Going Out with Lots of Littles: 4 Moms, 35 Kids

How do moms of many manage when they are moms of many littles, what have we learned and what would we do differently?  Today 4 Moms, 35 Kids (KimC at Life in a Shoe, Connie at Smockity Frocks and the Deputy Headmistress at The Commonroom and I) are tackling this topic.

When we had only young children every time I left the house everyone went with me.  We’ve had 3 children 2 and younger, 4 children (3 and younger), 5 children (5 and younger), 6 children (7 and younger), 7 children (8 and younger), 8 children (9 and younger) and 9 children (11 and younger).  So I’ve had a lot of practice.  🙂

Matthew 3 (now 10), Amber 5 (now 13), Kaitlin 4 (now 12), Alyssa 1 (now 9) Carter 6mos (now 8 and not pictured)

Be diligent to train your children.

Being able to expect basic, cheerful obedience from your children is the best way to manage a crowd of them.  If you’re having to man-handle your toddlers, you’ll have a bit of difficulty once you have two children and need to  use your hands for shopping.

Have a plan.

Trying to manage lots of  littles requires  a bit of advance planning.

Just imagine this, I take my just turned 5 year old,  4 year old, 2 year old and 1 year old out of the car in a public parking lot and then I get back in the car to unstrap the baby.    Bad, right?  When you’re managing a mini-multitude having a plan is important for safety and sanity.

Pick a good time of day.  Don’t head out just before meal time or nap time.  Don’t head out if your kids are already cranky.  I like to run errands right after breakfast.

Plan how to safely load and unload the children and stuff into and out of the car.  (Once you get all the children into the car are you going to want to walk across the parking lot to return the cart?  I always park next to the cart return.)

Plan how to walk through the parking lot, who is going to hold who’s hand and what equipment you’re going use (stroller, baby carrier, etc).

Plan how to keep track of everyone while you’re focused or partially focused on shopping.

By the time our children are 2 they know their roll in the plan, whether that is not letting go of their big sibling’s hand or holding onto the shopping cart.

Give your children specific, positive  instructions.

The kids in NYC - Amber (5) Carter (6 mos.) Matthew (3) Kaitlin (4) Alyssa (1)

The kids in NYC Amber (5), Carter (6 mos.), Matthew (3), Kaitlin (4), Alyssa (1)

It’s hard for a little one to understand exactly what you expect when you say, “Stay with Mommy” (how close is “with mommy”?), “Don’t touch anything” (Can they touch your hand,  the shopping cart, the box of crackers you asked them to get?) or “Don’t be crazy”.

Some of the instructions that have worked well for us are, “Two hands on the car” (terrific for when you are loading smaller children into the car), “Hold onto this, right here” and show them exactly where you want them to hold, “Hold onto your sibling’s hand” (perfect for when you have more children than hands)  “Sit on your bottom” and “No noise with your mouth” (great if you want to be  able to hear and talk to the doctor or cashier).

For our first 7 children I had very regular OB appointments (the last 2 were born at home).  The children loved OB appointment days because we made them into adventures.   (Here are 7 ways to enjoy waiting with your kids for ideas of keeping kids happy during the appointment.)

After the appointment we would head off for a picnic lunch and a hands-on museum or park, then we would try to get home in time for a late nap.

Limit errand running.

If possible combine trips or enlist your husband to help.  When you have a houseful of little ones, having several days out of the house can be disruptive.  When you get home from a shopping trip everyone, including mommy is tired and all the household tasks still need to be done, so if you can eliminate or combine errand running trips it’s easier on everyone.

Don’t eliminate “fun” outings.

Head out to the playground or take your kids to the zoo.  These days pass too quickly and once your kids are bigger the schedule gets busier and you won’t have as many opportunities for little kid fun.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Alyssa 1 (now 9) and Kaitlin 4 (now 12) at the Central Park Zoo, NYC

It may not seem like it, but these days pass very quickly and pretty soon your “little” kids will be “big” kids and will ask if they can stay home and babysit while you run the errands.

Take your time, watch and enjoy your children learning and exploring the world around them.  I realize that sometimes you just need to get your tasks done, but don’t always be in  a rush.

Pay attention to what is interesting or important to your kids and make an effort to allow them to explore, learn or do what delights them.

One of my girls FAVORITE part about going out is getting to pump the lever on the paper towels after using a public restroom.  It takes more time and energy for me, but I pick her up and let her pump it herself.  It’s such a big deal to her, she will come home and tell her dad that she got to pump the paper towels for everyone!

