car, just move on to loading up. Sometimes you’ll need to drive through the crying to get to your goal.

Don’t forget your shopping bags, cooler or insulated bag, and transportation solution.

If you do make a habit of shopping with your multiples, you’ll need to be prepared to be a minor celebrity. Especially during the first couple of years, when it is obvious that your children are the same age, people will want to stop and talk to you about multiples. Budget extra time for discussion with curious strangers. Arm yourself with standard answers for common questions.

Load Up

3 infants buckled up at home: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com
3 infants in a car: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com Sadia’s daughters and a friend’s son went shopping together regularly. M wasn’t too happy about it.

Put your kids in the car last. That way you’re not distracted by their demands while you pack up. Make sure that they’re somewhere safe, like a crib, swing or playpen, while you pack your car with your stroller (or wagon or baby wraps) and diaper bag and other equipment. Janna kept bouncy chairs in the front room and strapped her boys in on the way in and out of the house.

If you’re using bucket-style infant car seats, it may be easiest to load and strap your babies in in the comfort of your home, then install the seats in your car, complete with babies.

If you’re walking or bicycling, the same general approach holds true. Load the kids last.

Out and About

You’ve loaded up and arrived at your grocery shopping destination with your twins. Now what?

Parking

If you’ve driven to the store, check to see whether they have designated Customer with Child parking spots. If you can score one, it will likely be near the cart return closest to the main entrance to the store. You can maximize your chances of reasonable parking by shopping at off-peak hours such as weekday mornings, but this isn’t feasible for everyone.

Walking and Biking

Janna and RebeccaD walk almost everywhere. RebeccaD purchases only what she can fit in the undercarriage of the stroller. She hits the store with her boys every couple of days. She uses her double stroller for most errands. Janna walks to the pharmacy, grocery store, post office, thrift store. The workout is a bonus!

Once her boys turned a year old, Janna switched to a trailer behind her bike. This isn’t always possible, of course, if your errand is too far away or the weather is too hot or cold, but it works great for her family most of the time.

Implement Your In-Store Strategy

The Moms have a plethora of ideas for containing and transporting kids at the grocery store. Yetunde has actually written about this in the past on her personal blog. If you’re planning to use a store cart, parking near the cart return can make it easier to snap up a cart without having to stray far from your car.

  • A common solution for infants is a double car seat/stroller system, such as the Double Snap-N-Go or Graco DuoGlider. MandyE was once able to run three quick errands within an hour thanks to the ease of baby transfer! Where do the groceries go, we hear you clamor. One option is to use the basket under your stroller as your cart. This severely limits how much you can purchase at a time. Another option is to push your stroller with one hand while pulling a store cart behind you with the other. It looks a little crazy, but it works well.
  • 3-seater cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com
    Target has carts that seat 3 kids with ease, demoed here by MandyE’s precious duo.

    More and more stores are offering shopping carts that seat two or more children. In our experience, such stores include Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and many branches of the Texas grocery store HEB. Sadia found it to be worth driving a few extra miles to go to a store that had two-seater carts standard.

    Twin boys crying in a two-seater shopping cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.blog
    Jen Wood‘s boys don’t seem to appreciate two-seater shopping carts as much as The Moms do.

    Don’t have any stores nearby with carts that accommodate two seated kids? Let your store manager know; the company may simply be unaware of the demand.

    This brings us to another point: “Shop” around and choose stores that work for you. Find places where you can maximize your effort and where you can shop effectively. One-stop shopping is your friend. SarahP typically goes to Costco first, then to Walmart because she can price match there and get all the other odds and ends. Use the grocery store pharmacy. Look for wide aisles. You may find it worthwhile to invest in a cover to keep little fingers off germy cart parts and/or disinfecting wipes to wipe down the cart before transferring your kids.

  • MandyE (in the photo) and Sadia both used the wear one/drive one approach to shopping with twins.
    MandyE used the wear one/drive one approach to shopping with twins. Note that most car seat manufacturers recommend placing car seats inside the car rather than in the seat area. Check your manual!

