Three kids who are so young and cannot wipe their own asses is hard. Much of the time (M, T, W, Th 9-1 and F 9-12) Samara is in school. Some of the time (M, W 9-1, F 9-12) Samara and Elie are in school. Some of the time they're all sleeping (usually 1:30 - 3 these days). All of the rest of the time I have them all, usually all awake.
If everyone is happy and nothing is wrong, and everyone is listening to me, we could go anywhere! We could go shoe shopping, because I could work with one at a time and the other two would wait patiently. We could go to any playground, because when someone is doing something dangerous, or running away, they would stop when I said stop. We could go to a playdate anywhere, because they would all play nicely and safely. But...the reality is that someone is often unhappy, or shy, or needs a little extra something, and we can't go anywhere. We can go to very few places, actually, and we have to have certain things with us in order to do it.
We can go to a few gated playgrounds (Larz Anderson and Newton Highlands are my favorite). We can go to the Farmers' Market - and we have gone, nearly every week since August. We can go on a walk if I have a double stroller and also bring a scooter. Sam and Elie usually take turns on the scooter. Though Samara can (and DID!) hike 4 miles in one day, she sometimes craps out when we're on a walk, and when I have a 2 year old and a baby - I literally CANNOT carry her or help her. I need her to figure it out. But...sometimes Elie is happy to scoot, and she can ride in the stroller. We can go to someone's house for a playdate if their house is completely Elie-Safe and if they don't mind open nursing. We cannot really go out for meals (kill me now). We definitely cannot run errands (I took a babysitter with me shoe shopping for the kids, and even that was SO hard!). I can do anything if I have 2 of the 3 - as long as those two are not Elie and Koby at the same time. Otherwise, I know my limits.
And when I leave the house I always have: a water bottle for Elie, Samara and myself, 5 diapers for the baby and 4 diapers for Elie, wipes, 2 plastic bags (one for dirty clothes and one for a dirty diaper), hand sanitizer, change mat, extra clothes for Koby (extra clothes for the other two are in the back of the minivan at all times), tissues, emergency snack - usually bars, sometimes cereal or fruit, a baby carrier (hoping to get Koby in the Ergo. He has been too small so far, so we have been using the sling and Moby), stickers or some other entertainment book in case of being stuck somewhere, my wallet, my phone, sunglasses and any weather-related necessities.
This is from the Farmers' Market yesterday. There is a booth for Green Newton, and the woman, Margaret (dressed as the devil here) runs the booth and is FANTASTIC with kids. She always has something fun to show them - caterpillars, dead beetles, cocoons, butterflies you can make out of folding paper...SO MANY THINGS. We usually play at her booth for a long while, then we take balls and play up at the basketball courts. In the middle we try to buy some veggies and fruit.
Today the kids didn't have school, as it was a professional development day for the teachers. (Next week will be our first full week of school, though last week was our fault as we were traveling on Friday. It's November next week. That's crazy). Many of the kids from school went to this trampoline park where the kids get to jump and bounce around. Though I haven't been to this specific one, these are the types of places where you really have to be an active parent and help your kid if they need it (or if your kid is jumping on someone's head, and perhaps that kid needs your help). I KNOW that if I went there and I had to nurse the baby, or if he had a pooplosion, or if someone needed to go to the bathroom, or if someone was feeling shy and didn't want to participate...or...or...or...I would find it super stressful and not enjoyable.
So instead of joining the rest, the kids and I went to Drumlin Farm. We have been to this farm countless times since May, and we absolutely love it. I haven't yet gone with all kids alone, but also I didn't have a stroller Koby could be in, so I was always stuck wearing him. Changing Elie's diaper or helping Elie at all while wearing Koby is not easy, so I had always gone with a babysitter, family member, or some other adult. Koby FINALLY fits in all of our strollers, and he could stay all bundled up like a burrito while the other kids had a great time at the farm. And it was so super fun. We DID have a pooplosion. We DID have a few times where someone was grumpy or cold, or whatever, but being in a safe place where the kids can run around and I don't have to watch every second, and also being able to put everything down into a stroller made it so that we could cope with each moment and even have a great time.
Today at the farm
I forgot Elie's coat at home, so I gave him my fleece, and he was somehow fine (though he did have a full set of long underwear on). We just rolled up the sleeves...