I was at the Aquarium, Izzie on my hip, one eye on Cole and the other on Evie. Wait – where’s Evie? Oh, there she is! Yes, one eye on Evie. Check. A woman with a toddler caught my eye and exclaimed, “Wow! I’m not even brave enough to bring both my kids to the Aquarium and you’re here with three!”
I never know how to respond to these confessions from other Moms. As a Stay-at-Home-Mom, if I didn’t brave the outside world and leave the house with three kids, I’d never leave. So hiding inside doesn’t seem like much of an option. And sure, some places we go are much more painful than other places. (Yes, I’m looking at you Costco and Trader Joe’s). But a place specifically made for kids? It’s not always fun and it’s basically never easy, but I promise you that if I can do it, so can you.
Here are some tips to help you get through it.
When I go somewhere with all three kids we have a 2/3 majority rule. If 2/3 of the kids are losing their minds/not having it/too tired to go on, we stop. I’ll find a way to make it up to the kid that wants to carry on with our plan, but it’s just not worth forcing two miserable kids to go along with whatever we’re trying to do.
Like an obscene amount of snacks. Do not be afraid of a snack break when the kids are hungry or when you just need a break for a minute. When things are going off the rails, we’re a big fan of eating a snack in this weird nook by the penguins at our aquarium. The kids are basically trapped and I can catch my breath and game plan how we’re going to get back on track – or how to get to the nearest exit with the least amount of casualties.
Leaving the house with a carful of kids is like coordinating a trip to the International Space Station. There’s so much crap you COULD need. Diapers, extra clothes, sippy cups, wipes, hand sanitizer, goldfish, blankies, tablet, lollipops for emergencies, this list could end up looking like a packing list for a cross country expedition. Or you could go minimal. I bring two diapers and if we go through those? It’s time to go. My kids can share one sippy up and we’ll keep refilling it. Extra clothes? Nope. You ruin what you have on and we’re riding home in diapers and tighty whiteys. Because I’m not a pack mule and I won’t be just so we can go to the zoo for an hour. (Obviously this one isn’t a huge option if you’re doing a full day outing like Disneyland, but we have a post for that!)
Don’t dwell on the details.
If I had to write down all the steps it took for us just to leave the house, let alone get somewhere? It would be a short novel that no one would ever want to read, because at the end the protagonist (that’s me) dies of a cold panic at the to-do list that is her life. Yet sometimes I ask myself, is going to the park worth doing 6 sets of carseat buckles for a round trip? Usually, my gut instinct is to scream, “No! I hate all these damn buckles!” Which is why I can’t think about it. How will I do all of these things that it takes to go somewhere? I just will. Because I’m there, and I don’t really have any other options. And usually, all those things are less overwhelming in practice than they are in theory when I’m planning our day before I’ve had my coffee.
Cut out the negativity.
I’m convinced that some Moms just want to talk about how hard this gig is. How with every kid we add to our family our lives just get impossibly harder. I’ve been told we’ll never go on vacation again now that we have three, don’t bother with Disneyland with three, forget about restaurants with three. And yes, it can definitely be challenging. But that doesn’t mean that parts of it just aren’t worth trying and doing. We try and we do. And with three we’ve gone to Hawaii and on a cruise, I go to Disneyland with the kids fairly often, and we go to breakfast every Saturday morning as a family. It can be done! We just have to believe it and try it. Sometimes it will suck and we’ll feel like failures and that we should never do it again. But you can. We’re those strong amazing women that can do anything, remember??
So if you’re in a Mom group or a Facebook group or are part of a #Momsquad where you hear a lot of negativity about how hard things are – cut it out. Hang with me. I’ll tell you that you can do it and help you get out of your head about all the hard parts.
It can all feel overwhelming, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And there are amazing memories out there you can make with your kiddos, if only you open the door, put on your “I-can-do-this” Mama face, and go.