    You can wear one baby and put the other(s) in the shopping cart. Wiley typically wore her twinfant girls, had her toddler son seated in the cart, and had her school-age son walk. The trick to reaching things on low shelves without spilling a baby is to squat. You’ll have thighs of steel, so that’s a benefit of this approach. Note that many car seat manufacturers advise against placing car seats in cart seats the way MandyE demonstrates and many of The Moms do regularly. Try using the cart strap to secure the seat the way you would with the seatbelt in your car.

  • Twins hiding in the paper towels: Grocery Shopping with Multiples: hdydi.com
    Jen Wood’s guys remind us that our kids are also pretty creative, so be careful when letting them walk in the store.

    Get creative. SaraBeth has seen parents bungee two carts together. Sadia has shopped with her kids in a Radioflyer wagon. SarahP keeps one baby in the car seat in the main area of the cart, puts her 2-year-old in the sitting area of the cart and straps the other baby to herself in a Baby Bjorn. The groceries go under the cart and around the seat. It may look like a circus, but it works! Carolyn – Twintrospectives used her stroller as her cart. When she had too much bagged stuff after paying to fit elegantly back under the stroller, she used a couple of mommy hooks to hang bags off other parts of the stroller. Janna used to hang reusable grocery bags from the double stroller handles.

  • 7-year-olds helping mom push a shopping cart: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com
    Sadia’s daughters can help her steer the cart, although they’re just at the height where they can’t see where they’re going. They now prefer to walk alongside the cart and help calculate the best values and keep mommy within budget.

    Kids don’t have to be contained. If your kids are old enough to walk and trustworthy enough to be free, invite them to help you push the cart or give them carts of their own. Sadia’s kids still, at age 7, walk between her and the shopping cart, embraced within her arms and “helping” her push. If they wish to walk alongside the cart, they are each assigned a spot on the side of the cart to keep a hand on. They are not permitted to let go without explicit permission. SaraBeth determines which twin goes “free range” based on who has been better at listening that day.

  • Twin boys push miniature shopping carts in the store: Grocery Shopping with Multiples from hdydi.com
    Jen Wood’s sons are on a mission. Having his own cart keeps each boy close to mom and focused on shopping.

    Avoid the store altogether. Shop online. Subscribe to a CSA that delivers to your home. Use a drive-through.

There will be days when your kids will be in rare form, screaming bloody murder, and you’ll wonder how essential food really is. We’ve been there. On balance, though, shopping is doable, often even fun. If you treat it like a fun outing, your kids will have fun too. MandyE and Sadia will talk about making grocery shopping fun and educational in a later post.

Ask for and Accept Help

Twins in a double shopping cart seat: Grocery Shopping with Twins from hdydi.com
The Moms love these double seat shopping carts, modeled here by Carolyn – Twintrospectives’ boys. If your store doesn’t have them, see if a manager can order a few. Once they see how popular they are, they’ll get the message!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Janna often asked strangers to hold doors for her. Sadia asks store staff to help her lift things down from tall shelves. Carryout services offered by some grocery stores is golden. If you let the staff member load groceries into your car, it frees you up to load up your kids.

Unique Circumstances

Special Needs Children

Marissa‘s son A was very sick as a newborn and was essentially quarantined until he was 6 months old, by order of his doctor. This meant keeping D in too until he had his 3rd DTaP. Marissa’s husband, mother, and grandmother ran almost all of the errands, since A required extensive care when not hospitalized. We know, we said you could do it, but sometimes it’s best that you don’t run errands with your kids, for their sakes.

Grocery cart with infant seat attached: Grocery Shopping with Twins from hdydi.com
Some grocery stores provide shopping carts with infant seat already (and securely!) installed. If you wear one baby, these are great for parents of twins.

Now A is doing much better, but he couldn’t sit in a shopping cart until he was about 14 months old. Marissa wore him most of the time and had D sit in the cart. In addition, A is tube-fed and she does not let that stop them from participating in any activity, even though people are far more likely to stare than when witnessing public breastfeeding. One of Wiley’s daughters needs to drink thickened liquids to prevent aspiration, so they keep individual servings of thickener in their diaper bags now. Due to the aspiration issue, she had to drink pumped milk, so Wiley and her family had to travel with a cooler even though her twin sister could just breastfeed on demand.

