Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of moms post on Facebook, Twitter, their blogs… everywhere that they went to _________ with two kids and it was awful and we’ll never do that again! Which makes me wonder if I am either: 1. completely and totally insane, 2. Superwoman, or 3. Some totally messed up, delusional mix of the two.
I go out of the house with my kids almost everyday. Alone. I can’t stand being cooped up all day everyday and I refuse to allow my children to make me a prisoner in my own house. Does that sometimes backfire and make me completely insane? ABSOLUTELY. But for the most part, we’ve figured out a routine and I can tell in the morning if it’s a day where they will make me insane and just keep them home. I don’t think my kids are any more well behaved than any of these other parents. In fact, having two kids much younger than most of these parents makes me think mine are probably LESS well behaved. And yet, we all survive it. We do everything together. We shop at the mall, we go to the toystore, we go shopping for craft supplies, we go out to lunch at sit down places or McDonalds. Those are the fun trips. We also go to the grocery store, the post office, the bank, and the gas station – the not so fun trips.
I’m not writing this post to brag. I’m writing it because I’m suddenly feeling like maybe I’m crazy! A took both kids to a store today to give me a break. 45 minutes later he came back looking harried, stressed and at his wits end. He came into the house in a flurry of children bags and shouts for help. He looked exactly like I imagined all these moms looking after their excursions. Are there days when I come into the house looking like that? For sure. But most of the time, we come into the house as a happy, content little threesome – me and my kiddos. So what’s my secret?
We have a system.
When Audrey was born I made rules for Mason. And he follows them. ALWAYS. Now, he follows them without even being asked. When we leave the house, I tell the kids which door (usually the front, but sometimes we leave through the back door just to spice things up!) we will be leaving from and they both go running over. Mason unlocks and opens the door (because he knows how which is both a blessing and a curse) and Audrey and Mason both go out the door with me hot on their heels. Mason walks directly to the car and starts circling it while he waits for Audrey and I. While I get Audrey in her carseat, he either continues his circling or climbs into the car and gets himself into his own seat. When we get to the store, Mason gets out first. He holds my hand and we walk to the other side of the car to get Audrey. He knows that he needs to either be holding my hand, or to have “one hand on the car!” until I tell him otherwise. The second I let go of his hand he puts it on the van door. He’ll sometimes wander towards the back of the car, but he knows not to actually go behind the car – he stays on the side with me with one hand on the car the entire time. This is always the most nerve wracking part of our trip, but it usually only lasts about 30 seconds while I get Audrey out of her seat. We walk into the store together. I carry Audrey, Mason holds my hand and walks next to me – usually chatting me up about how he “neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeds a new toy mama.” Then we pick a cart. This is Mason’s job. Always. He gets to pick the cart… mainly because I have the worst luck ever and always pick the one with the squeaky wheel. So I pawned that job off on my toddler and can now roll my eyes at his idiotic pick if we are strolling through WalMart with a squeaky cart (EVERYBODY WINS). Mason gets first choice of seat mainly because Audrey usually prefers to be worn. On days she’s not feeling clingy, she will sometimes sit in the front (or in the car most likely since that’s the cart Mason picks 87% of the time) for about 20 minutes before insisting to be held. If we’re on one of our fun trips, the kids are no problem. They both love to shop at Toys R Us, clothing stores, and especially Michael’s. Both will stroll the aisles with me pointing at things they find interesting and jabbering about what they “need”. On trips to the grocery store, I use the age old mom trick… BRIBERY. Don’t knock it y’all. An extra box of Cheez Its or a package of M&Ms opened up in the store can be life altering. I used to use fruit snacks too but between the two of them they can go through an entire box of fruit snacks in about 4 minutes now… so we had to move onto something where I get a little more time for my buck. Once we’re done our shopping, both kids get in the back of the cart and help put everything onto the belt. It’s like the funnest thing EVER for toddlers (apparently… at least mine anyway). Then it’s back out to the car. I open the trunk and toss them both over the back bench seat (carefully. Obviously I’m not literally tossing them). They play in the middle row with whatever toys, shoes, or clothing they recently insisted on bringing and then promptly threw on the floor while I load our purchases into the back. Then it’s just a matter of catching them – usually I can grab Audrey from the center console on her trek to the front to push every button on the dash. Audrey goes into her seat while Mason gets an extra minute or so of playtime. Usually he spends this extra minute rolling around on the back seat telling me “come get me mama!” and yet… I just have to say “get in your seat Mason, I’m coming around to buckle you” and he hops into his own seat. Once we get home, I let them out of their seats and they walk into the house on their own… at least, that’s the plan. I often have to chase them down after unlocking the door because they’ve decided they need to go see what the neighbors are doing. Buttttt I’ll let them have that battle, because chances are if we’ve been out all day and they’ve been well behaved I’m ready to give them some outside playtime with the neighbors.