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A Guide to Aulani with 2-Year-Old Twins

When traveling with toddlers, it can sometimes feel like all ‘kid-friendly’ activities are too big for them, which makes travel feel impossible. But Aulani does a great job of intentionally designing spaces for all age groups, so even the tiniest visitors will enjoy their visit.  When visiting Aulani with toddlers, we never felt like they were missing out (even though they couldn’t do EVERYTHING) because there were so many great activities just for them. 

And since our toddlers are twins (double the trouble bum bum tss), we really need to plan our trip to Aulani so that they will be happy.  Every twin parent knows, if twins aren’t happy, no one is happy. OK maybe not every twin parent- but this is definitely the case for our kiddos.  

Before you go:

Look for a Deal

Traveling to Hawaii can be expensive, but with careful planning, you can keep costs down on your trip.  One of the best things about traveling with small children is that you don’t have to follow school calendars, so you can travel during ‘off’ or ‘shoulder’ seasons when prices are significantly lower.  Use Google to check flight and hotel prices throughout the year to find the best time to go. For Hawaii, ‘low’ season is fall and late spring, after spring break (which is typically in March), with mid-summer and mid-winter being ‘peak’.   

Also, check out David’s Vacation Club Rentals for deals on suites at Aulani.  This service allows you to essentially buy unused Disney Vacation Club Points, and use them to book at the resort.  You’ll still have a room in your name with all the regular amenities, but with much lower prices. Be sure to book VERY early with this service.  Rooms usually book up 10+ months in advance.  

Check the Weather

 We always assume that Hawaii has perfect weather year-round, but that’s not quite the case.  Hawaii does get a substantial amount of rain- nearly 19 inches a year, mostly November-February, and temperatures get as low as the low-60s °F- not exactly frigid, but not perfect for a beach vacation either.  You can certainly have an enjoyable vacation in Hawaii any time of year, but you have a better chance for more sunny days if avoid the winter months.

Aulani
The view from our floor.

Getting There

At about 6 hours from the mainland to Honolulu, the flight can be tough with toddlers.  However, we flew into the Honolulu airport and rented a car. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the airport to Aulani, and you’ll find a Target conveniently on the way.  We love to stop for diapers, milk, snacks for the room, and maybe a toy or two. Keep in mind, there is a daily fee for parking. 

Another option for transportation is Aulani’s shuttle service.  It’ll take you and your family to and from the airport for a reasonable price. You’ll save money and the hassle of dealing with a car this way.

I really love how your relaxing vacation really begins the moment you pull up to Aulani.  Aulani staff helped us out of the car and greeted us with beautiful leis, a fresh drink, and a small necklace as a gift for each of my kids.  We found all the staff to be exceptionally friendly and kind and really make you feel at home at Aulani. We arrived in the late afternoon- a busy time for check-in, but the kids were able to play in the small play area across from the check-in counter, and staff did a great job of getting everyone checked in quickly. 

Aulani with twin toddlers
Bedheads and the beach! This is the beautiful lagoon at Aulani

The Room

Room Types

Aulani has 3 main room types: standard, Deluxe studio, and the villas (1-3 bedroom).  Aulani will provide family-friendly add-ons for any room type, including pack n plays (even a second one for twin parents, free of charge!), bed rails, high chairs, and outlet covers.

The standard room is just that – a standard room but with some high-end touches. The rooms are up to date and spacious enough for 2 pack n plays, plus room to play. There are tons of cute yet tasteful Disney hints – like the Mickey light fixtures or ears hidden in the bedding design. The room comes standard with family-friendly amenities such as a mini-fridge, a small dining table, and a roomy bathroom with a tub. The large balcony is a great feature as well.  It’s a nice spot to sit and relax after the kids have gone to sleep, or to sit and drink your morning coffee if your child happens to get up at 4am. And it’s a lifesaver for drying swimwear. 