Sadia’s daughter’s frontonasal dysplasia does sometimes force her family to contend with awkward comments and questions, but she has a stockpile of canned responses at the ready. She also talked to both her daughters about others’ perceptions and comments, since keeping them out of earshot is not a realistic option.

Higher Order Multiples

Mrslubby‘s husband loves to take her quadruplets and their 4-year-old big sister shopping, if nothing else to prove he can! He loads up two babies in one cart and two babies in another. With their older singleton standing on the end of a cart, he pushes one cart and pulls the other. While Mrslubby cringes at all the looks she gets from strangers with her brood, her husband basks in the acknowledgment of his juggling skills.

Pregnant MoMs

At the moment, Marissa is too pregnant with her third baby to wear her son A facing out in a front-carry. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like back-carry much, so she usually only take one kiddo on errands. Once again, her husband does most of the errands, because that’s what works for her family. As we said earlier, asking for help is an important MoM skill, as is accepting help when it’s offered.

Single (or Functionally Single) Parents

Janna and Sadia were both functionally single parents when their twins were very young, thanks to Janna’s husband’s extended work hours and Sadia’s (now ex-)husband’s repeated deployments. They had no alternative but to run errands with their kids, so it never occurred to them that it should be difficult. On the other hand, RachelG and her husband share equally in family tasks such as grocery shopping, so there is no need for either of them to master solo groceries. Do what works for your family’s needs.

If you’re a working single mother like Sadia, chances are that you have very little flexibility in your schedule and no one to watch your kids without prior planning. Work a weekly shopping trip into your routine so that your little ones know to expect it. Consider having a backup supply of canned and frozen goods to carry you through if you hit a week during which you just can’t make it to the store. Moms do occasionally get sick. Cars break down. Roads flood. Don’t be caught without food and toilet paper.

Unloading at Home

Unloading your groceries with young kids around can also take some planning. Your multiples and other kids may be especially demanding on returning to the safe environment of home. As on the way out of the door, make sure that you have a safe place to keep them while you bring your shopping inside.

Grocery Shopping with Twins and More from hdydi.com
Photo Credit: malloreigh

Consider using a cooler or insulated grocery bag for frozen or refrigerated items. This allows you a bigger window to tend to your kids before you return your attention to the groceries waiting to be put away. If your store has an especially competent bagger, do what you can to get in their checkout line and avoid careless baggers. Alternately, you can oversee the bagging yourself or simply communicate to the checkout staff that you need your things bagged in a particular order. It helps them out if you load groceries in logical groupings while you’re checking out.

Sadia keeps a tote in the trunk of her car to help keep things sorted. Refrigerator items go in the tote, everything else straight into the trunk. When she gets home, she can pick up everything that needs to be put away quickly at once. The rest can wait.

Not Just for Moms

The post has been written about moms going shopping with kids because we’re moms who go shopping with kids. This advice is for everyone else too, though: for the DoMs who do just as much in the way of home and family maintenance as MoMs, for nannies and au pairs who are out and about with the kids, for grandmas and grandpas, whether the grandkids are visiting or are in your permanent care.

Katelyn‘s husband carries one kid on his shoulders. Marissa’s husband wears a Moby like nobody’s business. Just yesterday, Sadia had a lovely conversation with a dad of 9-month-old twins while he wore one baby and had the other lying in the built-in infant seat in the store cart. When she got fussy, dad just scooped her onto his hip. He still had a free hand for the cart. Wiley’s nanny tends to wear one girl, put one in the cart seat, and put her middle boy in the body of the cart while the oldest is at school.

We all find ways to get things done, even if it takes some creativity.

Do you have specific types of errands, family situations, or location-related limitations on which you’d like The Moms’ advice? What grocery store trip tips did we miss?

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One Negative Twin Comment Too Many

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Categories Other people, Parenting, Parenting TwinsTags , , , 19 Comments

My very first negative twin comment experience happened when I was pregnant, gleefully scanning an early ultrasound photo in the office copy room. One of my coworkers walked in as I was walking out, ultrasound picture in hand.

“What’s that?” He asked me, eyeing the photo.

“Uh … nothing …” I wasn’t quite three months along, and not ready to share this news with my coworkers.

