In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Monday, June 1, 2015

Two Against One -Tips for taking twins out of the house by yourself.

Yes, I am a stay at home mom of twins.  

No, I do not stay at home all of the time!

And no, taking two infant twins out of the house is not the same as taking two kids who are different just isn't.

And while some may think it would be easier with twins, because "twins are on the same schedule and do the same thing all of the time".  It isn't easier, and they aren't the same all of the time.  They may not sleep or eat at the same time, in order to prove to you that they are individual beings, yet somehow, they are likely to sympathy cry together or have a toddler tantrum at the same time.  It's just what twins do.

And let's not even get started on the amount of time it takes to get two babies out of the house, loaded in car seats, unloaded from the car and into the double stroller.  I assure you it is much easier with one baby, because when we have one-on-one time with our boys, I am always amazed at how much faster it is to get from point A to point B with one baby.  For those of you with triplets or more, I stand and applaud you for leaving the house with your crew!

While it isn't always easy, I take my twin boys with me to the grocery store every week, and they run any necessary errands with me all of the time.  

We visit family.  We visit friends.  We even meet family and friends for lunch and shopping.....although not too often, as this is not exactly easy for us to do yet.  

We go on walks in the neighborhood, and we'll even switch up the scenery and go on walks at some of the local parks.  

I take both boys to their doctor appointments..... and to my doctor appointments. 

They go with me to the seasonal consignment sales, first Saturday of the month shopping at Goodwill, and they have been known to be my garage sale buddies a time or two.

Is it easy taking infant or toddler twins out of the house?  No. 

Is it necessary to take them out of the house?  Yes.  

For one, I can't do everything from the confinement of my living room.  Yes, I do shop online when I find a good deal or when it is convenient.  Yes, there are places like Pea Pod that will deliver groceries to your front door, although it is a bit pricier than going out to the store.  But even if I never had to go shopping with the twins, I still need to take the twins out of the house to go to doctor appointments and social outings.

Secondly, I NEED to get out of the house!  No, seriously, it does me good to get out of my yoga pants and go somewhere.  For my own sanity, I need to leave my house a few times a week. I love being a stay at home mom, but staying home all of the time drives me nuts!  When our pediatrician told us to keep the boys home the first eight weeks of their life, I thought I was going to go insane!  Getting out of the house with the twins is not just good for me, because I get things done.  It is good for me, because it helps me to feel healthy and normal.

Here are some things that have made leaving the house with twins a little easier when it is just me taking them out......

Timing Is Everything
  • Work around the baby schedule!
    • When my twins were in the infant carriers, I would leave the house to go to the grocery store just before their nap time.  They would fall asleep in the car, and I could quietly move them from the car to the snap and go stroller without waking them up.  They would finish their nap in the store, and when they woke up, I would have their bottle ready for them to take in the store.  
    • Nap time was also how I got an hour walk in each day.  Last fall, when my infant twin sons were taking three naps a day, I'd walk for an hour during their 5:00 nap.  They loved to fall asleep in the stroller, and I needed to burn the calories.  It was win-win!

    • Now that my boys are no longer in the infant carriers, I go to the store right after their morning naps, and get home just in time for lunch. During morning naps, I pre-make lunch, pack the diaper bag and have everything ready, so I don't waste any time getting out the door.
    • When I make longer drives to visit family, I coordinate my drive time with the boys' nap time.  They are good car sleepers if we are driving during nap time.  This almost guarantees me that they will be in a good mood when we make it to our destination.
    • I also try to plan doctor appointments around the baby schedule.
  • Watch the clock!
    • My boys are only content awake in a stroller for 60-90 minutes.  They do great for about an hour, but after that, they need to get up and move!  
    • Because being in a stroller for several hours is not easy on any of us, I have to plan small trips a few times a week, instead running several errands at once.
Pick a Good Travel/Shopping System
  • The snap and go stroller
    • This was the best infant double stroller!  I loved it!  I used it until the twins were 11 months old and outgrew their infant carriers.
    • I loved it, because it was light, compact and took up little space in my car.  It was easy to maneuver, and it was easy to get the twins from the car to the stroller.  It also had a good amount of underneath storage.
    • I had my grocery shopping system perfected when we were using the snap and go stroller!  I took four reusable shopping bags with me to the store and a grocery list that was organized with the following categories: produce, pantry, cold/dairy, baby.  I would fill one bag with produce, and then lift a car seat up to put the filled bag in the underneath storage part of the stroller.  The second bag I would fill with pantry items, and do the same.  The third bag was my cold and dairy items. Lastly, I'd fill a bag of baby items and carry that bag on my shoulder, as I could only fit three filled bags underneath.  When I went to check out, I'd ask the cashier to bag everything the same way I did.  I even did my Thanksgiving shopping this way and managed to fit a turkey in the bottom of the stroller!

