As parents of multiples, it seems like we’re all guilty of some hypocrisy. In some pristine golden age with abundant time on our hands and no multiples underfoot, we judged a multiple parent. My guilty incident occurred when my singleton was 10 months old. She and I were at the monstrous and wildly fun O’Brien Park playground in Parker. The shiny new playground equipment was swarming with kids of all ages. I was right there behind my little girl, navigating the stairs, bridges, and even the twisty slides with her. Then I spotted a mom, alone, with twins. She was easy to find: frantic, running back and forth from opposite sides of the playground trying unsuccessfully to keep up with her 18 month old twins. They were acting like normal toddlers, running, crying, laughing, not paying any attention to where mom was in the sea of kids. The mom, in tears, finally asked me to look after one of the twins while she tried to find the other. “She’s so foolish,” I thought. “Doesn’t she know what she’s doing?”
Then I had twins. And through the sleep deprivation that started during the pregnancy, months of desperately trying to keep up with my infants and toddler alone while my husband was at work, and an overall diminished grasp on reality, I found myself one afternoon with a twin under one arm, running after the toddler (because she was faster) and knowing that I just turned my back on the other twin who was lost in a sea of children at one of the largest playgrounds in Greenwood Village, Westlands Park. I could feel those judging eyes of the other parents on me. “She’s so foolish…”
So for my fellow sleep deprived, slightly insane parents of multiples whose normal capacity for common sense is temporarily out of whack, here are some tips on surviving the playground with multiples:
1) Stick to the small playgrounds. Look for ones with one, maybe two structures that you can see entirely around when standing. A playground with one entry and exit is prime!
2) Choose a playground that is at least 30 feet away from the road. Toddlers run. Twin toddlers run in opposite directions. It’s a given. If your toddler is running toward the road you need time to grab the twin closest to you and run towards the one in danger. (Note: Murphy’s Law of Multiples states that if you do not grab your closest multiple when saving the other, your first multiple will be nowhere in sight when you get back.)
3) Be prepared! Try to choose a playground with a bathroom and bring a change of clothes, food and water, a first aid kit, ice packs, and sunscreen. Pretend like you’re going into the wild…because you are going into the wild. (The City of Aurora has great playgrounds with bathrooms.)
4) Visit the big playgrounds (Westlands Park and O’Brien Park for example), but only when you have one adult per child. This saves what little sanity you have left.
5) Have fun! The more you minimize the opportunities for stress, the more fun you and your kids will have. With any luck they’ll fall asleep on the way home and you can find a nice shady parking lot to catch some ZZZ’s yourself!
Jennifer Smith-Daigle is a stay-at-home mother of a third grade daughter and twin kindergarten boys. She and her boys are survivors of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, being some of the first 200 people in the United States to be cured by Fetoscopic Laser Ablation surgery. Jennifer’s life before kids included world travel, historic preservation, and archaeology digs. When she’s not busy with a house full of kids and enough mammals to constitute a small zoo, Jennifer finds freedom in freelance writing, martial arts, and gardening.