The studio is very similar to the standard room, but it adds a sink and a small counter space. This comes in handy for washing bottles and sippy cups and gives you a nice designated area for snacks. 

The villas come in three sizes: 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms. They all have a full kitchen and dining area. The 1 bedroom has 1 bathroom, the 2 bedroom has 2 bathrooms, and the 3 bedroom has 3 bathrooms.  All are spacious and luxurious.  

So Which Room do you Pick?

Of course, the villas are amazing.  If you are traveling with family or friends, sharing a larger villa means you can spend more time together, and be able to relax in the room, and maybe even cook some meals together.  If staying in a villa is in your budget, absolutely do it!  

I know for most, the villas are not going to be an option.  And it’s totally ok. You are not going to be disappointed staying in ANY room at Aulani.   All the rooms are very nice, and besides, it’s not about the room. It’s all about the resort!  But.. if the price difference is not huge, I’d upgrade from the standard room to the studio. It’s not a huge difference, but when traveling with small children, the little dishwashing/snack area is nice.  

We booked our room SUPER last minute for this trip and chose a studio room with a view looking inland.  It was great! Plenty of space for our family of 4, all the amenities we needed or wanted, and honestly, we didn’t spend a lot of time there. If I had my choice of view, I’d pick pool view- super fun to see all the kids playing in the pool!

The Resort

Our Top 15 Aulani Experiences with Toddlers

1. Menehune Bridge

This is the ultimate for toddlers! This absolutely was the highlight of the trip for my 2-year-old twins.  It is essentially a play structure with water spraying everywhere. From the moment my kids saw it until they couldn’t physically play anymore, they enjoyed running around, climbing, and exploring this area.  One of my favorite memories from this trip was when Dax wanted to do the kid’s waterslide, on Menehune Bridge, so badly, but he was too afraid. He stood up at the top of the slide over and over and just couldn’t do it.  Finally, with the help of an Awesome Aulani pool attendant, he did it! He was SO proud and beaming for the rest of the day!

2. Waikolohe Stream

This Lazy River was well-loved by my little guys because we could go under bridges, and look at the flowers and trees.   Plus, they liked the excitement of the current pulling us quickly around. Plus, if you float it in a tube, it’s a nice way to wind down at the end of the day.

3. The Waterslides

The ‘mountain’ onsite has a couple of bigger waterslides; the Volcanic Vertical- an enclosed body slide, and the Tubestone Curl- an open-air tube slide.  The waterslides do not have a height requirement, but riders must be able to slide alone on the Volcanic Vertical and in their own tube or in their own section of the double tube on the Tubestone Curl.  Our guys were only brave enough to do the Tubestone Curl with mom and dad in the other side of a double tube. In the double tube, you can wrap your legs around a toddler to make sure they stay in. Lines tended to get a bit long on these waterslides, so head over early in the day to avoid waiting

4. Keiki Cove Splash Zone

Keiki cove with toddlers
Keiki Cove Splash Zone- great for babies and toddlers

This spray park is designed for kids under 5, and my toddlers had fun exploring.  They definitely loved this area more during our visit the previous year, but it was still a big hit for them!  My twins tend to get a little cold swimming, and this area is great because they are still in on the water action, but they aren’t completely underwater, so they stay a bit warmer.

5. Ka Maka Grotto

Ka Maka Grotto is the stunningly beautiful infinity-edge pool with a great cave area.   The kids loved looking over the edge of the pool (though I’ll admit, I didn’t really like that), and checking out the great details – shells and ‘sea creatures’ in the cave walls.  Our toddlers aren’t EXTREMELY comfortable in the water, and they enjoyed that there were lots of things to hold on to rather than being just out in the open pool.  

6. Building Sandcastles at the Beach

Aulani beach- toddlers
Building sandcastles is serious business

The beach at Aulani is wonderful. Its located on a manmade lagoon, so the beach is protected from the powerful Hawaiian current.  Pick up some sand toys (complimentary for Aulani guests) at Makiki Beach Rentals and have a blast building and destroying sand castles, and playing in the water.  