If your kids admire the flowers along the road, stop (or make a separate trip) and let them explore and pick some.  Wild flowers make lovely arrangements.

This is my regret.  I wish I had slowed down and enjoyed more when my big kids were little.   I’m much better at it now, but now my little kids are Sadie, Savannah, Colby and Nicholas.  I don’t get another chance with Amber, Kaitlin, Matthew or Alyssa.   So please listen to me on this point at least, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

(Last night when I was commenting about my regrets, my big kids all piped in with a bunch of the fun things that they remember me doing with them.  I’m glad that they remember so much of the good and my little kids will have even more to remember.  God is good.)

Related post: Why I Still Run Errands with Little Ones

Now go check out what the other moms of many have to say about outings with only little kids:

KimC at Life in a Shoe
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Deputy Headmistress at The Common Room

I know I missed somethings because I no longer have only little ones.  Now I just assign each of the big kids to hold the hand of one of the little kids, tell everyone to behave and please don’t block any aisles and off we go.    So what did I miss or how do you do it?

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53 Responses to Going Out with Lots of Littles: 4 Moms, 35 Kids
  1. Harmony
    March 25, 2010 | 8:17 am

    Good point about the specific instructions. Thanks for sharing!

    I have one question for all of you: all four of you say not to go shopping when anyone is tired. Have all your children magically managed to nap at the same time each day?? Because Pearl (my 10-month-old firstborn) likes to change up her nap schedule every few weeks, despite my best efforts to keep her on a set schedule. I can’t imagine trying to coordinate even 2 different nap schedules, much less 4 or 5!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes, our children nap at the same time, although I doubt that it’s because I’m using magic. 😉 We’ve done this from the beginning, anyone who is too old to sleep has quiet time at the same time each day. I think if you look at the other mom’s schedules you’ll see that they have something similar as well.

    Currently our youngest is 23 months so we don’t have a morning napper. When we do, we use that morning nap time to adjust and make sure that their afternoon nap time will fall when everyone else is napping/resting. We also have a range of time when nap time starts (at our house it’s between 1 and 2) so when baby is ready for nap everyone goes down.

    You can see our complete schedule here.

    [Reply]

    Harmony Reply:

    I like the idea of having a range for the start of nap time. And I’d heard the idea of a quiet hour before… that’s definitely something I want to implement in future years. Thank you for the help!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    It will also get EASIER. I don’t know why, but as you have more children they seem to fall into the family system that is already established. Your “family system” doesn’t have an established nap or quiet time yet, (because you just added the first member that needs that time) but by the time you have 2-4 kids it should be well established and those younger ones just seem to go with the flow with very little encouragement.

    The nap range is WONDERFUL. Sometimes I’ll have to rush the big kids through lunch in order to get nap time going for a crashing little one.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Oh, I forgot to mention, for when they are little and still need that morning nap I baby wear them and then they are able to nap anywhere, no matter what we are doing.

    [Reply]

  2. Holly
    March 25, 2010 | 8:41 am

    I completely agree with you on this! Training is key. If your kids are not expected to sit on their bottoms and patiently wait until everyone is done with dinner, how can you expect them to sit well at a dinner out to eat? We get asked all time what our secret is and it’s almost a little embarrassing to say “well, we just work with them and train them to be obedient and follow directions”. My husband is very patient and loves family time. But his idea of family time does not mean spending the evening in the van running all over town doing errands 😉 That means that I need to get them done before he comes home. At times he has had to travel for weeks in a row, coming home only on weekends. I needed to have children that I could take out and get things done with and expect that they would behave. A couple of things we have done are play a game “Yes, Ma’am, I’d be glad to”. I give them a command….go put your shoes by the back door. They say “yes, Ma’am, I’d be glad to” and go do it and come back to me. They all try to be the most dramatic and it’s really a lot of fun! Also, with my little ones I practice walking with me at the house. Close, staying by my side and not wandering off. And lastly, I am blessed to have my Mother close by. For 11 years she cared for my Grandmother in her home and couldn’t always leave her for long. One thing we did was I drove her to do her errands, this allowed her to sit in comfort and not have to drive and I would drop her off at the door of a store and she could just run in and do the pharmacy or whatever she needed. She would then sit in the car with my kids so that I could do my quick, “just need to run in and get one thing” kind of errands. Sometimes for me, it’s the in and out of the car 4 x’s kinds of days that overwhelm me 🙂 Especially in the winter in Michigan 😉

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Practicing at home is a great point. How your children behave at home is how they will behave in public.

