I generally avoid taking both kids out by myself (or letting anyone else do so) because it can be difficult to keep them from jetting off in different directions. Sometimes though it can't really be avoided. My husband had to be away for the day, and the kids had doctor appointments. Then it turned out to be a glorious day - how could I keep them cooped up? So after the appointments were done, we went to the beach. Here's how we managed:
Despite Gus's Asperger's syndrome, I've found that many basic parenting tricks work just fine with him.
- On the way to the doctor's office, I gave the kids a brief overview of what we were doing for the day. If they were good at the doctor's, we could go to the beach if the weather was nice. I was very specific about the possibility that we might not go to the beach under certain circumstances in order to preempt a tantrum if we couldn't go.
- At the doctor's office, I gave them specific expectations for behavior - no climbing around the exam room like maniacs, basically. They did just fine.
- When it came time for vaccinations, instead of having them both in the room for the shots, I took Gus out and let MM get hers first. They tend to amp each other up, but by separating them, MM had no one to perform for, and Gus didn't get extra freaked out by her antics. He was a little anxious, but after getting the shot said, "That didn't hurt." Surprise!
- On the way home, we revisited the plan, then went home for lunch. After giving them the option not to go, we packed everything up, changed into swimsuits and headed to the beach. In the car, I went over the beach rules and let them know that if they broke the rules, we'd go home immediately. One reason my kids behave pretty well for me instead of taking advantage of the double-team is that they know there are swift consequences for breaking rules. I'm pretty consistent with this, and I think that's made it possible for us to hang out together now.
- Since I only had limited hands to carry stuff, I left the beach toys home in order to make sure I could carry plenty of healthy snacks. I didn't go overboard, but sun and water make kids want to eat. And there are usually a million toys at the beach - no need to carry more in all honesty. In the past, I've left the door open for many a meltdown by not having ample snackage. Neither of them has ever had a fit over not having a shovel. I try not to make those mistakes at this stage of our lives.
- We got to the beach, which is small and usually not very crowded, early in the day, around 12:30. For obvious reasons, we avoid the really busy times, although today, it never got as packed as I've seen in the past.
The results? We spent an extremely pleasant 4 hours at the beach; the kids played with some other children (yes, even Gus came across a little girl who was persistent and patient); I got to relax for an afternoon with my kids! For the win!!
What strategies do you use to maintain order when taking multiple kids out? Have a great weekend!
Image by Kratanuva on Wikimedia Commons