It's challenging enough for a new mom to go out and about with a baby. Have you packed enough diapers? Clothing? Bottles? Going out with two or more small children can be so intimidating, a mom may not even try.
Looking back, I was on-the-go and mobile with my first. Four years later, when my twins arrived, I felt like the babies, my son and I were under house arrest. Over time, however, we did manage to make a few public appearances. Here are some strategies for how a mom of one or many can get herself and her offspring out of the house:
Hire a young helper: Often, all you need is an extra pair of hands and speedy feet, and those appendages can belong to a teenager, or even a preteen neighbor. Such a mother's helper can help push a stroller, carry a bag, entertain a cranky infant in the backseat while you drive, chase after a toddler or two while you're busy nursing a baby.
Go out with another mom: Partner up so you can help one another. For instance, one mom can stay in the car with the babies while the other runs into the supermarket for diapers (and Starbucks for the adults).
Scope out the exits: Try to find a playground or play area that's fenced, with only one way in (and out). Then stand guard at the gate.
Use color coding: If you're going someplace where you'll have to keep track of your child or children in a crowd, dress yours in easy-to-spot clothing or colors. Doing so will help you locate your child among the masses and reduce the number of panic moments you have while trying to recognize and count kids.
Supersize it: Many supermarkets and big-box stores have shopping carts that safely seat multiple children, including infants. Identify these stores so you can shop when you need to and also get the gang out of the house.
Deputize: I'm an oldest child, and I know the pros and cons of burdening a first born with too much responsibly. But when you have several children, your oldest is sometimes the only assistant you have. My son helped hold his sisters' hands when we crossed streets, he told me when one wiggled out of her car seat.
Label your kids: You can tag your children with their names, your name, and cell phone number. This can be done by sewing labels into their clothing, putting name tags on their jackets (think ski-lift tickets), or by having them wear accessories such as bracelets or necklaces featuring the contact information. (The last option only works if your child won't remove the jewelry.) Another way to be prepared is to keep a current picture of your children in your wallet. If ever needed, you can show fellow searchers who you're looking for, or prove that a found child is yours. (Some companies make actual identification cards for children, complete with a photo, fingerprint, vital stats, and contact information.)
Ask for help: Store clerks, other parents who are out and about, even passersby will help you watch or locate a child or carry a stroller up a flight of stairs. Sometimes folks will see your need, other times all you need to do is ask.
About the Author:
Melissa Stanton is the mother of a boy and twin girls and author of The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-Tested Strategies for Staying Smart, Sane, and Connected While Caring for Your Kids (Seal Press/Perseus Books). Visit her blog at Real Life Support for Moms.
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