I don’t profess to be an expert in the area of toddler management. In fact I’m on the steepest learning curve imaginable however I thought I would share what I have learnt along the way as we try all modes of transport and outing experiences with our almost 2 year old twins. I remember when I was pregnant being told by another twin mum that my days of getting out and about were over for the next 5 years. I saw that as a challenge and have never looked back. Most things are doable – just with modifications for your new status as a fully fledged family.
Planning and preparation
I am often accused of overdoing it in this department but I can tell you now this is the most important part of any trip. Gone are the days when I could wing it and village hop, beach stop and sip champagne until sundown in all manner of quirky bars.. sigh. I have lists of what to pack saved on my phone so I don’t have to constantly remember what is needed. Timing is everything and we know that being able to stick to their daily routine in terms of sleeping and meal times as much as possible means more relaxed kids.
Bus – if you can manage to get all your gear into the pram/buggy then it is not a bad option. We tend to use the bus a lot for short trips around London. If we need to make a swift exit and return home there is always the option of a black cab which can fit us and either of our tandem and side by side prams.
Tube – honestly we have not attempted this though if you were going between stations with step free access quite doable. Trains are quite straightforward having done a couple of trips from Paddington and Kings Cross.
Being Australian however we do love our car – the super fun bus Citroen Grand Picasso seven seater that can fit all of our considerable stuff as well as a couple of grand parents at a push. The car gives us a lot of flexibility as well as ability to maximise nap times in a familiar environment
Research your destination
Make sure you have identified a play ground or area of grass that the kids can run off some steam on. I have been known to search for hours for the perfect country pub with a great menu and a kids playground and it always pays off.
Spare clothes, hats, gloves, nappies, wipes, towel – for those impromptu run through a fountain moments. We always bring colouring books and pencils which are very useful when waiting for food to arrive to the table at restaurants and cafes. Books for reading are fantastic too. We also have an iPad that can be used for games or watching videos but I would keep that as a last resort as it can be overstimulating for some kids who then won’t sleep. Horrors.
In my experience you can never have too many. Luckily my two are obsessed with those apple and cinnamon mini rice cakes but I have learned the hard way that some snacks are to be avoided. Case in point – certain snack bars that crumble and disintegrate all over kids and car leaving children completely distraught over their inability to stuff the item into their mouths. Also you had better be able to offer them either a) exactly the same snack or b) the snack they prefer and inevitably c) both.
We tend to eat our biggest meal of the day at lunchtime when we are out with the kids. Not only do they love being included around the table as this rarely happens during the week, but it keeps them occupied with new foods to taste and experiences to try. After all that sensory overload they are usually more than ready for a nap if you pop them into the pram and go for a nice long walk afterwards.
Sense of humour
Despite all your planning things will go wrong but that’s ok as usually those are the moments that help you write posts like these or acquire family legends like the time we had to do an emergency full clothing and nappy change on the grass outside a very chic cafe in Lyon after a very visual and messy poo-splosion. Yay.
Overall making the effort to get out and about with the kids has been fantastic. They are being exposed to so many different experiences beyond the walls of our home and this opportunity is one of the major reasons we decided to move to London.
Do let me know if you have any questions about travelling with twin toddlers. When I feel up to it and the scars have fully healed I will do a post on what I learnt from our trip from Australia to the UK when they were 18 months old. Not for the faint hearted but also not enough to put us off long distance travel with toddlers completely.
Here are some posts on day trip ideas from London