The diaper bag is packed to the gills—snacks, water bottles, wipes, diapers. Your twins have shoes on (for now). You have determination. You will take two eighteen-month-old children to the park by yourself. You are not insane.
But how do you make it happen without losing your mind, and packing everyone up two minutes into your adventure?
Choose your battles wisely. Pick the right location. Go to a park with toddler-sized equipment or a children’s museum that has a gated area. Don’t attempt to take them to the playground across the street from an elementary school right after dismissal. That was a situation where our visit lasted two minutes. Lesson learned. When you first start exploring playgrounds, all you will see is the tallest slide and the steepest staircase. But investigate your neighborhood and find the areas that are toddler-friendly.
Pick a good time of day. Toddlers are up early, and they haven’t yet gotten to the phase of lingering over breakfast and demanding blueberries instead of the strawberries you just cut up. My best time with my twins when they were toddlers—after they dropped their morning nap—was first thing in the morning. There weren’t many other families at the park at 9:00 a.m., so it was much easier for me to keep an eye on everyone and run through the playground equipment when a rescue was required.
Stay calm. I know every little ledge, every platform looks like a disaster waiting to happen. But the second your children see —or even just sense—your anxiety, the less fun they’ll have and the more timid they may become. It is important for children to experience fear, especially at this development stage. Let them tiptoe to the edge of a platform, peer down, then decide for themselves it’s a long way down and the best idea is to turn around. Stay close by, but stay calm. They will become more independent children the less you shoo them away from situations you fear. Let them learn to use their instincts.
Accept help. When you do get to a playground or play area that is crowded, remember that it is full of other moms and dads. You aren’t the only one who can see your children. No parent is going to stand by as a child wanders through an open gate.
Grab and go. I was a big fan of the children’s museums at the toddler stage. In the winter we were there once a week. They had great toddler-specific play areas that were gated and I could easily keep an eye on both kids. But one day I felt bold and we wandered to an area that wasn’t gated. My son stays close by, but my daughter is more assertive. At one point, Sydney toddled her way out of the room to look at another exhibit. Ryan was mid-play, but I scooped him up and followed her. When you need to, grab one kid and chase after the other who’s on the run.
You can make getting out and about with your multiples a time of fun instead of fear. The more you get out, the easier it will become. You will learn your own tips and tricks that work best for your family. Have fun and help your growing children explore our beautiful world!
About the Author:
Lisa Katzenberger is a mom of boy-girl twins, a writer, and an Editorial Assistant for Literary Mama. Her work has been published in Multiplicity, PoemMemoirStory, Jenny, and Quality Women’s Fiction, among others. She lives in Chicago. Follow her at twitter.com/fictioncity.