“Ah – it looks like an ultrasound pic. Congrats. When are you due?”

“October!” I said, in a rush of excitement. “But I am actually having twins … so they will probably come earlier than that. The latest will probably be toward the end of September …”

He looked at me with such utter shock that my heart stopped. “Twins?!!! Are they natural? Oh boy. I feel sorry for you. That’s going to be awful. How will you guys afford it? Two babies?! You don’t even know what one newborn is like. Is Steven okay with this? Is he upset?” (Yes, this is the actual conversation. I kid you not.)

Granted, he had a young child who still hadn’t started sleeping through the night and a marriage that was on the rocks … maybe twins was overwhelming to him … but still. I walked back to my office with a heavy heart. It was almost as if he had shattered something beautiful and innocent that I had held dear in those first few weeks. We hadn’t experienced any negativity in the least  from family or friends, and my husband was over the moon. My coworker’s comment, I would soon find out, would be the first of many not-so-nice comments about twins.

I am always stopped short in my tracks when a stranger or acquaintance says something rude to me about twins. I don’t react right away. I don’t know how to react. I usually keep moving, and the whole time regret not saying something rude back. Regret not standing up for myself and my children.

In the beginning, it would shake me to the core. I would cry to my husband when I was home later, feeling sad and awful that people could be so insensitive, especially when talking about my children, who were completely innocent of the fact they were twins and sometimes perceived to the outside world as a burden. In the months after their birth, I quickly grew a thick skin, and the comments started to roll off of me. Instead of tearing me down, I let the rudeness slide right off of me, and I would keep on walking.

Perhaps you could say I recently reached a third stage of enlightenment: talking back.

It was during a weekly CVS trip. The woman at the counter that day was one who always waited on me. While she doted on Jack and Mara, she always had something a little rude to say about them. Today was no different.

“Ah! They are getting so big!” She says, peering into my stroller.

“I know … they are nine months old already. Its starting to fly by!”

“I hope to have a baby with my boyfriend … I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer … I’m 36 and I think my time might be up,” she says.

“No! A lot of women have babies a little later. My sister-in-law is almost 37 and has a baby. My boss started having kids when she was 40! It will all work out,” I tell her.

She leans in, as if sharing a secret with me. “Well, there are twins on my side of the family, and my boyfriend’s side … Oh My God! I can’t imagine!” She wrinkles her nose as if smelling something awful. “I would die! I’m sorry, but I think it would be awful.”

I say nothing and pay, walk my babies out of the store, and head for the car.

By the time I get to the car, I am fuming.

By the time I unload Jack and Mara, I am ready to go back in and say something to her.

I march back into the store, and go back to the pharmacy counter. She spots me, and walks over. “Hi – did you forget something?” She asks.

“Well, I just wanted to let you know … your comment was rude. When you are talking about twins to a mother of twins, you shouldn’t say they’re awful.” I pull my sunglasses off. “Its fine if you think that way, but it was really rude for you to say that to me.” I’m shaking.

The woman looks genuinely taken aback. “No! I didn’t mean it like that. I think if my boyfriend and I had twins it would be such a blessing …”

“No, you don’t,” I say, and walk out. Other customers had heard our exchange, and so had her coworker. I wonder what she is thinking.

My husband thinks I overreacted, and perhaps I did. Perhaps it was unfortunate that it was this comment (surely not the most horrible I have ever heard) that somehow moved me enough to speak up. Back to the event in the work copy room – I had muttered a few words back which to this day I can’t remember, and walked away, feeling embarrassed. It was this exchange, in the CVS, where I finally had enough.

I do think there is a larger issue at hand – people, when speaking this way about twins, don’t realize they are being rude. The woman in CVS had not tried to intentionally hurt my feelings; I know that. To her, the idea of twins is truly horrifying. And that’s fine. But, she didn’t – and others don’t – stop and think about how their comments come across. They sting.

While I am still trying to find my best approach to hurtful comments, I would love to know how others react. Should I just have walked away? Or did I do the right thing?

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Safety in the Big Bad World

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I know that my job is not so much to protect my daughters from the big bad world as it is to prepare them to tackle it increasingly independently as they grow. Despite the urge to wrap them in a protective cocoon of parental control, I force myself to let my nearly 7-year-olds experience the world and fight their own battles, within reason.