    I also agree, often it’s not the errand that is so tough, it’s the in and out of the car with all those babies. 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Nicki
    March 25, 2010 | 8:49 am

    I also park next to the cart return. And I do try to combine all my errands in one day, if possible. I think I spent more time taking it easy and having fun with my girls before I had 4 kids. Now is when I tend to rush, rush, rush.

    [Reply]

  4. Jenn
    March 25, 2010 | 9:11 am

    Thank you! Out of necessity I have learned the practical parts to this post but I really appreciate the exhortations to “Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy”! The second part of this post really touched my heart this morning, I so appreciate hearing these reminders from moms who have gone before because they help me keep going and stay focused on what really matters and they are also just VERY encouraging! Thanks for cheering in my corner 🙂

    We are headed to the Zoo this afternoon at the request of my 2yr old birthday girl, fun! 🙂 We will enjoy it!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m glad that you heard that. I couldn’t wait to get to where I am today, now I wish I’d savored that time I was trying to rush through.

    I’m savoring now, though.

    [Reply]

  5. Heather
    March 25, 2010 | 9:50 am

    I have always parked near the cart return since my first was born just so I wouldn’t have to lug the infant seat any farther than I had to. I had my second before my first was two and it became even more helpful when I had to lug the carseat and hold on to a toddler.

    [Reply]

  6. Heather
    March 25, 2010 | 9:58 am

    ok, so I have 3 teenagers, and 3 littles…my teens NEVER volunteer to babysit while I go shopping!!!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    The motivation of mine is that they won’t have to go with me if they stay home and watch the littles. 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. Jama
    March 25, 2010 | 10:20 am

    I agree training is key. One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “If we aren’t doing it at home, don’t take it on the road.”. By this he means if we aren’t requiring something at home, don’t start doing it when we are out in public. I admit I’ve been guilty of this before and recognize it is usually due to a battle of pride (wanting others to think well of me). Love your practical tips and specific commands verses more general requests. Similar to Heather, we play the “Yes ma’am, Mommy!” game with great success. When others have asked me for help with going out with little ones, I’ve often suggested they make a trip or two with no set agenda other than training. It’s easy to overlook bad behavior when you have a long list of things to get done.

    [Reply]

  8. Annie
    March 25, 2010 | 10:38 am

    Great post- one that I will refer some of my friends and family to because this seems like common sense to me yet I know of many women who just take their children out and about with out considering the things you spoke of.
    I, too, do not take my kids out during certain times of the day because I know I will be setting myself up for failure if I try to make them behave while tired and hungry. I also am very specific with my instructions, even with my 8 year old who is very well-behaved when we go out.
    One of the things you mentioned was taking your children to your OB appointments. Unfortunatly, our OB/GYN will not allow children unless it’s the newborn due to the damage of the equiptment and over all disruptance to the office. When asked what had happened to cause this rule my nurse stated there was one parent in particular who would allow her child to hang on equipment and even stick their hands in a bio-hazard bag.
    Again, great post Kimberly! ☺

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    So SAD!

    My OB and the nurses loved visiting with the kids. As the kids got older and I had one of “those” appointments, the kids would line up against the wall in the hall and sit out there while the doctor examined me. I could hear them chatting with different nurses as they walked by.

    Then afterward everyone fought to offer the kids a sticker. 😉

    [Reply]

  9. bunny
    March 25, 2010 | 10:45 am

    They all grow up too fast! The years are wonderful enjoy,enjoy,and enjoy.

    [Reply]

  10. Gina
    March 25, 2010 | 11:26 am

    thank you, thank you, thank you for this wonderful live blogging!! It is soooooo helpful!

    [Reply]

  11. JenT
    March 25, 2010 | 12:18 pm

    I always park next to the cart return too! Even if the only empty space is at the far end of the parking lot. If there is absolutely no way I can, I let one of the older ones return the cart.
    That’s a good idea about taking them for a fun activity while you’re out. We need to renew our zoo pass soon. We all love the zoo.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Funny, how all us moms of many learn the SAME tricks. 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. PopPopto20
    March 25, 2010 | 12:21 pm

    As you well know, one of my regrets is that I did not spend more time with you children.

