Going out with multiple children is not for the faint of heart.
It can be one of those most stressful tasks. It will test your patience and parenting skills.
A seemingly calm and otherwise rational parent can be turned into a frazzled mess when they suddenly realize that they are out in public with children who can fall into a tantrum anytime.
With three children, three and under, I know exactly what it feels like when you are out in public and when one if not all has hit their limit.
You feel as though everyone is looking at you, judging you as a parent all while you are looking for the quickest exit.
I made the dreadful mistake of putting naptime off for a bit so that I could pick up some last minute groceries.
We were out of milk and bananas, which is enough to ensure a riot at my house.
Against my better judgement, I braved the grocery store.
As we started our trip, quickly every child was beginning to fall apart.
I felt like I was sprinting through the store just to get in and out as fast as I can.
They were reaching for things on the shelf, throwing things on the floor that I already picked out of the basket.
By the time we got to the checkout line, I had all three sitting on the side of the cash register in timeout.
I was sweaty and completely exhausted. I had officially hit my limit as a parent that day.
I know all too well that terrifying feeling of going out again with your children and not knowing whether or not you can handle it again.
But it is kind of like falling off of a horse. You just got to get back on again.
While I can’t ensure every time you go out with your children with my tips will go without a hitch, I can promise you that it can definitely get better.
Here are my 10 stress free tips for going out with multiple children.
1. Keep Extra Clothes And Diapers In The Car
Always make sure that you have this on hand and easily accessible.
It is easiest to just always leave it in your car at all times.
Just remember to replenish if you use something.
You never know when accidents will happen and you definitely don’t want to get to your destination just to have to turn around again.
Make sure you are prepared so that whatever you decided to do when you go out with your kids, an accident won’t add more stress or be the quick end all to the trip.
2. Check Out The Place First And Ask Around
It can be very stressful taking your children anywhere for the first time, especially if it not a place you have been before.
Whether it is a children’s museum or play center, give yourself a heads up by either visiting the place quickly before all your kids are in tow or by asking other parents who have taking their children there.
You want to see if it is a place you can handle.
Maybe it is just too large for you to be able to keep track of everyone. Or the place isn’t really the best for your particularly young children.
You can also tell if this is something that you will be able to take the kids on your own or if you have to have another adult.
The more information you know, the better prepared you can be.
3. Bring Snacks And Candies
Yes, you should always have healthy snacks on hand.
You definitely don’t want to be out and about with “hungry” children.
Having a stash of snacks can turn the most upset toddler back to your sweet little child when given something to eat.
In addition, I will usually pack some candy as sort of a Hail Mary when I need it.
When all of the snacks are gone and I just need them to sit still for longer than two minutes, I will resort to candy during these desperate measures.
This will usually happen during a long visit to the doctors.
4. Keep Activities On Hand
If you are going to a restaurant or any place where you need to keep them entertained, always have some activities on hand in your bag.
There are great activity packs that you can buy in Target’s dollar spot that include a coloring book, crayons and stickers.
I usually keep a stash of these in my car as well.
They are helpful to have as you can pull them out quite easily and not have to worry about losing them.
You can just throw them away when they are done.
I also get pretty lenient when it comes to electronic devices. Tablets are great item to have on hand. You can quickly put a movie on or give them a game to play to keep them occupied.
5. Praise Them
When they are doing well when you are out, make sure you recognize it.
Always give them praise when they are doing a great job at listening to you and following instructions.
Sometimes kids just need attention and its best to give them the positive reinforcement sooner rather than resorting to negative reinforcement when they are not behaving.
When they are given compliments first for being good while out, they will want to continue the good praise.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
The first time you go out with all the children can be overwhelming and a disaster.
But you need to get back on that horse and try again.
Remember that practice makes perfect.
The more often you go out with your multiple children, the better it will become because they know what the expectations are and how to behave.
You can’t expect it to be perfect the first time you go out but you can expect them to get better at it the more often you go out.
7. Let Them Know What To Expect
Before going out, let your children know where you are going.
Tell them what you all will be doing and also expectations you have for their behavior.
The more they know what to expect, the better they will behave.
When a child doesn’t know what is coming next, it can make them feel out of control and focused on not knowing what comes next.
Let them know what activity they are going to participate in, when they can have a snack and when they will get to sit down to eat.
Remind them what the behavior expectation is and that they need to be considerate of other people who are going to share your space.
8. Get Them Involved
When children feel like they are truly part of an outing and not just tagging along, they are more likely to feel invested in it and behavior properly.
A good example of this is grocery shopping.
Have them help you find all the items on your list. Let one check off the list while another can put your produce in the bags. It keeps them occupied and children love being your little helpers.
9. Reward Them
When you go out with all your children and they behave well, always reward this behavior.
Give them a treat, such as a stop for a small ice cream or letting them eat that extra cookie after dinner time.
Any incentives you can give them after a good day out will definitely increase your odds of having a future successful day again.
10. Know You And Your Children’s Limits
While you may be surprised every so often of what you and your children can handle when you are out and about, it is best not to push those limits.
I know that my children cannot handle a trip to the movies because no one can sit still for that long.
By knowing what you and your children can do when you are out and about will help you make decisions that will lead you down a less-likely tantrum path.
While it is good to try something new every so often, remember to not feel bad or defeated if you have to exit quickly.
Don’t push yourself or your children when it is obvious no one is having a good time. You can always try again.