For Easter, my daughters received small kites from their father and stepmother. We live on a quiet suburban street, so when my daughter J begged to fly her kite on the sidewalk while I cooked dinner last week, I agreed, trying to hide the knot of fear in my throat. I watched her from the kitchen window. She raced up and down the sidewalk, never going more than two houses away, never getting too close to the street, laughter pouring out of every pore.

The next afternoon, J’s twin sister M joined her, although they were back in the house in minutes. The kite had landed in a tree, fortunately within my reach. The grilled cheese sandwiches and apple slices I was working on didn’t take too long, so there wasn’t time for any more kite flying that day.

On Thursday, when I arrived to pick my children up from after school care, there were three police cars parked at the intersection where I turned to park. I asked the caregivers what was going on. They shooed my daughters away to retrieve their backpacks and quickly told me that a man had attempted to abduct a boy at that intersection. The boy got away, but was injured. No one there was sure how badly he was hurt, but a policeman had stopped by to talk to the after school caregivers, to tell them what was going on and to ask questions. The would be abductor had escaped.

I briefly considered not telling my daughters what I’d just learned, but decided that they needed to know that vigilance was important. They’re outgoing little girls who befriend others easily, and lack the instinct to distrust strangers. I told them what I knew, leaving out the part about the boy having been injured, and told them that I was going to ask them not to go out of the house without me, except to our fenced back yard. I promised to take them kite flying in the park after church.

J’s questions were about the boy and what the police were doing to catch the bad man. She walked around our house with me to ensure that all our blinds were closed before bed, and was generally satisfied with our safety. M refused to be in any room without me that first night, but has since relaxed.

I don’t think I’m overreacting. My kids still spend all day at school and after care without me. I still let them let go on my hand on the way to dance class or church or stores once we’re out of the parking lot. I’m just not ready to let them out of the street unless there’s a trusted adult with them. Eventually, though, I’m going to have to let them explore the world without me. I can only pre-screen their peers, teachers, and mentors for a little longer.

That terrifies me.

Sadia is raising her 6-year-old identical twin daughters in the suburbs of Austin, TX. She is divorced and works full time in higher education IT.

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Stroller Insanity

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Categories Ask the Readers, Mommy Issues, ProductsTags , , , , , 15 Comments

Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed about strollers. As the twins are now 3 months old, and I HATE the double Snap-n-Go that we currently use, I’m ready to get a nice double stroller. I feel so insane scouring the internet for stroller reviews and watching YouTube comparisons for hours. It’s not a small purchase, but if I could just make a decision already I’d be able to spend more time playing with my kids or sleeping!

With our first I bought a travel system. I looked for a 3 wheeled one (called a jogger, I now know), because I think I once saw one at the mall and was intrigued that it looked different from the traditional 4-wheeled ones. I must have been more frugal then, because I looked for the cheapest one I could find and didn’t consider the others at all. I don’t think I even test drove any at the store. We ended up with a Baby Trend Expedition, which cost all of $199, including the carseat! But I soon learned that it was pretty bulky and heavy. Recovering from a c-section in the first few weeks, I opted to use the Bjorn when going out with baby. It didn’t get much use as a travel system either, since I ditched the carseat at 6 months, but it’s still a pretty good stroller. Nice big wheels, very comfortable to push and sit in.

When baby was about a year old, we decided it was time for a family trip somewhere out of town. We picked a place not too far, San Diego, and planned some kid-friendly activities like going to the zoo. Suddenly, I realized that our stroller wouldn’t work. It would fit in my car, but with a pack-n-play and all our luggage for the trip, that was a lot to move around. Plus what if we took a tram at the zoo, or used any other sort of public transportation? So, at the last minute, the night before we planned on leaving, I searched Craigslist for another stroller. I happened to find a Maclaren Quest that was a couple years old, made the deal for $100 early in the morning, and picked it up as we were leaving town. I didn’t even know how to open/close it, so we just figured it out as we used it. I think it weighs something like 12 lbs. I liked it so much that after the trip I considered buying myself a new one, but at $100 and in good condition, there really wasn’t any need. It’s serviced us well.

