For a few months, my boys were both under the age of two. And once Milo officially turned two on his birthday, he instantly matured and my outings with both babies was a piece of cake. (JOKES.) Whether your babies are under the age of two, or three, or four, it’s a feat of athleticism to go on an outing, but it’s also necessary. The alternative is to stay at home. And while that’s safer and easier, it might also slowly make you go insane.
These tips are specifically for outings with a walking toddler + an immobile baby. That combo has its challenges, because the infant is most likely feeding every few hours and the toddler is, well, a toddler. I don’t know a thing about parenting teenagers, or what it’s like to have a middle-schooler in the home, and I’ve never experienced life with two toddlers. But in the past 3 months, I’ve gone on lots of adventures and outings with a toddler (Milo, who recently turned 2) and a baby (my son Dayton, who is 3 months old.) I feel pretty confident in my abilities now, and I’ve slowly gotten braver in going on adventures that last a bit longer and are a bit further from my home.
These are very basic tips, but some of them I just discovered recently and they made my outings so much easier. I hope they’re helpful!
1. Prepare Yourself First
I know, I know, the “put your own oxygen mask on first before you help anyone else” analogy is overused, but in this situation, it’s necessary that you get yourself ready to go on an outing before you leave the house. You’re going to be responsible for two tiny humans, but you’re also responsible for you. So that means, ultimately, you’re responsible for three people on this outing, and if you can go ahead and take care of yourself before you leave the house, you can better focus on the two babies when you’re on your outing.
– Make sure you’re fed and caffeinated. If I’m going on a morning outing with the boys, I like to have some protein to keep me full + some carbs because they make my stomach feel better. (Greek yogurt + granola, scrambled eggs + toasted english muffin.) And coffee. I know that it will be really hard to find time to eat something while I’m taking care of the boys, so I make sure that whatever I eat will keep me full until we’re back home.
– Functional clothing. Caring for toddlers is a sport. (Don’t believe me? Check your steps on your apple watch before and after an outing.) My favorite combo is:
– a pair of leggings (they must have pockets! More on that later.
– nursing bra and a comfy tee or tank
– supportive sneakers (you’ll be holding your weight + baby + running after toddler)
– Baseball cap if we’ll be outside
– no jewelry, because there are two children who are holding on to me and wiping things on me and feeding on me, and sometimes I just want the fewest things touching my body as possible.
– Hydrate…but not too much. It’s possible, but kind of tricky, to run to the bathroom to pee while watching two babies. I’ve found that it’s easiest if I can stay hydrated enough to feel good, but not so much that I need to pee multiple times during the outing. If you’re out and about with a friend, they can watch the babies while you run to the bathroom, but if you’re solo, it’s slightly more difficult. I’ll often buckle Milo into the double stroller, take Dayton out of the baby carrier and put him into the stroller, wheel the Uppababy into the bathroom, and leave it outside my stall. So again, totally do-able, but it’s just one of those things that makes you think “why am I even leaving the house when it’s so much work?”
2. Pack the correct carriers
There are lots of double strollers and infant carriers on the market, but this blog post isn’t about the best one. I haven’t tried all of them, but I do love our Uppababy Vista! I got the upper and lower adapters to convert it into a double. Regardless of the exact stroller you use, I’ve found that there are a few things that make an outing with 2 under 2 a lot easier:
– Bring a double stroller. It just makes life so much easier to have that option! It’s nice to have it when transporting babies from the car to the destination, but it’s also nice to have a place where you can harness the toddler. For instance, if I need to nurse Dayton while we’re out, I can’t chase Milo, so I strap him into the stroller and give him a snack.
– Get a stroller that your infant car carrier can easily snap into. Yesterday I had to run into Best Buy very quickly to get a birthday present for my brother, and I had both boys with me. I was able to unfold the stroller, buckle Milo into the toddler seat, and then just lift Dayton’s entire infant carrier out of the car and snap it into the stroller. It’s soooo much easier than having to unbuckle the baby adn then buckle him back in.
– Bring a device to wear the baby. The double stroller is nice about 50% of the time, but the other half ot he time it won’t work. For instance, we were at the downtown Austin public library yesterday, and Milo’s favorite part is going up and down the floating staircase. (It’s really cool!) So I put Dayton in the Baby Bjorn and wore him for an hour while Milo climbed. I was able to chase Milo and keep Dayton nearby and still have two free hands to help Milo balance if he needed me.
3. Stay aware of your posture
Ok, this is another tip for the caretaker (because you’re ⅓ of the equation here, so you’re important!) In addition to wearing those comfy and supportive clothes, make sure that you’re periodically checking in on your posture. If you can keep your core engaged and body aligned, it’s easier to wear the baby while also caring for the toddler. I’ve found that when I’m checking in on my posture during the outing with two babies, my energy levels feel better later in the day when we’re back home.
