This past weekend I had the opportunity to get all the kids out of the house for a birthday party. Hubby, unfortunately had other responsibilities so it was just me and the kiddos. Now with four kids age five and under, you might think it's a little crazy to go trekking across the city with them as the only adult. While it can be stressful, it beats being stuck inside the house all day, so I decided to go for it. There are several things to do to make going out with your kids an enjoyable time for everyone.
1. The Destination
Obviously I'm not going to want to take my kids to an event that is unsuitable - say, where they have to all sit quietly for a long time. We were headed to a kids birthday party, so I knew there would be lots to entertain the older kids. It was primarily for them that we went. There would be kids we knew for them to play with, and people to help with the twins.
2. Set Expectations
We had attended another birthday party at this same location about a year and a half ago. I had taken the kids by myself (obviously without the twins) and we'd had some issues with behavior and obedience. So this time I made sure to set the expectations of what we would do and how the kids were to behave while we were there. Combined with the fact that they are a little bit older and more mature, it helped to prepare them for going out.
3. Be Prepared
This means a fully stocked diaper bag; food for babies, snacks for older kids, changes of clothes for everyone, sippy cups and pacifiers, toys, blankets, bottles, etc. (See the next point for where to keep the mounds of baggage you need.) I knew we'd be parking on the street so I planned to arrive a little "early" - i.e., party is set to start at 2:00 and we arrived at 2:30 - basically the first guests apart from the family. This meant we were able to get a good parking spot close to their building. I would guess most of the guests arrived between 3:00 and 4:00. This is pretty typical for Brazil.
4. Use your stroller
While strollers are useful for carrying children (especially multiples), they offer more than just that and storage for all your stuff; the stroller becomes "home base". The older kids can easily find us when we're out. The stroller also helps keep us all together - when we cross the roads the older kids know to hold onto the sides of the stroller. They also discovered that they can ride on the sides of it. When momma says the train is pulling out, they hop right on. It's pretty hilarious (and heavy to push!), but helps when we need to get moving.
5. Stand Out
I learned this tip from an article about taking your kids to the beach. Dress them in brightly colored shirts so you can easily spot them from far away. I took this to the next level and also dressed in a bright shirt so they'd easily be able to spot me if they needed something. Here in Brazil it also helps to have blond haired kids as they're in the minority and easy to spot in a crowd.
6. Accept Help
One thing I have really noticed with twins is that people are much more willing to help. I had so many people offer to hold one of the twins while I nursed / bottle fed / changed the other. I met another mom of twins who could empathize with me. Also I can strike up a conversation with anyone on the basis of my babies. (Great for an introvert like me.) Some of the dads there pitched in as well - helping Lucas go on the monkey bars and watching Elena play.
All in all we had a great time; the kids basically slept all the way there and back in the car (about an hour and a half each way) and we all thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get out, play with friends, eat good food, celebrate and make connections with our church (and wider) community.
What other tips do you have for getting out with your gang?