Aulani Beach with toddlers
LOOOOVED the sand

7. Watching Fish in the Rainbow Reef Snorkeling Lagoon

Watching Fish in the Rainbow Reef Snorkeling Lagoon.  Aulani is home to a fabulous man-made snorkeling lagoon full of colorful fish, including lots of ‘Nemo’s’ and ‘Dory’s’, and there is a great little underwater window where observers can watch snorkelers or just check out the fish.  A sign identifying many of the fish is located near the observation window, so you can teach your kids many of the fish types. My boys LOVED this little window. We stopped by for 20 minutes every time we even walked near the area. 

Aulani allows kids of all ages to participate in snorkeling, as long as they can swim independently and they are accompanied by an adult, however, we felt pretty confident that our boys were not ready to try out snorkeling yet.  

8. Watching Koi at the Koi Pond.

This second fish sighting opportunity was also a hit with my toddlers.  The koi fish pond is near a beautiful man-made waterfall, and the ‘Olelo Room restaurant and bar.  Every time we walked by, my boys wanted to stop and take a peek at their fish friends. You can use this to your advantage by getting an outdoor table at the ‘Olelo Room, and allowing the kids to watch koi while you enjoy an appetizer and a drink.  

'Olelo Cafe- Koi pond
We spent quite a lot of time checking out these fish

9. Mo’Olelo Fire pit Storytelling

The stories told at the fire pit are quick, 15-minute traditional Hawaiian stories told around the fire near the beach.  The storyteller is AMAZING and really keeps the stories interesting even for impatient toddlers. Sometimes, Moana even shows up to help tell the story.  We started including this in our daily schedule maybe because I enjoyed it so much.  

10. Getting Shave Ice at Papalua

Papalua Shave Ice Aulani
My kids’ favorite food at Aulani- shave ice with Mickey Ears!

Getting shave ice became something of a daily routine item for us- I mean why not- we’re on vacation!  It’s a satisfying and refreshing treat after playing on the beach or in the water, and the servings are SO large, they are shareable for at least 2 people- maybe the whole family!  We love with mango, strawberry, and lychee, plus sweetened condensed milk on top and the Mickey ears for a fun add-on.   

11. Breakfast on the Beach

Aulani Beach - breakfast from Ulu Cafe
Our favorite spot to eat- the beach for a picnic! Try not to notice my kid’s crooked haircut. Instead, focus on the beautiful Hawaiian background.

What a great way to start your day!  Sitting down to a nice meal in a restaurant isn’t a ton of fun when you have twin toddlers (or even if you just have ONE toddler- still hard!), so why not give yourself a break and skip it! Pick up breakfast at the Ulu Cafe where you can find a variety of cold and hot breakfast options.  My favorite was the acai bowl. My kids loved the breakfast sandwiches. The beach is quiet first thing in the morning, and so let energetic toddlers use this space to burn off a bit of their vacation excitement while also getting a great first meal of the day.

12. Character Breakfast at Makahiki and Character Sightings all over Aulani

Aulani is known for the character breakfast, and for good reason! It’s a ton of fun! The food is great, and fun for little kids.  Look for Mickey Mouse waffles, and bananas cut to look like dolphins. The Makahiki provides nonstop entertainment as well. You’ll get to see Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy, and others, plus enjoy songs and games, and children will be invited to come up and participate!  Remember to book early because the character breakfast is VERY popular and always sells out.  

In addition to the character breakfast, there are character sightings all over the resort.  Check the daily schedule, or just keep your eyes open. Dax saw Moana ‘in the wild’ and was SUPER excited.  It seems the random sightings are almost more fun for them.  

13. Looking for Menehune

Menehune are mythical dwarfs from Hawaiian folklore.  Tiny menehune statues all over Aulani and toddlers will have fun looking for them!  Take a stroll around the grounds and see how many you can find!