Both those strollers are now collecting dust in the garage. Toddler doesn’t need to be pushed in a stroller anymore as she likes to run around, and though we think of “jogging” in our jogger now and then, laziness always overtakes us.

It’s time for a new stroller. This time a double. This time more pricey. This time more well-researched. This time, weighing somewhere between the last two. Loving our Maclaren, I was all set on getting the twin version. It’s been sitting in my Amazon cart for months. Grandpa has already given us money to pay for it. But the more I thought about it, the more I read about strollers, the more I was doubting my choice. I’ve come to the conclusion that a double just doesn’t work as an umbrella stroller. Too much to fold up and bulky anyway. Plus it weighs almost 24 lbs, which puts it in the range of non-umbrella doubles.

So, I’ve been looking into other types of double strollers. Turns out there are sooooo many! Tandems, side-by-sides, stacked, re-positionable, carseat adaptable, forever-air tires, one-hand fold, independent recline… one can get sucked into the madness that is stroller comparison. The problem is, since twins are not as prevalent as singles, double strollers are not usually out on sales floors, and for the same reason, you wouldn’t have a “friend’s” to see/test. And the reviews are never-ending, sometimes contradictory, and always refer to yet another previously unresearched stroller for comparison. UGH!

I am leaning towards the Baby Jogger City Mini Double. At under 30″ wide and less than 27 lbs, it’s not too big to stroll around nor too heavy to discourage use.

So the shopping begins. Currently the newest model is the 2012 version. It retails for $450 and I haven’t seen it on sale for much less. The 2011 model is being clearanced, and I have found an orange one for $300. What a steal, right? But I can’t decide if I want to the better seat padding, easier access to the underbasket, and the auto close clip in the newer version. Plus buying the older version would be like buying last year’s car model. A little anti-climatic. Still haven’t decided…

What are you all pushing around?

lunchldyd is mom to a toddler girl and 3 month old b/g twins. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs who would probably enjoy a walk outside with a new stroller.

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Parenting Petite Kids

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Categories Difference, Prematurity, Products, Unique needsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , 4 Comments

I’m short. People use all sorts of nice euphemisms: petite, vertically challenged, little. At 5’0″ (152 cm), my legs are just long enough to reach the floor when I’m standing. I have to perch on the front edge of your average chair to rest my feet on the ground. If I sit back, my legs swing in a very unprofessional way. I often find myself tucking one or both legs under me at work. As my daughters put it, I’m “a very small mommy.”

My 6-year-olds are very small girls themselves. Their first-grade classmates revel in picking them up and twirling them around. They don’t seem to mind much, instead enjoying being the “cute little ones” of their classes. M just made it out of the 1st percentile on the growth chart, weighing in at 38 lbs (17.2 kg) at age 6 years, 9 months. That’s 3rd percentile, people! She’s a giant! J’s 41 lbs (18.6 kg) puts her in the 10th percentile. She’s come a long way since her 3 lbs 6 oz (1.5 kg) birth weight.

My daughters’ current small stature likely has very little to do with their prematurity. Birth at 33 weeks gestation explains the girls’ low birth weight, but most premature infants catch up with their birth age peers in height and weight by the age of 1 or 2. If you think about it, it makes sense. My girls are 2 months “younger,” measured from conception, than other kids born in May 2006. When they were -2 months old, it was a big deal. At 4 months old, it was still a pretty big deal. At 6 months, J weighed 12 lbs 12 oz, and M weighed 11 lbs 12 oz, and they were on track. At the age 6 years, 2 months doesn’t make all that much of a difference. You can just blame me for their lack of stature.

I suspect it’s much easier to be a short girl than to be a short boy, but society’s gender attitudes is a topic I won’t touch just now. I’ll just say that I don’t perceive myself or my daughters to have any hang-ups about being short.

Being especially small comes with challenges all its own. The world is built for average-sized people, so we make adjustments. We have stools in every room of the house so that we can reach the things we need. I learned what products could be tweaked to accommodate the realities of raising short babies, toddlers, and young children.