    I have a vivid memory from your wedding day of driving home after the reception. Your mother and I were both very tired and a bit nostalgic thinking back over the wonderful years we had with you in our home. Your mother lamented that she had not spent sufficient time with you. After a pause she remarked, “Can you imagine what I would be thinking if we had not home educated her?!”

    The encouragement to enjoy your children is wise counsel. We never realized how much time we spent apart from our children while you were in school until we started to teach you at home. We are grateful to God for the way He led us by His difficult but wise providence.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you, Daddy. I love you!

    [Reply]

  13. chantelle
    March 25, 2010 | 1:21 pm

    Great post and pointers. Thank you for the reminder that we need to stop and enjoy our children before they grow up. And yes, God is good.

    [Reply]

  14. Kate
    March 25, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    My 2-year-old has been trained to stay with me, mostly. She will hold onto my hand, the cart, the stroller, etc. almost automatically. We’re working on training other things now — walking her through how to clean her room, help with certain chores, etc. She’s getting good at it! She is my oldest (I have an 8-month-old too) but we’re aiming for lots. My friends kind of look at her sideways when we walk into a store and she automatically grabs the cart and starts walking alongside, but it’s great! Not that she’s perfect — lol — but she does a pretty good job! We started training her to hold hands and etc. when she was about 15 months, so it’s pretty well ingrained now. It DOES help (I’ve talked to other moms of many before in preparation).

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I’ve often said that having a large family (or wanting one) is a very good motivation to be consistent in training your children.

    You are right, they can be taught. Good work.

    [Reply]

  15. Carey
    March 25, 2010 | 4:16 pm

    This is very helpful!
    The not to distant memories of shopping with 2 under 2, all the crying on the ride home (the kids cried sometimes too) can hopefully be just memories now, after implementing these great tips I’m hopeful shopping will be much smoother.
    But, please hold my hand for a moment, how did you make it out of the house for these outings?
    It seems to take for ever to get out of the house. I’m only just now, slowly, figuring little things out, like, everyone under 6 gets velcro only shoes.
    It still takes a loooong time to get ready. Could you mention some ways to streamline getting ready to go?
    Thanks =)
    Carey

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Carey,

    My best tip for getting out the house more quickly is to wait until your oldest is 6. 🙂

    I remember feeding everyone, getting them ready to go (changing diapers, brushing hair, getting on shoes and socks, etc) then sitting down to nurse the baby. By the time I fed and changed the baby, someone else had dirtied their diaper and someone had spilled water down the front of their outfit. While I handled those things someone would start an argument, so I would take care of that. After that everyone would be hungry so we’d get a snack and then it would be time to nurse the baby again. Seriously!

    I ALWAYS scheduled a full hour to get out of the door and I remember being constantly surprised that it did take that long.

    Now each big kid simply is assigned a little kid to help and we can get out of the door in 15 minutes. So, enjoy while you can and know that it will be over much sooner than you think.

    Sorry I’m not more helpful, but we were never quick about anything when all of our children were small. (We still aren’t very quick.)

    [Reply]

    CookieMonsterKatrina Reply:

    Yes, Kimberly, it is that crazy! In those first six months of nursing it is really hard to get out of the house when you have just littles.

    My aunt gave me some good advice. She told me to limit the number of times I tried to take the kids out each week (like you said). She told me, point blank, “Don’t go grocery shopping with them. Go shopping at night after they’re in bed.”

    [Reply]

    Jenn Reply:

    Once I am ready to the point that I only need to nurse baby I will get everyone out to the van and strap them into their carseats with a small snack or a few books(we keep some books in the van) and then I will nurse baby in the van. Then when I am done I quickly change her if needed, strap her in and we can be on our way! This keeps the others from getting into messes or fights in those last few moments and also encourages them to build patience and self-control as they wait for me to finish.
    I also tend to go out 1st thing after everyone is dressed(we dress after breakfast). Since I still at least help all mine dress once each child is dressed including shoes they sit on big brothers bed while the others finish(I usually dress the current most compliant child first as they are usually able to wait better). We then all go down to the door together and get coats on and out we go. I find that the more I can keep the kids right near me as we ready the more delays can be averted.
    Glad we are all in this wild world of lots of littles together! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Getting in the car to nurse the baby is a great idea that I could have used during the winter months. Back then we had no AC in the car, so that would have been a no-go, but it would have saved me a lot of trouble during the colder months.