  • Baby Carriers
    • We typically used our baby carriers, when we were going out as a family, and Mommy and Daddy could each carry a baby.  
    • But there were a few times when I needed to go to the store to get regular groceries and bigger items, like boxes of diapers or bottled water.  During those shopping trips, I would put one baby in the shopping cart and strap the other baby on me in the baby carrier.
    • I did not find this to be ideal, only because of the amount of time it took me to get a baby strapped to me in the carrier.
  • Double Child Shopping Cart
    • God bless the person who invented the double child shopping cart!  After my kids outgrew their infant car seats, they were big enough for the double child shopping carts at Target.  I'm a Target shopper for many reasons, but the double shopping cart is just one more reason for me to do my shopping at Target!  I purposefully park close to a child cart that I have spotted in the parking lot.  I don't care if the only double cart in the parking lot is a mile from the entry of the store.....I will park that far out for one of these carts!  And if I can't find the double child shopping cart in the parking lot, I will put one baby in a regular cart, carry the other baby in my arms, and when we get into the store, I will look for the double cart and then switch out carts.  That's how much I, how much I need one of these carts when I go shopping with twin toddlers!

  • Double Stroller
    • Unfortunately, every other mom with two kids also needs the double child shopping cart, and Target only has twelve of the double carts.  I know that, because I have asked. There are times when I have to put the boys in our double stroller, and do my shopping using the stroller and reusable shopping bag system. The only problem I have is that I don't get as good of underneath storage in the duo glider double stroller, as I did in the snap and go stroller.  It's certainly not ideal, but it works when I need it to.
    • The duo glider tandem stroller is also great for the tight aisles at any store, not just the grocery store.  It also maneuvers well for our daily walks around the neighborhood.

  • Toddler Harness
    • I am not opposed to the toddler harness now that I have toddlers!  I just ordered two of the back pack harnesses for vacations!
    • These will be great for places like the zoo.  My boys need to burn energy, but they are too small to know boundaries.  You let them out of the stroller to walk, and they will immediately run into danger!  The harness allows them to do what toddlers love to do - MOVE AROUND - without getting themselves hurt. 
Always Be Prepared
  • Keep the diaper bag packed with the essentials.  One of my twins seems to struggle with motion sickness.  There have been many times when I pull into a parking lot and have to clean out a car seat and change a baby before I'm even able to load two babies into the stroller.
  • Have bottles or pacifiers ready if needed.  During my twins' well checks, I always had bottles ready after shots, so I could calm one baby down easily and load him up in the stroller while the other one got his shots.
  • If for some reason, you do get to the store and forget the double stroller....which has only happened to me once....know that you can put one baby in the back of the cart and one baby in front.  This is certainly not recommended for safety reasons, but you do what you gotta do sometimes!

Know Your Limits
  • Weather
    • Ughhh! Midwest winters will be the death of me!  I hated them before I had kids, but now I loath them even more as a stay at home mom!
    • November through April any of the following, should be expected! Snow, slush, ice, freezing rain, cold rains, wind, frigid temps, sub zero wind chills.....all of these things prevented me from leaving my house unless it was absolutely necessary. 
    • If it was cold outside, I could put the cart covers over the carriers, and still leave the house.  
    • If it was snow, slush or ice, I couldn't go out, due to my limited abilities with a stroller and winter terrain.  
    • If it was freezing temps and wind chills....well, I just wasn't taking my babies out of the house. 
  • Sickness
    • Winter combined with teething often brought sickness to my babies, which kept me home more than I would have liked.
    • When the weather wasn't good or when my babies were sick, I would just go to the store or run my errands after the boys went to bed at night, or I would have my husband pick things up on the way home from work.  It certainly wasn't convenient, but that's what needed to be done.

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