With the dog days of summer quickly approaching, I’m desperately searching for ideas on what to do in August with my young brood. Every day I try to add another kid-friendly venue within a 100-mile radius to my growing list—parks, museums, the movies. (Would a trip to the Mojave Desert really be too hot now?)
You see if we’re not on the go, my three sons, eight-year-old fraternal twins and a six-year-old, will eventually wear me down. I can see it now—my husband comes home one evening to find me curled up on the floor in a dark corner muttering, “This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass,” while my kids sit unaware and wide-eyed in front of a blaring TV watching their 200th Tom and Jerry cartoon.
It’s the plight of every parent who stays home with her kids full time. And, unfortunately, often parents of multiples feel the brunt of isolation and frustration even more intensely as it seems nearly impossible to get out the door on some days. Granted, I have lots more options now that my twins are older. For instance, they’ll actually sit in their seats to watch the movie as opposed to crawling across the sticky, soda-stained floor or won’t run in opposite directions at the park just to watch the look of exasperation on my face. Yet when I was a new mom of twins, I also felt the inaccessibility and loneliness. But I quickly figured out that I would have to make my own fun with the kids and that meant sucking it up and getting out the door with them, no matter how difficult. As I look back I’m proud that I never let having young twins stop me from doing just about anything with them. And you shouldn’t either.
When they were just six months old, for instance, we flew alone on a plane to Reno where my sister was attending a convention. (OK, so it was a short plane ride and I had booked them each a seat, but it was a huge feat nonetheless.) We took the twins everywhere, even to the hottest restaurants in town. During those evenings, I learned to rock them back and forth to sleep in their stroller with one hand while balancing a glass of wine in the other.
Once after four days of solid rain and thinking if I didn’t get out of the house I’d lose my mind, I grabbed a clear plastic tarp from the garage and an umbrella, packed my then toddlers into the car and headed for downtown. Once there I covered the top of their double stroller in plastic and strolled down the street. We stopped in a bookstore, got a bit of ice cream, and danced in the music shop. It was a great day, one that surely saved my sanity.
Even when I was pregnant (I mean really pregnant) with my third son, I took my multiples to Chuck E Cheese’s. (What was I thinking?) When they insisted on crawling through the play tunnels, I felt I needed to follow along. After all, they were only two years old at the time. It wasn’t a pretty sight—two fast moving toddlers trailed by a middle-age mom with heavy backpack and bulging stomach barely able to fit through the tubes.
That was one of many trying times—I have the gray hairs and perspiration-stained shirts to prove it—but with each new outing, my confidence grew. I diligently planned and prepared the night before (good maps and a good stroller are a must), and often relied on close friends with lots of sick days stock piled at work to tag along, and more importantly, the kindness of strangers. Regardless of how the rest of the world may view us at the moment, Americans are indeed the friendliest people on the planet. I’ve had strangers help me lug a loaded double stroller down a flight of stairs (can’t remember how I got myself into that predicament), hold doors for me, carry heavy parcels to my car, and even loan me cash when I had forgotten my wallet. It was all because they had a soft spot in their heart for the brave mother of multiples.
My can-do sense of adventure does run deep, though. I remember my mom, a stay-at-home parent, took me everywhere when I was young. She used to love to tell the story of how back in the early 1960s she stood in line for three hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City just so she could show my two young sisters and me a glimpse of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa on loan from the Louvre. Now standing in line for three hours with twins would be a lesson in patience (could you imagine triplets?), and traveling by airplane with infant twins may be a bit much, but the point is clear—just get up and go. The benefits to everyone are too great. Not only will you feel a sense of renewal and accomplishment (even if the day doesn’t go as smoothly as you had hoped), but also you’ll be teaching your children about their world around them. If you start taking them out when they’re little, they’ll adapt to nearly every social situation sooner rather than later. They only way to teach children how to behave in public is to take them out in public. Don’t let children—especially multiples—keep you from venturing outside.
Now load up that diaper bag and go plan that great summer adventure.