    [Reply]

  16. abba12
    March 25, 2010 | 9:06 pm

    I don’t have children yet, but hopefully in the not to distant future.

    The topic of this made me think. I am visually impaired, and thus can’t drive. At the moment my husband takes me to doctors appointments, and my dear grandparents take me shopping and errand-running fortnightly (no idea what I will do if we outgrow their car!) Point is, despite this, I find myself taking the bus or the train weekly for various reasons and errands and such, and ‘field trips’ to parks and museums and things would also be taken on the bus unless I can rope someone in to drive me.

    Do you think I’m as doomed as I feel like I’m going to be? It isn’t the one or two, or even 3 I’m worried about, I can hold two hands and wear the third! nor is it the (hopefully) large brood when they get older, it’s that ‘nice’ inbetween time you spoke about, when you have more children than hands, but they’re all little! By which time we will have also grown out of most average peoples cars, making trips with other people slightly harder as well (Maybe we can buy a van specifrically for other people to drive us around in, lol!) and by which time hopefully hubby will have a more full time job. When the topic of taking littlies out comes up I can’t help but think I will be stuck in my house for a few years!

    Any tips? Any reassurance? Or am I really doomed 😛

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    You are certainly not doomed. The great thing is that, generally speaking, God sends children one at a time. This means that you just have to add one child to your plan each time.

    You can handle the children that God gives you on public transportation. We’ve done public transportation (in New York City) with our 6 or 7 young children. Granted, I didn’t do it by myself, but then I wasn’t used to the whole system. I do know that I could have with some practice and a plan. By the time you have several young ones, your older ones will be quite adept at managing public transportation with you. 😉

    When we had all little kids my husband and I only had one car. Being “stuck” in the house isn’t all that bad. 🙂

    [Reply]

  17. Amy
    March 26, 2010 | 7:13 am

    Very great ideas! I have four that are 8 and under. So, it’s nice to have the 8 and 7 year old keep an eye on the 3 and 2 year old. They each get assigned to one kid. They really enjoy it. Thanks for the tips. I just found your blog not too long ago. Very helpful!

    [Reply]

  18. CookieMonsterKatrina
    March 26, 2010 | 11:19 am

    Such good ideas and good tips. Going out with just little ones is a challenge!

    [Reply]

  19. Tisha
    March 26, 2010 | 11:46 am

    Love this post! When our older children were little, people would say, “I just don’t know how you do it.” Thankfully, we had lots of similar advice from other families who had been successful, and we not only survived, we enjoyed those times with our little ones (and still do). I always tell new moms to keep a bag in the car with a complete change of clothes for each child. That way an accident doesn’t totally upset your morning, or a puddle or creek to play in along the way is not out of the question.

    [Reply]

  20. Jessica
    March 26, 2010 | 5:12 pm

    Thank you so much for posting these tips and reminding us to enjoy our little ones. Currently I have three two and under, and am completely overwhelmed at the task of taking them all to the store, or anywhere for that matter! But since my youngest is almost two months I think it’s time to start getting brave! 🙂

    [Reply]

  21. Mara
    March 26, 2010 | 6:13 pm

    I sooo needed this encouragement today. I have 4 under 4. The youngest being 2 month old twins. I have been out with all of them for short trips, but I needed to go grocery shopping…umm..yesterday!! I put the 20 mo old and one twin in the stroller, carried the other twin in the Ergo and enlisted the 3 1/2 year old as my “helper.” It went so much better then I had expected. We now have milk and goldfish (and choc. donuts!!) and everyone is happy;)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Have you looked at the Moby Wrap? I have one and really love it for little ones. However, the reason I mention it to you is that it’s touted to be GREAT for wearing twins at the same time. 🙂

    And congrats on having milk, goldfish and chocolate donuts in the house. That is a victory!

    [Reply]

    Mara Reply:

    I have never tried the Moby, but I’m not sure I really want to wear both babies at the same time. Nursing two at a time is quite difficult right now. Besides we get enough looks with my one-headed “growth” hanging off of me. I can only imagine what people would do/say if I had a two-headed “growth” hanging from me;)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I can understand not wanting to wear two at once. Since I only had one at a time I can only imagine how “fun” it must be to negotiate those double challenges.

