Adventures with Four: How we survived an 8-Hour Roadtrip

We just survived an 8-Hour round-trip road trip with twin 9 month old babies, plus a 5 and almost 8 year old. 

Here’s my travel tips for a successful trip with that many kids in one vehicle:

  • Consider leaving at night or early in the morning so you can get as much of the drive done while all of the kids sleep. We left the house at 4 AM and that bought us a few hours of peaceful drive time. 
  • Dress everyone comfortably. The big kids slept in their athletic shorts and shirts so we didn’t have to worry in the morning. The babies were in their footie pjs for the first leg of the trip. 
  • Bring a blanket for each kid. Someone is bound to get cold. 
  • Be sure everyone has pottied before you leave anywhere. 
  • Try to arrange seating so that someone can sit between the babies so you can feed or play with them, as necessary. 
  • Bring a bag of toys that you can rotate out. 
  • Bring extra pacifiers and keep them handy. We tend to always be missing one. 
  • Have wipes within reach. You never know when you’re going to need to clean something up- whether big or small. 
  • We knew the girls were going to go through 3 bottles each on the trip, so we packed a bottle bag with that many bottles and three shakers, a gallon of water, plus the formula. Some people suggested packing the pre-measured formula but it seemed just as easy to pack the big tub of it when you’re making this many bottles at a time. Oh, and we don’t warm the bottles- they just drank them room temperature, which made it way easier. 
  • Build in plenty of time for stops. 
  • We changed diapers in the vehicle because it was easier and cleaner than many of the restrooms. 
  • Have a general idea of where you can stop and eat that is kid friendly. Our favorite road trip stop is Cracker Barrell. 
  • Pack plenty of things for the big kids to do. We let Will take his DS and Anna got to watch a movie in my iPad. I also stocked a bag of goodies from the Target dollar section including sticker books, coloring books, card games, etc.  
  • Bring some healthy snack choices. We brought grapes, crackers, squeezy fruit. It kept them from wanting the junk from the convenience stores. 
  • Have a change of clothes handy for the kids- big and little. You never know when you might need it and you don’t want to have to pull out suitcases to find something. 
  • Bring help, if possible. We were fortunate to have Garen’s mom and his 17-year-old cousin along. It made it much easier and more fun for everyone. 
  • Use a van, if possible. We are fortunate enough to have been loaned a 12-passenger Ford Transit to take. We would’ve had to take two cars otherwise. This gave us plenty of room for everyone AND our stuff. 

We not only survived, we had a great time. It was a fast and furious trip but we all had a blast in Branson with the family!

What road trip tips do you have for traveling with kids? I’d love to hear them!


Twin Tips: Surviving Sickness with Twins plus Two

My heart breaks when my babies are hurting. It’s got to be the worst feeling ever to see them in pain. Last Sunday, Kate had a virus and then Clara got it a few days later, despite our attempts to sanitize and separate. You can see we were both worn out (even though I kind of look upset.)

Having sick babies is hard work. Thought I’d share a few tips that help us get through it:

  • Separate sick kids from healthy kids as much as you can. I realize this is sometimes easier said than done and it seems to not have worked this time for us but it has in the past. 
  • Sanitize. Sanitize your hands. Sanitize everything you or your sick one has touched. We use a lot of Lysol and Clorox wipes because they’re convenient. 
  • This round of sickness was the vomitting kind. Always a favorite. Obviously babies can’t tell you when they’re going to puke so mine just cry, cough, and then puke on whatever they’ve got in front of them. In my case, it seems to happen when they’re asleep on my chest. It gets on everything this way. What I found to be best is to strip them to their diaper, wrap them in a cuddly blanket rather than PJs and then put either a burp rag, soft towel or something on you to catch anything. Mind you, I learned this after multiple wardrobe changes. 
  • I like to hold and cuddle my sick babies. I think it makes me feel better knowing they’re feeling my love. Everyone is different and this isn’t always possible for me with four kiddos to tend to but it is nice when it can. 
  • Make sure they’re getting enough fluids. You should be able to tell by how much they’re drinking and if they’re still having wet diapers. If in doubt, talk to your pediatrician. You do not want a dehydrated baby. 
  • When you have a sick one, make things as easy as possible around the house for you. This may mean letting your older kids watch a movie, getting take-out, or eating on paper plates. 
  • Always keep Infant Tylenol and/or Advil on hand in case they have fever. The last thing you want to do is have to go to the pharmacy. Also, make sure you know how much your baby weighs so you can quickly measure the correct dosage. 
  • Take care of yourself too. Especially if you’re still nursing. I’m terrible about eating and drinking enough when I’m busy tending to sick babies. The better health you’re in, the less likely you’ll catch it too. It’s terrible when mommy or daddy get sick!
  • If you feel uncomfortable about your kids’ sickness, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician. Always trust your “mommy (or daddy) gut.”

