...going out your door.
Recently I posted about what it takes to get us all into the van, but there's even more to the dance of getting us out of the house. Preparing for a morning outing such as church, starts a about 6:30 am. That's when I need to nurse Tali in order for her to be on schedule to nurse again at 9:30 am shortly before we leave. She plays on the floor while I pump milk for Christiana. Next I need to wake up Christiana so that she can be fed and put back to bed in order to have a good nap before we leave. Of course, since Christiana is in Amanda's closet that means she gets up at this time, too.
I have prepared Christiana's breakfast and bottle before waking her up. Usually breakfast is warmed cubes of pureed kale, rice, and garbanzo beans often mixed with oatmeal and apple sauce. I also have my breakfast ready because I can eat while I'm feeding Christiana. I prefer to feed Christiana while she's sitting on my lap. That way I can hold her arms down to keep them out of the way and then feed her the bottle after she's done. Amanda often eats dry oats with sugar and raisins for breakfast. (This morning she wanted apples and oranges. She ate a whole apple and most of an orange.)
Amanda and Christiana play around a bit while I'm cleaning up and packing the diaper bag. I always pack a container of dry cereal, milk and food for Christiana. Then I dress Christiana in her church clothes and put her down for her morning nap. I have Amanda grab some books and come read in the bathroom while I take a shower unless Mike is up then she goes downstairs and watches cartoons with him. After my shower, I get Amanda dressed and do her hair.
1/2 hour before we need to leave, I wake Tali up to nurse her. If we are going to church and so I'm not driving, I will pump in the van. If we are going somewhere else, I will pump after nursing Tali while she plays on the floor or in her walker. Sometimes I get her dressed and buckle her right in her car seat at this point. The last thing I do before leaving is wake Christiana, change her diaper and then we head out the door. Often some one will feed her the bottle in the car.
Once we're at our destination, I use a combination of baby wearing and a stroller to manage the little ones. I bought one of those stroller frames that goes with our car seat. It was smaller and lighter weight than a regular stroller that can hold a car seat. It fits neatly behind the driver's seat below Tali's and Christiana's car seats. I snap Tali's car seat into the stroller frame and then climb up to reach back and unbuckle Amanda's car seat. Amanda can now get out and push the button to open the passenger side sliding door. I need to remember this and lock the door if we are some place where it's not safe for her to open the door.
Next I push Tali in the stroller around to the passenger side to get the diaper bag and Christiana. I usually put Christiana in a secure wrap on my back at this point. If we are at the park, Tali can stay in her car seat/stroller. If we are at the beach, I put Tali in a pouch in front and I can go out in the water with Amanda. Tali and Christiana both have sun hats and are almost completely covered or shaded in their wraps and pouch. In fact, one mom asked if they were twins because they were so completely covered. Tali often falls asleep in the pouch. At the beach, when Amanda starts getting chilly or when Christiana starts getting fussy or antsy, that's when we'll go dry off and I will feed Christiana her meal. The beach has two big pine trees for shade right next to the playground so Amanda will go play while I feed Christiana. I put Tali back in her car seat/stroller.
I can feed Christiana pretty quickly so I will do that first and then I can nurse Tali if that's what's needed. Christiana will just crawl around and play in the sand. I don't worry too much if she chews on pine cones, big rocks or sticks. If Tali's in the wrap then I can put Christiana in her car seat/stroller. I don't buckle the straps over her shoulders just over her thighs and between her legs. My wrap is definitely better than my pouch because it's more secure and I can do things with both hands.
We usually go to the beach around 4 pm after nap so when it's close to 6 pm we're ready to go and put Christiana to bed. Since I've fed her at the beach, I can just put her right in bed when we get home.
I'm typing all this out because a reader asked me for advice on managing little ones so close in age on outings. Sometimes I don't even know how I do it. I just go with the flow, learn from my mistakes and alter my expectations. For example, if Amanda is whiny and doesn't want to play by herself at the park, I just let her sit by me while I feed the babies. I don't considered it a failed outing. She probably would have been crabby at home but at least I got a good workout (getting everybody loaded and unloaded) and we've kept busy for a couple of hours.
I don't expect to be out any longer than three hours and two is usually better. I don't expect everyone to be happy and quiet during the entire outing. At some point in time, some one will be crying while I'm busy taking care of somebody else. I don't expect to have meaningful adult interactions while we're out. The kids just need too much attention. I do expect to be exhausted and ready for bed before my day is done. That's when I remember my friends who run and have described how they feel during the last miles of a long run. I know I have the strength to make it to the finish line- the time of day when Amanda and Christiana are tucked in their beds for the night and it's just me and Tali nursing and reading blogs. Ah, sweet victory!
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