Leaving home with your twins and going anywhere can feel like relocating a circus. There are times the task seems so daunting that I stay at home to avoid the hassle. But then other times I recognize that if I want to keep my sanity – I MUST GET OUT! As my kids grow, the logistics change and so I am by no means an expert at this but there were a few tricks I learned over the past year that I still use.
The mother’s room. During the first 5 months I was breastfeeding my twins. I had never been able to develop enough milk to sustain them both completely but I was able to feed them half breast milk and half formula. So this meant I had the joy of preparing bottles and breastfeeding. (Pumping never worked well for me either.) We have a minivan that was great for breastfeeding on the go because I could climb into the back seat. But, that being said it was inconvenient to sit in a parking lot in the sweltering heat and try to breastfeed one child while my husband juggled the steering wheel and bottle fed an infant. (No, not while driving!) That’s when I discovered the glorious mother’s room at Buy Buy Baby! (BabiesRUs and Nordstrom also have them.) This quiet, temperature controlled, dark room was perfect for my needs. It had two plush rockers and a changing table. Once we made this discovery it became part of our normal routine. Joe would come in with me to help out. We never had any complaints or comments about this – it was pretty obvious that with twins I needed the help. If any other moms came in, Joe would offer to leave. (In all cases for us, the other moms either were there to change a diaper and didn’t care if he stayed or offered to return in 10 minutes when we were done. They were all very gracious and kind to us.) We were almost always in need of something even if it was just butt paste so we always tried to make a purchase from the store as a thank you for providing such great amenities to their customers.
Each Saturday we would leave the house at the beginning of morning nap time and drive an hour and half to the nearest BuyBuyBaby. (Side Note: I would shower while Joe watched the kids in their swing or bouncer immediately after their first feeding. Then I would get the diaper bag packed, etc while he took his shower. Then he would go ahead and load them up and if I still needed to get dressed or blow dry my hair, he would drive them around in circles to give me a few extra minutes. Most of the time I would put my makeup on in the car.) The twins would sleep through the drive and wake up just in time for us to go to the mother’s room and feed them. Then we had two happy babies that we could take with us to the restaurant or to go shopping. It’s important to note that we kept an eye on the time and would always head back home in keeping with the afternoon nap so that Lily and Levi would be happy travelers.
Make the mundane an exciting event. I’ve read that many twin moms do their grocery shopping in the evening after they put their kids down for the night and their hubby can keep an eye on them. That setup never worked for me because I was too worn out by the time I got my kids in bed. Yes, it was only 7pm but what can I say? I’m over 30. So, we started doing our grocery shopping together as a family and made it fun by going to the Wegman’s store that is near our local BuyBuyBaby. Wegman’s is like the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of grocery stores. They have exotic fruits from distant lands, rare fermented cheeses that would peel paint with their fumes and I’m not kidding – $1000.00/lb truffles! They also have great prices on the stuff for us normal folks like bread and lunch meat. We go there at least once per month and stock up on all the goodies. Another favorite store is Trader Joe’s. We have one that is about an hour away and so that works for our nap routine as well. Since the twins were about 2 months old, we began making our weekend day trips in this way and they got used to eating with us in restaurants and shopping with us.
Going to the grocery store alone isn’t for the faint of heart. As I mentioned above, I avoid it as much as I can but sometimes you have no choice. I’ve read about twin moms that will push a double stroller and a cart around the store. I personally would have a panic attack trying to attempt that so I use stroller hooks and reusable shopping bags. When the twins were in their infant car seats I would use the Joovy Double Stroller or later on the Bob Duallie Double Stroller.
As you can see, both strollers have a small underneath storage area but I use the stroller hooks on the handlebars to increase the amount I can carry. (Note – be mindful of the amount of weight you are putting on the back end of the Bob Stroller. You don’t want it to tip backwards.)
Pack your diaper bag the night before an outing. Give yourself a little head start the night before by washing all your bottles, sippy cups, etc. and getting together all needed items for your diaper bag. This will save you a lot of headache the next morning. I always take an extra reusable grocery tote with spare blankets, jackets or anything else I think I might need when gone for the day. I started doing this when Levi got an upset stomach and vomited ALL OVER himself and his car seat. It was freezing cold outside but I had to use his blanket (which already had some throw up on it) to mop up all the nastiness. This left me in a pickle without his blanket so I had to wrap him up in a spare jacket my husband had left in the van. If your kid tends to “toss their cookies”, it would be a safe bet to include a spare shirt for yourself in that extra bag! I would also always take bottles and formula for one extra feeding. Even though I hardly ever had to use it, I felt better knowing my twins would not go hungry if we got a flat tire or something.
Pick a noisy restaurant if you feel nervous. If you are feeling uneasy about handling the logistics of your twins while trying to enjoy a meal out, pick a restaurant that already has a lot of background noise. Places like Texas Roadhouse are great because they already have people throwing peanut shells on the floor and every hour or so they turn the music up and the servers do a little country music jig. Levi went through a phase of sharing every other bite of food with the floor (How generous right?) and so we fit right in there. All that being said, most people are very kind and helpful when we dine out. Most restaurants are very accommodating and they have even moved things around to make room for our double stroller! Other diners are usually very sweet to the twins and are curious to see how they interact.
If at first you don’t succeed; try and try again! When my twins were about a month old I got up the courage to venture out with my mom. We went to one grocery store and I had a car seat in the lower part of the shopping cart and then I wore the other twin in a wrap carrier. We were only there for an hour but the babies got hungry and started wailing. I gave up on the last quarter of my shopping list and tried to checkout as soon as possible. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by it all and completely defeated. I thought that since it was a stressful failure even with my mom’s help then I could never manage navigating a store with twins by myself! Don’t give up! Set a goal for yourself to try again in a few weeks time. You will find that as your twins get older, you will begin to feel more confident in caring for them. I also think hormones had a lot to do with my anxiety at the store and those too will calm down as more time passes since you gave birth.
I would love to hear from other twin moms about your adventures leaving home with the twins and any tips you might have to share!
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