There you go- tips from a mom of four, including twin babies. What other tips do you have for surviving sicknesses?

Twin Tips: How to Include Older Siblings

Will and Anna were 7 and 4 respectively when we had Clara and Kate. I read quite a bit about preparing older kids for new siblings but there wasn’t much out there about preparing them for welcoming two (or more) to the family. 

I should start off with the disclaimer that I am not a child psychologist, counselor, or even always the most attentive mother but we think that our older kids have handled this big adjustment very well. 

Here are a few tips from our house to yours if you’ve got older siblings to prepare for twins:

  • Take special care in deciding when you will tell them about the babies. I’m not trying to be negative but we waited awhile to make sure everything was ok with both babies before telling Will and Anna. I couldn’t imagine having to tell them that something happened. I realize this is a very personal decision. 
  • Let your children’s teachers know early on so you can be involved and find ways to communicate easily. It got to the point that I couldn’t attend a lot of school activities because I already was missing so much work. Teachers can be a good support for your kids and make this transition easier.  
  • Try to be as involved as possible with them before the babies come. There’s a chance with twins that they’ll be premature and you won’t want to get them out in public much. This can be hard on your older kids. 
  • Involve them in the pregnancy as much as they want to be. Anna wanted to love on my tummy but Will was much more reserved. Each child is different and we respected that. 
  • Find a good support network early on in the pregnancy to start interacting with the kids and become more involved with the regular routine. They will be better prepared to step in and easily pick up where they need to when the babies arrive. 
  • Let them be involved in picking out a few things for the babies- whether it’s clothes, toys or stuff for the nursery. Including them in preparations will help them feel important. 
  • Try to keep the routine as normal as possible for them after the babies come home. I am a strong believer that kids thrive on routines. Our morning and night time routines stayed mostly the same, including dinner as a family so we could talk to everyone. It’s hard, so don’t put too much stress on yourself to make this happen every day. 
  • Once the babies arrive, make it a point to take time daily to do something with your older kids without a baby in your arms. This one was very hard for us but it was important. Most days it was just tucking them in, reading a book, or doing homework but they need to feel special too. 
  • Plan some time out for them to do something fun with you. It doesn’t have to be elaborate- going out to eat, to the movies, or the park will make them feel special. This will help you get out without babies too!
  • Our family and friends were great about making it a point to take the older kids to do fun things. This made things exciting for the kids. 
  • For some this may seem materialistic but we put together gifts bags from Clara and Kate to Will and Anna. Nothing too fancy- Will got a batman shirt and beanie and Anna’s was a sparkly outfit. Amongst all of the goodies that the twins got this was nice for them to get to open something. 
  • Take good care of yourself- both mom and dad. All of your kids need you. You need to eat and sleep as much as you can. If you’re struggling, get help, if possible – whether it is bringing in a babysitter to help around the house or going to see your doctor about possible postpartum depression. 
  • Have fun, make jokes and smile. This is a very small window of time. Check out my post on tips for what to do when feeling overwhelmed. These tips have helped me throughout the hard days with both my big and little kids. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the constant needs of two newborns. No parent aims to intentionally ignore their older children but there may be times that the older kids feel this way. The above tips can hopefully help to limit the times that this happens. If you’re taking time to read these tips, chances are you are a great parent so relax, smile, and just make the most of every day with your little and big ones.