    [Reply]

  22. Andrea
    March 27, 2010 | 9:42 am

    We learned the hard way during a very crowded trip to a children’s museum to put name tags (even just masking tape with their name written on it) on the youngest ones. A couple of summers ago, my now-7 year old got separated from us (the crowd was quite large). Luckily we found him (hysterical) after about ten minutes of frantic searching, but I still shudder to think what might have happened. (He was very shy at the time and a little speech-impaired and would not have been much help to anyone trying to find us. And, hysterical.)

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    My sister does that with her non-talkers when we’re going to be in a crowd. She affixes the child’s name, her name and her cell number to the child’s back. Great idea.

    [Reply]

  23. Steph
    August 13, 2010 | 10:15 am

    Hi, I just ran accross your website yesterday and find it VERY informative. I am presently in the ‘crunch’ stage of having 4 small children from 5 and a half and 13 months and I do go out with them but I cannot control the 2 and a half year old son. He is smart, quick, strong and very active. He’ll hold on to the cart or the siblings hand but only for a minute before he goes off running…. never had this problem with others and frankly, I just don’t know how to make him listen (so that we can have a good time but mostly so that he can safe). We obviously don’t go out often together so he really does get VERY excited when we do so that too compounds the problem. What types of discipline would be age appropriate for this age at a public place???

    Thank-you for your time

    [Reply]

  24. Suzanne
    August 23, 2010 | 7:03 pm

    Discipline these days is a touchy issue, with doctors telling you to “never hit a child” meaning don’t spank them. But it is Biblical. No matter what you choose to do for discipline the need to train him for an outing has to begin BEFORE the outing. I like the suggestions above as a few mentioned above. Besides practicing expected behavior above, and using precise commands like “keep your hand on the stroller” or for our 3 year old “keep this hand on the red latch of the stroller.” you may also need to pre-teach what is expected before you go into the store. If it is a very quiet place we pre-teach before we get out of the car, otherwise on our way into the store. ex: “We are going in the library now. I expect you to stay right with me and use your quiet voices. The librarians are working and people are trying to concentrate. Does everyone understand?” At this point I expect a “Yes Ma’am” from everyone who can speak. If someone does not answer I repeat it until everyone is “on board” with the plan. Once you are in the store or wherever you can just say “remember what we talked about?” Or repeat the expected requirements if necessary. Since yours is so young you may need to stick to short phrases, key words, and leaving if necessary before he gets it right.

    We have 5 small children the youngest just turned 2, so I have had LOTS of outings with your age group. I take them to the grocery store with me every week–all 5. I have ONLY EVER allowed my 2 year-olds to ride in a cart or stroller NEVER to walk. Even a well-behaved 2 year old gets too distracted to walk along and not get into trouble or lost.

    If there is a cart our 2 year old would be in the seat and the baby’s car seat would be in the big part or vice-versa if he would leave the groceries alone and not try to open them. Otherwise we use a double stroller for the 2 year old and baby. If you don’t mind wearing the baby, you could get away with a single stroller.

    If your 2 year old is not used to sitting in a stroller this could be a struggle to train him but you could start out with fun walks down the street or around the yard with the stroller so he thinks it’s a fun thing. Also, I always allowed my 2 year-olds to bring a small blanket or toy that is familiar to them wherever we go.

    As mentioned in the other posts above I would try to go out at a time that the kids feel less crazy, and additionally not feed them any sugar before we go out.

    I am so thankful to all the women who have given me helpful tips, I hope you can use some of the ones on this site as well.

    Blessings!
    Suzanne
    joyfulmotherof5

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    Jenn Reply:

    I am SO with you about 2yr old ONLY riding in the cart! I have started trying to train our 2yr old to walk well with me, but it’s such a hard age. Like you say, even when she is being good, she gets SO distracted! The issue is that we have a new baby on the way (who will join his 4yr old, 2yr old, & 1yr old siblings) so the 2yr old is going to loose her place in the cart soon. Baby wearing would solve my problem, but in Dec. in Michigan I am not sure which will be worse trying to keep NB warm from car to store in the carrier or walking with 2yr old in the store!? lol! My oldest will only be 4yrs old when baby comes so he is not old enough to help with pushing a stroller. Hmm, maybe I will have to do the 2 cart thing -but then I wouldn’t be able to see all the cart occupants at the same time… guess it will be some trial and error to figure this one out! Or maybe we’ll have to have family grocery runs for a while…

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    Suzanne Reply:

    You might try the 1 & 2 year old in the big part of the cart side by side?? My 4 & 6 year old sometimes share. I don’t think they love it, but my 6 year old’s feet hurt sometimes. It works, you just can’t buy a TON of stuff. Maybe??

