Going Out In Public? 5 Tips for Parents of Multiples

Last weekend we decided to go apple picking. This was an ambitious plan. The orchards were 45 minutes away, so the entire expedition had to take place between lunch and afternoon naps. We ran the risk of a triple meltdown of our 3-year-old and her 14-month-old twin brothers. We knew, too, that the orchards would be crowded. We went anyway. It was a successful (if exhausting) adventure, and it served to highlight these lessons on taking your twins out in public.

1. You will be the center of attention. This is something most parents of multiples know already. Taking them out in public draws a lot of attention, especially when they’re babies. Be ready to answer the classic three questions: Are they twins? How old are they? Are they identical or fraternal? Amusingly, a large segment of the populace doesn’t quite understand the last one. On the wagon ride out to the orchard, someone asked, “Are they paternal?” No, they’re a *bit* young for that. Prepare for lots of conversations with strangers. Going out with twins is rather like being a celebrity. The attention’s fun at first, but sometimes you’d like to be left alone.

2. Get help from friends and family. We invited my parents to come apple-picking with us. Looking back, I’m not sure how we would have made this trip without their help. It took all four of to manage our quick-footed 3-year-old, keep the twins entertained, pick apples, and haul around the box of fruit. My parents have this uncanny knack for turning up in clutch moments when we could really use help, and we’re better off for it. Reflecting on that reminds me that, when we announced we were expecting twins, the offers of help and support from friends & family poured in. The amount of actual help that showed up was far less. You have to ask for it, and you shouldn’t hesitate to do so.

3. Bring your own base camp. The night before our trip, we debated on whether we should bring a wagon for the twins or push them in their double stroller. A wagon seems better suited anytime there’s off-roading to do, be it on grass, gravel, sand, or other uneven surfaces. Plus, the boys tend to remain better entertained and engaged in a wagon than a stroller. It’s also harder to drop things from a wagon, though not impossible. Our apple picking trip, however, had two important complications: it promised to be a sunny afternoon, and the orchards are accessible only by hayride. For these two reasons, we went instead with our heavy-duty double umbrella stroller. It had a canopy and also folded up to a more compact size. The wagon, for all its strengths, would probably have been too big for the hayride. All of these are things to consider when you’re choosing the best form of “twin transport”.

4. Preparation is key. Anytime we take the twins out, we prepare like we’re going into battle. This was no exception. We applied baby sunscreen at home while everyone was getting dressed. No sunburns for that beautiful baby skin!. They’ll thank us someday. We packed a cooler with milk (twins), Capri Suns (daughter), and diet soda (us). We had snacks and backup snacks and backup-backup snacks. Camera and camcorder. Hats and sunglasses for everyone. And just in case we changed our minds about the stroller, we brought the wagon too. Gotta love having a minivan! It seems like a lot for a 3-hour trip, but we ended up using just about everything.

5. Take all the memories, leave only footprints (or in our case, an actual shoe). Two things I know about having multiples: it makes every adventure more memorable, and there’s a lot more baby gear to leave behind. I’d love to tell you that we took hundreds of pictures and hours of video to chronicle every moment of apple-picking. Not even close! But we came home with several good photos and eight pounds of apples. Of course, no great adventure comes without a cost. Somewhere between the orchard, the produce store, and the custard shop, one of our twins lost a shoe. We searched in the crowded store for it, we asked at customer service, all to no avail. Amusingly, customer service had a different boy’s shoe (a blue Croc) for the wrong foot. So at least we weren’t alone in leaving behind a trail of possessions.

Go forth and take your twins into the world! They’ll bring delight wherever you go.

About the Author
Dan Koboldt is a father of three little ones. In his rare free time, he writes on the Best of Twins blog about having, raising, and enjoying life with multiples.

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7 comments

  1. Thanks for the tips, we have a 2 year old and triplets coming within the next couple of weeks, so I took notes! Thanks again

  2. We have a 4 year old and 22 month old twins and my friends like to go shopping with me just for the show. I get stopped every 10 feet to be asked the same questions over and over.

    I need a sign:
    Yes, they are twins.
    Boys!
    They are not identical.
    Yes, one is lots bigger.
    How do I do it? I just do cause there is no one to do it for me!

    Every time I turn to the next aisle!! I go out with my 3 by myself a lot. I don’t have a choice, hubby works and some one has to get the groceries and sundries. Plus, I think I would go crazy being at home all day. So out we go. To the market, to the gym, to the park; heck, even to a dairy farm to see where yogurt comes from! We’ve ditched the juice & switched to water so packing the diaper bag is easier. And thank goodness for Goldfish. 😉 Life’s an adventure so you might as well enjoy it, right.

    Now, I have to go pack up. Time for a trip to the zoo. I’m thinking we’ll take the double stroller AND the wagon, too. The poor 4 year old deserves a chance to sit down some, too. 🙂

  3. My twins are 20 months and my singleton is 4, and it’s easier to go out now than it was a year ago – or even 8 months ago. One nap per day, milk is more optional at this point. There are days when I can’t wait to ditch the double stroller – I expect (hope) the random stops and conversations about a stranger’s neighbor’s brother’s friend’s second-cousin who is a twin to end when it’s not so obvious they’re the same age.
    Rachel recently posted…Double Chocolate Zucchini MuffinsMy Profile

  4. Taking my 6 yr old aside and clearly stating the behavior I expect from her and what she can expect has helped a lot during outings. I tell my 3 yr old twins too, but the behavior of my older child can make or break it. I crossed over this summer from being a bit shut in to going for it and taking the three out several times a week. I’m so glad I did b/c we’ve seen so much and have had so much fun.

    The other thing that’s helped is that I befriended another MOM who lives nearby – we’ve done a few outings together this summer. It’s a bit crazy, but it helps having someone who gets it.

  5. We go everywhere often and have since they were about 4 months old. Now they are 4, and our single is 8. If we stayed home we would go crazy. Our kids now handle life outside our home much better then inside. Even if it was super tough when they were little (we camped the first 4 times with pack-n-plays in the tent), it was worth it to build their experiences and have fun as a family. We just have to include “a whole lotta work” into our fun. Great advice Amanda.

  6. I SO remember those days. My daughter is now 6 and my twin sons are now 5 and the attention has waned (thankfully) and I no longer need a pull behind trailor to transport their stuff. Trips are easier, travel is easier, everything is just SO. MUCH. EASIER.
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