Car seats

It takes a lot of blankets to secure a baby of less than 5 lbs in a carseat. from hdydi.comThe first time I dealt with the unique experience of having a super-small child was coming home from the hospital. Our Graco Snugride infant seat was technically okay for a 5-pounder, but how were we to keep the babies from rolling around? The size of the infant head support it came with was laughable in comparison to my littles. The NICU nurses came to the rescue, once again. They showed me how to roll up receiving blankets and layer them around the baby to keep her in place on her first hundred or so car rides.

In the US, we’re taught that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are both at least 1 year old and weigh 20 lbs, and recent recommendations encourage waiting until they’re 2 years old. As I understand it, the weight limit is a matter of having enough mass to resist being thrown in the air in the event of a crash. The age limit has something to do with the length of the spinal cord in comparison to the spine. As my pediatrician put it when I raised a concern about the girls’ legs eventually getting cramped, “Better broken legs than a broken neck.” My girls were well past age 2 before we turned their Britax Marathons forward-facing.

Now that they’re 6, J and M continue to wear 5-point harnesses in their Diono (formerly Sunshine Kids) Radians. Their classmates are all in booster seats, but M doesn’t meet the 40-lb weight minimum, and I’m in no hurry to reduce the girls’ level of containment in the car. Again, it doesn’t seem to bother them too much, although I occasionally get nasty looks at how long we spend getting the girls situated getting in and out of the car at the school pickup drive through. They can buckle and unbuckle themselves, but two buckles each necessarily take longer than one a piece.

Shoes

M and J started walking at 12 and 11 months, respectively. They both wore infant size 2 shoes at the time. There are very few walking shoes that come in a size 2. I certainly couldn’t find any. I ended up resorting to custom shoes ordered from Preschoolians in their “Walkers” line. They weren’t cheap, but they did allow us to go to the park without fear of stones and splinters in the girls’ feet. It wasn’t long before J and M were walking into daycare in the morning instead of me carrying them.

M tends to end up in light up shoes even at age 6; it’s hard to find sturdy, comfortable, school-appropriate shoes in a kid size 9.5. J’s a size bigger, and there are many more options open to her.

Clothes

Clothes weren’t quite the same challenge as shoes. Preemie clothes were gargantuan on the girls the first few months, but once they fit newborn sizes, it was easy–and so much fun–to shop for them.

J and M will be 7 in a few months. I just gave away the last of their size 4T clothes on Freecycle, because they’re fitting comfortably in 5Ts in most brands. When it comes to clothes that can fit loosely, such as sweatshirts and T-shirts, I can shop all the way to an XXS. The nice thing about being little is that M and J get a lot of hand-me-downs, and some hand-me-ups, from friends.

The girls have been wearing the same 4-6 sized tights for 3 winters in a row now, and they’re starting to fall apart. I’m not complaining. I remember how expensive it used to be to dress two kids when they were growing into new sizes every 3-5 months.

J and M’s first public school in El Paso had a uniform. We had trouble finding uniform shirts to fit them, so they just ended up wearing their XXS shirts baggy. I couldn’t get khaki bottoms that wouldn’t fall down at the store recommended by the school, but ended up finding good options online at French Toast.

Shopping carts/high chairs

For a long time, I’d go to the grocery store with one baby in a front carrier and the other in an infant seat placed in the cart. However, even though this continued to be practical weight-wise, by the time the girls were one, they wanted to sit in the cart and look around. The first time I tried, they flopped all over the place, and I gave up. M and J regaled nearby shoppers with wails and demands to “Sit cart! Sit cart!” as I pulled out the double stroller to try Plan B.

Ikea came to the rescue. They had an inflatable cushion that I could place around the girls to keep them propped up and contained. Unfortunately, they no longer sell it in the US. It was genius! I also used this cushion in restaurant high chairs to great effect.

How do your kids compare to others in size? Do you have any product recommendations to help kids on the smaller end of the size spectrum?

Sadia is the single mother of 6-year-old identical twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX area, where Sadia works in higher education information technology.