    Suzanne
    joyfulmotherof5

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    Jenn Reply:

    Thanks! Good idea, especially if I start getting them used to that now.

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    Suzanne Reply:

    You’re welcome! People at the store always ask “How I do it”. My usual answer is “Slowly” (with a smile), but I guess the real answer is: “Strategically– With a lot of forethought and planning” : ) I’m so glad we moms can share ideas!

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    Dawn Garutti Reply:

    We have an autistic (high functioning) 17 yr old son with a pituitary tumor, we were at the neurologists office, & she was asking about his school work & homework etc… I said… Well give him a test & he will ace it, his test scores could get him in Harvard… But his homework practices leave him with a GPA of 1.3… So not so good, she says u don’t make him do his homework… And into this comes “picking your battles” I gave “that certain battle up years ago after YEARS of nagging” he gets thru, teachers work with him… & he manages to pass every year… So I quit the fighting yelling etc… She says u don’t beat him? (She has a smile on her face & is speaking broken English, at this point she’s cracking me up) coming from a Dr, a neurologist no less I said no, she says ” would u like I come to your house & beat him? I said “can I make u a key & a pot of coffee?” Please be my guest, because legally, u CAN!!!! In today’s world sometimes our hands are tied, with my older children I had an ex husband, and was re-married… Didn’t dare touch them he called the cops on us because we didn’t pack the suit case right…. But with my younger kids, all I ever had to do was give “the look” & they knew mom was serious!!! But I just had to tell that story… I love her as a neurologist… For the longest time we had a lousy ped Neuro in our area & she is a breath of fresh air!!!

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  25. Manal
    April 14, 2011 | 10:05 am

    Great post. I have 4 under 8 myself and have gotten myself in a big mess of kids who are backtalking and not listening/obeying, and just are generally rude! Not always of course, but often enough that I am nipping this in the bud.

    I was very much into positive discipline, however, I think I took it too far, and wanted to avoid making them upset and always doing a big song and dance when they were.

    HOW do I turn this around? I really need help. I want them to want to obey, while still giving them the chance to be who they are (that is super important to me)…
    My ‘older’ 2 are 5 and 7 and you would not believe teh attitude.

    I was very depressed and had tons of health and emotional problems when they were younger and I let a lot go out of sheer fatigue, but I’m back and I’m not letting this go any longer. I just have no idea where to start or how!

    Could someone please guide me to a site/blog/anything that would help me do ‘damage control’ on the older 2 and where to start for the younger 2 (2.5 and 10 months)

    thank you!

    Manal

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    Rebekah Reply:

    Raising Godly Tomatoes (a website and a book) has tons of great ideas for discipline for younger and older kids.

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  26. Dyan
    October 14, 2011 | 11:38 pm

    I have 13 kiddos ranging from 1-15. We are foster/adoptive parents so I haven’t been able to instill the “training” from the start. However, I use rhymes. When we are in the parking lot we say, “Put you backs to the car so you don’t go far.” The kids stay right where they need to be. In restrooms, (I have 10 girls) I get nervous about someone walking out with my little ones so when they are finished I say, “It’d sure be neat to see your feet.” Then I have a cutie row of little tennis shoes under my bathroom stall door. When we walk through stores we all “buddy up” by saying, “Don’t you understand that you gotta hold a hand, hey, hey!” The kids all get a partner before the rhyme is said for the second time. We have a lot of fun, but with the sheer numbers we must have a way to make obedience fun while keeping our treasures safe.

    I am really enjoying your website, I am learning so much! Thank you for investing your time!
    Dyan

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  27. Dawn Garutti
    October 17, 2013 | 4:36 am

    I now have 3 grown 26,25, & 24 3 teens (almost and pretty much 4.)17,16,12 &10 & a grand baby that’s already 2…. You slow down when you get OLDER my older kids look at me like I’m off my rocker… Lol they go… “You are not the mother that raised us” because I was in that “hurry” life has such a different meaning with this set of children, it’s almost like a science experiment, it will be rewarding watching life unfold as I have for my grown ones now, especially my beautiful granddaughter!!!! What a joy!!!! Just enjoy them!!!! The years are fleeting!!! You will make it :-)!!!

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