Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Twin Tip Tuesday: Taking Your Twin Babies Shopping

Since finding out we were going to be blessed with twins, I've done a lot of reading. I found books about twin pregnancy, surviving the first few weeks and months with twins, and even sleep training for twins. What I didn't find much of was how to perform day-to day tasks with twins: going grocery shopping, starting solid foods, playing on the floor, tummy time. While I'm by no means an experienced twin mommy, I thought I would share some of what's worked for us in the past months! Look for these posts on Tuesdays - some upcoming topics will include dressing your twins, holiday celebrations with your twins, taking walks with your twins, and bathtime with your twins.

Shopping trips with your twins

Taking a baby to any type of store presents a logistical challenge. Will they ride in their car seat, or in a carrier? Is it better to take them while they're napping or wait until they're awake? What will your course of action be if they get fussy? Taking two babies can triple the challenges, because most shopping carts aren't nearly big enough to fit two infant carriers and still leave room for anything else. You also have to consider two different babies, with their own personalities and temperaments - and appetites! Here's what's worked for us:
1. Make a plan. A list is great, although I don't always have one. Sometimes you have to just seize your opportunity - happy babies, a break in the rain, you get the idea! Even if you don't have a list, make sure you have a plan. Having an idea of where you'll park, where you can find a cart, and how you'll carry your babies will greatly simplify your trip. If you can at least jot down the essential items you need to purchase, you'll be more likely to get out of the store with those - no coming home with three bags of groceries and no milk or wipes. I suggest parking near the carts, to make loading and unloading easier. To carry both girls, since they still don't sit up well, I use our Ergo carrier and one of their carseats in the cart (see below for details). I avoid going to stores that don't offer carts big enough for this setup - or that don't offer carts at all!

2. Be flexible. While this seems to contradict #1, you have to embrace both if you're going to get out of the house often with your baby twins. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish, but be willing to pack it up and leave when your kiddos have had enough. I like to have a regrouping routine that can get us back on track without having to go all the way home - I bring one of our Boppy pillows and a well-stocked diaper bag so we can recharge in between stores. I also bring water and snacks for myself, and treat myself to a coffee at the beginning of errands.

3. Multitask. As a twin mommy, this is an essential survival skill, and it can mean different things at different times. As I mentioned above, most shopping carts don't allow for two infant carriers and still leave room for anything else. When you're taking your twins shopping, take their personalities into account when you decide where they'll ride. For example, one of my girls, Erin, loves to be snuggled, so I carry her in the Ergo, where she often takes a nap. Emily likes to watch people and see my face, so I let her ride in the infant seat, sitting up on the top of the cart. She sometimes will fall asleep in the car on the way to the store, and often naps after riding on the cart for a little while. Being able to simultaneously snuggle and make faces to entertain both girls is a lifesaver, let me tell you! Don't forget why you're there, either - it's easy to get caught up in entertaining your babies and forget to fill your cart. I've done this more than once with less than fantastic results. Think double meltdown at the checkout. If you're not sure how long to allow in the store, try taking your babies on a walk and see how long they last. That will give you an idea of how much time you have.

4. Be ready for attention. People will approach you and want to see your twins, coo over them, and ask you questions. I really don't mind the attention - Emily and Erin seem to love it, and they pretty much always smile. I try to answer people's questions as honestly as I can, and I am always polite and cheerful. I want my girls to know I'm proud of them! If you are not comfortable with the attention, work with your comfort level. Smile, nod, thank them, and keep moving. I find that people often offer me help - bagging groceries, lifting something into the cart, or even adjusting the baby carrier! One polite gentleman even waited for me while I unloaded the girls from the cart and happily took the cart back for me. Again, work with your comfort level, but I try to accept help wherever possible. It always feels as though God sends it when I need it most!

5. Talk to your babies. Both of my girls like interacting, so I talk to them like they understand what's going on. I ask them what we should get and tell them why we need certain foods to be healthy. I sometimes get looks like I'm crazy, but most people don't really seem fazed. I've read that this helps their language development as well, so maybe they understand more than we think!

6. Use distraction. If all else fails and it's clear your kiddos just want to be somewhere else, switch it up. I trade toys back and forth, point out interesting things, talk in an excited voice, make silly faces. I use this tactic as I hastily wrap up my shopping and unload my cart at the checkout. Changes in motion can also help here, since some babies particularly enjoy being pushed in the cart or jiggled in a carrier. I've gotten so used to this that I actually have trouble standing still now! I find myself swaying slightly every time I try.

7. Remember you're learning - and they are too. Don't get too frustrated if your first outing is short and cranky. When you look back on it, you'll undoubtably have learned something for next time. Shopping might take a little longer when your twins join you at the store, but you're letting them learn about the world around them, and teaching them about how they can interact with that world. So take a deep breath and enjoy!

Do you take your kiddos shopping, twins or otherwise? What are your favorite stores for shopping with little ones? 

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