My last post was about 5 months ago and so much has happened since then. John and I got married, I have set up a small craft business and the boys are now running around and causing more mayhem than ever.
Getting them ready to go out has stepped up to a whole new level and when considering leaving the house I know that I will typically encounter the following:
1) one, two or (more than likely) all three children filling their nappies after getting their coats and shoes on.
2) the first child starts to strip whilst dressing the second/third.
3) someone has a tumble
4) I can’t find a shoe/car keys/child
5) I realise I have porridge in my hair/on my top…I don’t care anymore, I just want to get out!
I wrestle them into their buggy/car seat and breathe a sigh of relief. I tend not to have set times that I have to be anywhere, it is always an “ish” time, to me it is just an extra pressure that I create for myself so why bother with set times? I always allow myself a half an hour arrival window and all of my friends and family understand and appreciate that babies don’t stick to a timetable.
Taking multiples out on your own is daunting, I have to make sure that I have picked up my nerves of steel and sense of humour along with my car keys on my way out. Herding more than one toddler is like trying to herd cats – they each have their own ideas about where they want to go and how they’re going to get there and it’s NEVER in the same direction as you or their siblings. For this reason I tend to ask the following questions of the venue that we are considering:
1) Is it enclosed?
The first thing my children try and do as soon as I set them free somewhere is to escape so an enclosed space is essential.
2) Is it age appropriate?
An obvious one, but you want them to be able to do activities without your help. It encourages a sense of independence and also frees up your hands a little.
3) Is it small enough to see them all?
Whilst I am happy for them to explore I obviously want to make sure they aren’t about to break an arm or throwing sand in another child’s eyes!
4) Is it quiet?
I will often take the boys to the busier venues early in the morning whilst most people are still eating their breakfast because it really is just easier and as anti-social as it sounds whilst the boys are still young and learning their physical limits I don’t want to have to answer all the usual questions that having identical triplets inevitably evokes when I should be watching what they’re doing. In the summertime (if we have one) it also means that we avoid the peak of the heat first thing in the morning.
5) How much will it cost x3?
Taking one child to a play centre is expensive, but I have found that taking three can cost an average of £15! For this reason I rarely pay for the boys to attend a group, there are just so many free and fun activities to do, especially in the summer. However, if I do choose to go to a fee paying group I will always ask for a multiples discount if they charge per child. It’s very surprising how many people will offer you a discount if you ask and if you don’t ask you don’t get!
Bearing all these things in mind my favourite places to set them loose are our garden, local playgrounds, the country park which usually runs toddler activities and familiar children’s groups usually at the sure start centre.
I am keen to try new things, but I am not going to put pressure on myself despite the media and other mums bombarding me with facts about how they should be having swimming lessons, going to sensory sessions and having baby cappuccinos with their friends (!) every day. I participate in activities that we all enjoy, as often or as little as I like. For my own sanity I do not compare myself to other mums whether they have one, two or ten children.
If you’re nervous about taking your multiples out on your own, take them somewhere you are familiar with and if you can rope in a friend (even if they have a child to look after too) for moral support then do. The more friendly pairs of eyes you have around the better. I have found the more I go out the more confident I become and if something goes wrong such as Lucas falling into a massive puddle and falling down the slide (as happened the other day) I can look at it as ‘just one if those things’.
I never leave the house without some form of bribery. If you look in my changing bag amongst all the other rubbish you will always find raisins and mini breadsticks. The key is to put them in a tub so that when you shake it makes a noise. To avoid toddler meltdown x3 when trying to leave the park all I do is shake the tub tell them it’s snack time and most, if not all, will come running (a bit like calling your cat in your tea). This way I avoid the tantrums in the first place and I don’t have to chase them around the park to catch them. I realise this technique probably won’t work forever, but it does the job for now so I’m sticking to it!