After I gave birth to Henry & Emily, I didn’t leave my hospital room for 3 days. It wasn’t out of fear or orders from my doctor, but because that one little room had everything I needed to nurture both my recovery and my daunting new mother-of-two tasks. I didn’t even miss the outside world!
Then…we came home.
As my strength grew back day by day, so did my desperate need to rejoin civilization. At that point I just wanted to feel human again. When you’re roughing those first few weeks and months of sleep deprivation, you crave even the slightest ounce of normalcy. I’ll never forget when I ventured into town on my first solo-outing since having the babies. Sean watched the twins for a couple of hours while I went out for a heavenly blended iced coffee and to get groceries. That was a magnificent couple of hours!
Sadly though, getting out of the house regularly and on your own takes some serious coordination (and financial planning for a sitter/nanny without family nearby), so these past 5 months have taught me lots of great lessons on getting out of the house WITH the twins when Sean’s at work.
Whether you have 1, 2, or 6 little ones (like my mom hero, Danielle Busby, mom of quints and a 5 year old!) you’ve got to get out of the house with those little ones for your sanity. Here are 6 things that I’ve found helpful when braving the outside world. Hope they help many of you out there whether you’re on maternity leave or a stay-at-home mom/dad:
Walk every day.
First and foremost – wait to go for walks until your doctor/midwife gives you the “okay” to do so. Much of the first few months postpartum was my mind saying “Let’s goooo!” but my body saying “Let’s not!!!” Listen to your body. Take it nice and slow. Exercise routines will come, but baby steps for now.
That said – when you ARE ready, walks are like gold. You’ll breathe in and out some much needed fresh air, you see other people going about their day, and if you’re lucky…your baby/babies will fall asleep in the stroller. Walks have instantly settled the fussiest of hours for my twins, so we’ve made it an afternoon staple to walk at least around the block a few times. Meanwhile, you get to enjoy fresh air and a workout all in one! WIN! If your neighborhood isn’t necessarily walking-friendly, research nearby parks and running paths.
To my fellow Owasso-area mamas: here are my favorite go-to stroller friendly paths when I need a change of pace from my neighborhood loop!
Centennial Park – it’s a beautiful park in between a few neighborhoods. My hubby often joins us on weekends and plays frisbee golf with our lab while the twins and I do laps!
Skiatook’s Osage Trail – smoothest and straightest path I’ve found yet. It’s my favorite place to jog with the stroller. The only draw back is that it’s a 20+ minute drive out there. Worth it on a beautiful day though!
River Walk – if you’re down for the half hour drive, the Route 66 River Walk is excellent and has recently been renovated. I love how some parts of the path branch off for cyclists vs walkers. Makes me less paranoid about bicycle-stroller fiascos!
One stop shop.
If you have a long list of things to get that can’t all be found in a grocery store, try aiming your focus on a one-stop-shop type of place instead. I’m all about Target these days. I can get groceries, clothes for the whole family, dog treats for our lab, and stock up on the long list of baby things (diapers, formula, wipes, etc.) that we constantly need. Also…Targets have a Starbucks…..it’s practically heaven.
Or, find a good outdoor mall that has a grocery store along with other shops you’ll need next door. The less car-stroller-car-stroller dances you can to do, the better.
If you have just one baby, you can usually put the car seat into the shopping cart without any problem. If you have multiples…haah…different story! I’ve found that attaching big carabiners to either side of your stroller works wonders! I simply hook on the hand-held baskets on either side so that I can load up small sized groceries in one, and other items in the other. I might look ridiculous with a double stroller AND two side baskets…but I’m used to being a spectacle when I go out with twins! Just try not to make too much eye contact with people and keep on strollin’ ;). When I get to the checkout counter, all I have to do is unhook the baskets, then re-hook the bagged items once I’m all checked out. Works like a charm.
Ask for & accept help.
When I meander around Target or the grocery store with my double stroller, I pretty much give up on toting around big, heavy items. If I know in advance what large items I’ll need, I’ll find a store clerk and ask sweetly if they wouldn’t mind taking those big items to guest services and reserving it under my name for my check out. This way I don’t have to use my babies’ stroller as an awkward shopping cart! Winnn!
Most stores, if they’re considerate, will notice my purchases at the checkout AND my two babies and ask if I need help getting these things to the car.
“You’re so sweet to ask! YES! I would LOVE your help!”, I joyfully reply. I get the help I need, they feel good for helping…everyone wins!
If they don’t offer…ask. You’re a paying customer; the least they could do is have someone waiting for you at the store’s front door and help load it into your trunk.
Timing is everything.
“When’s the next feeding?” is a constant question I ask myself. If I plan to leave the house that day, I’ve gotta be on my game when it comes to timing. As soon as those sweet babies are fed, burped, and changed into dry diapers, I’m all “OK! GO! GO! GOOOOOO!” I’ve got roughly 3 hours until the next feeding, so I’d like to be back home before then.
I let the babies play in their walkers as I make sure the stroller is packed in the car. I double check the diaper bag for diapers, wipes, 2 clean bottles, and pre-measured formula for mixing. I usually keep all of this in the diaper bag and only break it out if I have to, especially if the outing won’t get me home by the next feeding.
I strap each baby into their car seats, waddle them both to the car (so heavy these days!), do one last mental checklist (cell phone? purse? how much time to I have before the next feeding?) and off we go!
I’m not gonna lie, knowing how much time you have left is kind of a buzz kill when you’re joyfully strolling along, soaking in the outside world, but it’s so important for happy smiling babies when you’re out and about.
Timing is also important when it comes to where you’re going. I usually try to go anywhere public at a time when stores are the quietest. Otherwise you’re asking for trouble. Most people love babies, but babies don’t always love people. Makes sense to keep the public appearances to a minimum if you can to avoid strangers peaking their head into the stroller. It’s happened to me far too many times. I’m all for talking to people, but sometimes you’re on a schedule and you really don’t want to change the mood of a happy baby if you don’t have to.
When Sean and I have taken Henry & Emily with us to a restaurant, we go at weird times to eat…like 3, or 4pm. Don’t always rely on nap times to work when you’re taking them out to a restaurant. The new sights and sounds could just be enough to wind them up so it’s better to be sure that they’re fed, burped, and changed.
If the twins are playing peacefully in their pack-and-play or walker, I start packing up before the next feeding. It makes the car pack up/home departure go SO much faster!
Once they’re in their stroller, I make sure they have two things: something to hold, and a pacifier on stand-by. Those two things are instant fussiness settlers if you get to that point! 😉
If you bottle feed, be sure to have your bottles ready to go in your fridge for your return home. Far too many times I’ve tried to do “just one more thing!” while I’m out and it’s gone past their feeding time a bit. Woah nelly…they were NOT happy. Far too many meltdowns have reminded me to think ahead before leaving!
Have a little faith.
If at first your outing feels like an epic fail…try try again, my dear! Have a little faith in yourself that your confidence will grow. Also have faith in your baby/babies that they’ll get used to going on more adventures.
I’ve learned that getting out of the house as a stay at home mom of twins doesn’t have to be daunting. I just have to be prepared. If there are meltdowns (and there will be) you’ve got this! Just stay calm, and remember that you’ll never have to see those strangers looking at your screaming baby ever again ;).