4. Pick the right type of place for these outings
Ok, this is really really basic, I know. But simply choosing the right type of place is the difference between suffering through a morning outing with two babies and fully enjoying quality time with those same two babies.
– temperature: Summer months? Go somewhere with AC or a pool. Rainy day? Make sure it’s an indoor location. If the weather isn’t awesome, there’s no need to be a martyr and suffer through a morning outdoors. Save the outdoor time for gorgeous mornings!
– figure out the most convenient parking. A bit of research can help you find a place with nearby parking. And if it’s a rainy day, pay for the covered parking garage so you never have to go out in the rain with both babies.
– can you realistically go to this place while watching a mobile toddler and an immobile baby? There are some places I love to go with Milo solo (like a big playground or a baby gym), but with Dayton strapped to me, I need a location where I won’t be climbing ladders or lifting him into swings. My favorite options are big gardens/parks, like the Alliance Children’s Gardens, rather than playgrounds. The Mueller lake (outside The Thinkery) is an awesome spot because Milo loves running around there, and I can easily care for him while wearing Dayton.I also love libraries that have good children’s areas, like our epic central Austin library! I’m always amazed at how Milo can find ways to entertain himself wherever we go; the desire for variety is my need, not his. He’s been to our local neighborhood playground 800 times, and he still loves it.
5. Timing matters
This isn’t a big one, and you know what works best for your family, but pay attention to the timing. My younger son currently nurses every 3 hours, so I like to leave the house 30 minutes before a feeding. Then when we get to the destination I’ll nurse him in the car (while the toddler is still buckled in – I wouldn’t be able chase him around very easily while Dayton is nursing!) and then he’s fed and happy during the outing.
I also like to limit our outings to about 2 hours. Anything longer than that is just too long for us.
6. Only bring necessary stuff
Here’s why: you’ll probably have to park the stroller at some point while you’re walking around wearing the baby and following the toddler. I don’t like to leave any valuables in my stroller, just in case we’re in a public space. So I always wear legging with pockets (or a jacket with pockets) where I can put my valuables.
I carry my phone, car key fob (not the whole bunch of keys – those stay at home and I just bring the fob on outings), and ID/credit card. (Again, not the entire wallet.) I keep the diaper bag in the bottom of the stroller, but I don’t store any valuables in there just in case. If someone decides to steal my cheap Amazon diaper bag the spit up-encrusted burp rag inside, fine by me.
7. Manage your expectations
A few little things that have helped me feel successful and empowered when I’m doing an outing with two babies:
– I don’t try to take great photos or videos. When they’re all cute and having a good time at a fun Austin location, I think “oh, I should try to capture this and put it on instagram!” But most of the time that adds an inordinate amount of energy, and it’s not worth it. Better to just keep the kids safe and enjoy my time with them. Photos can happen when a family member joins me on an outing, but when I’m solo, I take this expectation off my plate. If the timing is right, I might be able to capture a few sloppy photos that I’ll put on our personal family social media page, but there’s no pressure.
– This isn’t “me” time. When I’m out with two babies, they are the stars of the show. This isn’t the time for me to refuel. For instance, at the library yesterday, Milo was walking through the periodicals section. (Well, he was running and drumming on the shelves.) The new Texas Monthly caught my eye, and for a fleeting moment I thought “maybe I can get Milo to sit still and look at a book and Dayton will fall asleep and I can have 5 minutes to thumb through this magazine.” And I had to brush that thought right out of my head! Experience has told me that I only feel frustrated when I start to expect “me” time when I’m doing an outing with the babies. There are lots of other appropriate times in the day when I can choose to rest and refuel, but this isn’t one of them.
This is the quality of photo that I can take on these solo outings with my two babies, and I am ok with this.
When I found out I was pregnant with Milo, a friend and fellow mom gave me this nugget of wisdom: “it’s all temporary.” Every part of parenthood is a stage that eventually ends. I haven’t been in it long enough to say if it gets harder or easier. I would guess that it’s always a mixture of the two. For me, finishing that first year of breastfeeding was a HUGE relief on my body autonomy. But just when I could easily take him on outings without having to factor in our nursing schedule, he became a toddler who could not just walk but RUN and life became challenging in that way.
So while I’m figuring out how to strap both babies into the car (hint: it always takes 25% longer than I think it will) and find age-appropriate things in Austin for us to do in the amount of time we have between Dayton’s breastfeeding schedule, I remember that this will only last for a few more months. In another 9 months or so, Dayton will be crawling or walking. Nap schedules and feeding schedules will be different than they are right now. My new challenge will be figuring out how to go on outings with two toddlers (yikes!) and I’ll probably still be over-caffeinating. All this to say: it’s just a stage of life. It’s not going to be like this forever.