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Balance in Baby Proofing

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Categories Balance, Co-parenting, Infants, SafetyTags , , 8 Comments

We purchased our first home in anticipation of having a child, and found out that we would be having twins soon before we moved in. I was prepared to install every baby proofing gizmo known to mankind, but my husband had other ideas. When I proposed baby gates on either side of our the kitchen area of our open living space, he argued that our children should be included in food preparation and taught kitchen safety. My suggestion of foam bumpers on the corners of our dining table was countered with a recommendation that we see how old the twins were before they were tall enough for those corners to be a concern. I wanted to invest in a television cabinet that could be closed against inquisitive fingers, but my husband believed that children should be taught their limits within an adult world, instead of having a limited area of the world cordoned off for them.

I think we struck a healthy balance on the baby proofing front. A couple of the lower kitchen cabinets had baby latches, keeping the girls away from electronics and chemicals. They had free access to pots, pans, and food storage containers. We installed outlet covers on unused electrical outlets, but we taught the babies not to touch plugs instead of preventing their access to them. The only significant injury suffered by either of our daughters was a magnificent bump on J’s head from diving off the couch at around age 2. I was right there, but didn’t quite reach her in time to prevent her head from hitting the tile. I called 9-1-1, but the paramedics declared J perfectly fine and concussion-free.

The girls’ cribs were our 100% safe spot. My husband insisted on solid wood construction without any moving pieces. I insisted that the cribs not have bumpers, because of the suffocation hazard, and used sleep sacks to keep them warm. When I absolutely had leave the babies, they went in their cribs. Yes, even mothers of twins must use the bathroom, and even shower occasionally. We were lucky that M and J had never thought to climb out of their cribs by the time we deemed them ready for big girl beds.

The knowledge that M and J can understand and honour limits has always made me feel like I can handle them in any situation. My mother is astonished that I’ve always taken the girls everywhere with me, starting at about 6 weeks of age – to work functions, on playdates, shopping, to restaurants, to parks, fairs and festivals, and to friends’ houses. Frankly, Mum was surprised that I felt comfortable taking the babies anywhere. It never occurred to her that one could go out with a baby, because our home had been a completely safe space during my childhood, and household staff ensured 24/7 oversight of my younger sister by the time she was born.

Honestly, the day that the children and I don’t leave the house was a rare one when we lived in an area I knew well. As with many people, I may have reacted to an extreme in my own childhood—a narrow, protected world—by taking my own parenting to other extreme. In retrospect, my husband’s foresight in teaching our children limits within the home has given J and M discipline and given me confidence as a mom. It’s this discipline and confidence that has enabled us to hunt worms, ride bikes, “fish” in puddles, enjoy theatre and make new friends.

To what extent is/was your home baby proofed? Is there a relationship between the degree of baby proofing that was right for your family and the frequency with which you explore the larger world with your kids?

Sadia is a working mom of 5-year-old identical twin girls, J and M. She used to blog publicly at Double the Fun, but took her blog private as the girls entered elementary school.

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Confessions of a Scared Twin Mom

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Often when I read this blog – and the personal blogs of its contributors – I feel like the biggest twin-mommy slacker in the world.  I love my children. I have (I think) complete control of all situations within, and within walking distance of, our home. I am confident. I feel like I handle situations with grace. But I have a confession to make: I have only ventured out (alone) with the twins once. And – with the exception of one emergency trip to the pedicatrician – I have never taken all three of my children out by myself.

I could try and blame it on my routine and how I don’t want to “disturb” anything. But the truth is, I’m scared! How would I handle a double (or triple) meltdown? What if something happens to ME? When I think of venturing out with them, these are the things running through my mind. And since I’ve never HAD to go anywhere alone with all of them, I’m still a novice in this area.

 But that all changes tonight.

And we’re doing it in a big way. Dinner out of the house.

Why? Why, why, why would I start with dinner out of the house as my first venture? Dinner is the beginning of our finely tuned nighttime routine. Why would any sane (?) MOT choose this time of day to try something new? Well, because we were invited somewhere. And at this point, I feel like if I go even one more week without taking this step forward in my mothering career, they may revoke my twin-mom club priveledges.

So, tonight I will leave work, pick up the children and head off to a dinner date where the ratio will be six kids (under 4 years old) to two moms. Hopefully they will eat something (I am not even hoping that I will be able to eat something!) and hopefully I will not be the one crying.

This is a big step for me. I’ll confess that I’m scared but it MUST be done. 

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