When I was a childless woman, leaving the house was never much to think about. I’d grab my keys, wallet and phone and be out the door to wherever I needed to go and back whenever I pleased. I didn’t need a bag or to think ahead or to plan anything, if I didn’t want to.
Oh, how the times have changed. With three under three years of age, leaving the house is an exhausting mission that – for best results – should be started the night before. It involves making a list of what needs to be done while we’re out, making sure the baby bags are packed and planning multiple scenarios depending on wake times and windows.
If I’m choosing to go
into battle out on my own, I also need to take into account how to handle my two year old when the twins need a feed. Or, if I’m lucky, I can get everything done within their wake window and nap time so that I can load everyone and everything back into the car and head home before they’re hungry.
In short, leaving the house is exhausting for me. The planning, the physical act of unloading and loading the car and the adrenalin and anxiety that washes through me as I steer a pram, hold a toddler’s hand and try to anticipate anything going awry means that when I get home, I’m totally done.
If everything goes right, we can make it back to the car without my toddler having a tired meltdown and demanding to be carried. If it doesn’t, I’m in damage control, trying not to look like a struggling mess – even though that’s exactly what I am.
Besides the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion from leaving the house, there’s a surprising amount of social draining too. Having twins means that I’m stopped much more often than I ever was with my singleton. People look in the pram and ask me questions and tell me I have my hands full as my toddler stares up at them intensely. Or, they tell me about their own twins and how they coped.
When I went to the paediatrician, she told me that I needed to relax more, that I looked like I was on a mission with my backpack of baby ‘just in case’ items. She told me that I need to make sure that I take time for myself and that a lot of mums told her that they felt better when they made sure to take some time to do what they liked to do. I agreed. I did need to make sure I did that, but between breastfeeding and trying to entertain my toddler, it was very hard.
She then told me that she had no children and I wanted to laugh. I appreciated the sentiment of her comments, but until she had to wrangle three under three to an appointment, I think I’m going to stick with my mission method.