Question of the Week: I’m a stay-at-home mom with 18-month-old fraternal twin boys. They are very active! I would love to take them to the park by myself so they can run around but I’m so afraid that they will run off in opposite directions and that I’ll lose them! I know that sounds a bit paranoid on my part but it’s a real fear. Any suggestions before I go crazy inside this winter?
Answer: We’ve all been in your shoes—home alone with the twins about to go stir-crazy but nearly paralyzed with fear to venture out, thinking that something sinister or bad will happen. After all, how can we keep up when it’s two-against-one? But it’s not only possible but an empowering experience to head out alone to your neighborhood park with your twins! Below are just a few tips to help make the day a success.
Nothing bad is going to happen.
Seriously. It’s going to be just fine. Yes, there will be tense moments. Yes, they may whine and cry. Yes, there may even be a time when you lose sight of one twin (or, God forbid, both) but nothing bad is going to happen. You are a competent mom, able to handle an emergency if one arises, so relax and breathe deeply.
Choose your destination wisely.
Choose a small park in a nice neighborhood, away from heavily traveled streets. (Or ask other new moms for their recommendations.) Some parks even offer gated areas for the younger set—a life saver! Choose a destination with age-appropriate play structures, too, ones specifically geared towards toddlers and preschoolers, avoiding parks with play structures meant for the older kids (think rope swings and the like).
Pack plenty of sand toys, soccer balls, riding toys, snacks and cold drinks. Why so much stuff? When one or both toddlers get antsy, you can quickly switch gears and focus their attention on something else. If they begin to squabble over who gets to ride the red trike, for instance, divert them with a favorite snack or treasured sand toy. Crisis averted! Yes, it’s a lot of gear for one mom to haul, to be sure, but better to have too much than not enough. That’s when a wagoncomes in very handy, especially if you add the tag-along trailer, perfect for stowing all your twins’ paraphernalia.
Review the rules with your twins before you venture out.
Although your twins are only two years old, it’s never too early to talk about good behavior and what you expect of them when you go to the park. Review the day with your boys, explaining how important it is for them to listen to you. Obviously, they will push the boundaries more than once on your outing so give them a stern warning or two. But if they continue to misbehave and run off, pack up and go home. Yes, they will scream. Yes, it will cause a scene. (Yes, you will break a sweat.) But if you follow through, they will quickly learn that you mean business and future visits to the park will be much more pleasant.
Wear a whistle (and don’t be afraid to use it).
Sounds a bit crazy but it works. Wear a whistle around your neck and explain to your boys that it’s your “emergency whistle.” When they hear you blow it, it means come quickly! At the very least, having a whistle can alert everyone around you just in case one of both of your twins does happen to slip out of sight for an extended period of time.
Dress your twins alike in bright colors.
This is the one time I believe it’s perfectly fine to dress your twins alike. Not only does dressing them alike in bright colors make it easier to spot both boys, it helps others to spot them, too, if your boys manage to wander off and you need help in locating them.
Take along a friend.
Strength in numbers, girlfriend! Maybe another stay-at-home mom would like to join you? Even though she needs to watch her own child, just having an extra pair of hands to help out in a pinch can be a life-saver to a mom with twins.
Know when it’s time to go home.
You may have just left home a mere hour ago but if your sons are not cooperating with you, be the “Mean Mommy,” pack up, and go home. Similarly, if it’s getting close to dinner time or even nap time, don’t press your luck by staying. The situation can turn from idyllic to hellish in just a matter of minutes.
Don’t get discouraged if you have a less-than-perfect afternoon.
There’s no such thing as a perfect outing with young twins! But with practice, you can get pretty darn close. So don’t give up!