Herding Cats (or Raising young children)

According to my cousin, having young children out in public is like herding cats. I tend to agree with her. We have a three year old and a 22 month old still at home. Sometimes the mere thought of leaving the house alone with both of them sends chills of fear down my spine.  I’m not saying I have the worst behaved kids in the world, but, well, they are, how should we describe them? They are spirited. Like all kids, they can smell fear, so I try not to let them see me sweat…much.

Suffering from intense anxiety since my three year old was born probably hasn’t helped the situation very much, but, hey, I’m either really daring or a complete idiot. I don’t really have much help during the week since my husband travels for his job and it’s just the cats, uhm, I mean, kids and me. I’ve gotten pretty good about taking them to the store. I can strap at least one of them into the cart. They may wail like an injured animal, but they are safe. Plus I tend to bring lots and lots of snacks everywhere we go. Snacks are awesome! Running out of snacks? Not so much. Some days I’m even daring enough to take them to the library or the park, but both of those activities tend to end in crying or screaming or both…and that doesn’t even cover how the kids act!

When it was just one baby, I thought it was tough. My eldest daughter was already practically out of the house when her first sister was born, so it was like having a first child all over again. It seemed hard, but I only had one to keep alive. Now that the third one is walking (and running), it’s like it went from a difficulty level two to a level twenty in a matter of months.

How do people with multiples do it?? I have a friend who has four kids who are aged six and under. She is a freaking rock star! I want to ask her for notes on how she manages, but I’m too embarrassed to admit my difficulties. I’d rather post it on the Internet for potentially thousands of strangers. Ha!  I have another friend who has six kids, SIX KIDS!! And she actually takes them out to eat…by herself! Whhhaaattt???

Who are these women and why am I so inferior to their maternal skills? What makes one woman so capable of handling multiple kids in public (and private), but I feel like I’m planning for war with every outing??

Seriously, does anyone have suggestions because I am all ears. I’m trying to stay away from the baby leash even though I’m sure the 22 month old would actually like it since she has a huge fascination with puppies right now.  Other than medicating my kids, how do I go to public parks or the mall by myself with them and not be afraid of their imminent demise?

10 responses .

  1. Michelle says:

    I don’t know what to tell you. I just DID it. And eventually we found a groove. I ALWAYS put both girls in the cart at the grocery store! Now, they don’t make carts for 3 so they have to walk. (boo). I started at McD’s playplace. It is fairly childproof and it keeps them contained. Unlike the playground where they can actually fall from various death traps, the Playplace seems like at least they won’t drop from a second story. Yes, I had to get in there too at first, but they had fun. I always enjoyed Chick-fil-a better when they were smaller. Better built for the age. Go when school is in and you’ll probably have the place either to yourself or almost. Right after lunch time is best, like 1:00. But we don’t have scheduled naps. I take them when I can get them has been my motto on that, so I would wear them out over lunch and then let them sleep after.

    • admin says:

      I have tried the playplace at “Old MacDonald’s (as K calls it). I usually go in the morning before other people get there. A needs her nap at a certain time, but K DOES NOT NAP! Ugh! boo for the lack of a nap. I guess I just need to put on my big girl panties and go forth into the scary world…

  2. Kristi says:

    I , too used McDonald’s (and other places with playland) as a “safe place”. I have found that it is a wonderful place when you are out and about shopping, running, errands, etc, if the kids get restless and irritable. If you take an hour, fill their tummies with nuggets and fries, and let them play it always seemed to work. Their mood was better and even sometimes a nap would follow. My kids could sleep through a hurricane so putting a sleeping child from carseat to stroller was no sweat. Sometimes I would have to deal with the fit from having to leave but I tried to tell them to look forward to something. For example, if one was unhappy, I would say do you want to go see Pawpaw? Of course they would say yes and then it was ok we will go after we get done. I never was overly concerned about snacks. I packed them, Don’t get me wrong. My biggest worry when I had one in diapers was the one time I grabbed the diaper bag that hadn’t been restocked and was only working with one diaper and maybe some wipes. I had a healthy fear and poop and throw up because I wasn’t very prepared. On multiple occasions I have had to purchase diapers, wipes, pacis, and clothing at walmart and pay for them after they were opened or being worn. It was exhausting work but it was fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

    • admin says:

      Kristi, I have SOOO done that before! The purchasing of extra diapers, wipes, and clothing part! Part of me is looking forward to the end of the diaper era, but another part really likes having Baby A:-) I have moments where I think, “Maybe just one more baby…” then I smack myself in the head and forget about it!

  3. Tara says:

    You crack me up. How do I do it? I just DO! I sometimes have to laugh to myself when I hear (almost all the time) when I’m out in public, “you have your hands FULL”. I also want to pinch people that say that in front of my kids. I mean, who wants to let your kids know that their mere presence is considered to be a challenge…there’s strength in numbers, after all. ☺☺☺☺

    As you know, I’m the type of mom that canNOT stay home all day everyday with my kids. I LIKE to go places with them, strap them in seats, and watch everyone stare and marvel at how I manage to feed, wheel my kids by myself. Takes away the usual boredom of mealtime for us all. Plus, allowing someone else to wipe the table and sweep the floor after I feed my troop is a nice help.

    My secret to going out with my 4 littles is that we have “rules” and we talk about them before going into a store/event. My top 3:

    1. Don’t touch anything without asking (sometimes takes a remind or two in the store, of course)
    2. No leaving Mommy and the stroller (I must strap the boys in and will continue to do so until they’re 20 j/k). Strangely enough, my girls like to hold on to the stroller as I walk the boys. It’s an absolute benefit when going to crowded place. Think it started with, “help mommy push the baby”…let’s push the cart. Also am thinking that Amelia (5) might prefer to sit in the basket (and I can throw her groceries).
    3. No noisemaking (yelling, running, screaming for the older kids). Tantrums are not tolerated. We will go to a restroom or leave the store for a bit for 2-3 year olds… Mass mayhem (ie: more than one acting up) warrants a trip back to the car and leaving. Only takes a couple of times of missing out on an outing (and being the one to bring us back to the car) to convince the girls that I mean business.

    For the babies, I bring (as you suggested) lots of snacks and drinks. Cheerios and sippie cups are a must, as is a snack holder built into the stroller. I throw lots of little snacks (ie: muffin at Starbucks, nuggets at CFA, fruit when I can get it….lots of protein, too) into the graco double stroller snack holder. It’s how my boys eat lunch sometimes.

    Thanks for posting this question! I had fun answering it. BTW, as you know, I have my own challenges…like what the heck to feed my 3 year old besides (her mainstay) PB&J.

  4. Tara says:

    BTW, sometimes I cringe when I know that we’re in imminent melt-down mode. I just remind myself that those out in public can always escape, and don’t get the earful that I hear much more often.

  5. Bad Egg says:

    Care less what others think. Just do the best you can, and if your kids’ behavior is less than ideal, oh well.

    That’s probably not very helpful, but as a mother of three under 7, that’s pretty much how I feel.

  6. Ali the Heep says:

    I’m the oldest of six, but I was 14 and the next oldest was 12 when the youngest was born, so Mom had some deputies to assist with the ‘crowd control’.
    And don’t knock the kiddie leash, aka “freedom harness.” Mom says I loved mine. The kid doesn’t feel trapped, and you don’t have to keep hold of their squirmy little fingers. We’re totally using one when we have another baby.

  7. Ali the Heep says:

    Oh! And, have you tried the Snack Necklace? Put cereal O’s, pretzels etc. on a string or shoelace and loop around the neck for older toddlers or tie around the wrist for littles. Probably get crumbs everywhere, but still worth trying, no?

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