14. Rent a movie from Pau Hana Hall and Watch it in Your Room

Ok, so maybe this isn’t a reason to go to Aulani. But it is a nice way to end your magical Disney day.  Aulani does have movie nights out on the lawn, and if your little guys can stay up late enough to participate, they are highly recommended.  My toddlers were beat by 5 pm every night, so we opted out. But movie nights in the room were a fun little ritual for us!

Aulani Studio room- two tired kids
SOO tired after a big day of playing. But, they loved picking out a movie to watch in the room.

15. Offsite Excursions

Offsite excursions.  Our favorites with 2-year-olds were the Dole Plantation and the Farmers Market!  Kids loved seeing pineapple growing on the bush, and still talk about it regularly!  The farmers market had an amazing variety of delicious, locally grown fruit- flavorful tiny bananas, juicy lychee, pineapples, mangos, etc, plus exquisitely prepared foods, and the kids even spotted some wild chickens! There are, of course, tons of amazing offsite excursions, and the amazing concierge service at Aulani can suggest a great outing, and set it up for you.

Dole plantation

And don’t forget to spend as much time as you can just doing nothing, if your kids will ever let you. 

A Few Extra Travel Tips for Visiting Aulani with Toddlers

  • More than likely, your littles will be up at 4 am, or some awful time in the morning because of the time change.  Just embrace it. Beat the rush to the beach. Watch the sunrise. Enjoy the quiet of the morning in the soon-to-be bustling resort.  
  • On the flip side, if your toddlers are falling asleep every evening, try getting them to sleep in the stroller.  That way, you can bring your dozing toddler into a restaurant and enjoy a relaxing meal for once! Alternatively, use Aulani’s trained babysitters, so that you aren’t stuck in the room from 5 pm.  
  • If your kids are nappers, and will nap in the stroller, take the paved trail that follows the beach.  The ocean breeze keeps you cool, and the views are breathtaking. You might as well enjoy yourself, rather than being cooped up in your room while your kids are napping.  
  • Check out the Daily ‘Iwa every day.  The resort has copies of the daily schedule all over the resort, about one day in advance.  There are tons of little activities going on, like character sightings, crafts, and dance parties that you won’t want to miss.  This place is huge, so if you don’t know about something, you’ll likely miss it altogether. 
  • Give yourself a break and go at the kids’ pace. For toddlers, we find they need an easy day every 4 days or so where they are just too tired to be running around all the time. Take advantage of that day for any outings that involve a lot of driving, or just to relax in the room and take a slower pace for once. 
  • Aulani follows the Disney protocol and kid’s meals come with a small fruit cup and veggie sticks, so ordering a kid’s meals does often make sense here.  It’s so hard to get toddlers to eat anything even in the realm of healthy on vacation, but it’s nice to at least put a vegetable in front of them 🙂
  • Aulani does have an awesome kids program- Aunty’s Beach House.  But unfortunately, if your kids are under 3 or not yet potty trained, you won’t be able to participate.  But, they have open house’s so you can check it out and plan for your NEXT trip to Aulani

Disney Aulani is a great destination for twin toddlers! With a million and 1 things to do, plus the space to just relax – Aulani is a favorite for my little family.  Have you visited Aulani? What was your favorite part?

Updated 2/27/20

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As a twin mom, managing daily life JUST AT HOME can seem impossible. Getting out and doing anything out of the house can feel like a pipe dream. Between JUST carrying the two babies, all the stuff you need to lug around, and nap and feeding limitations, no one blames you for not wanting to get out. But once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad. In fact, going out with your infant twins can even be FUN!

In the early days of twin-mom life, I was a slave to the clock, always on a three-hour feeding schedule. But, groceries had to be purchased, errands had to be run, and we wanted to be able to get out with family and friends on occasion, so I figured out how to make the logistics of twins out work for me.

First brewery visit- LOVED it!

For breastfeeding twin moms, feeding away from home can be pretty intimidating. As far as I can tell, tandem-feeding while away from home is basically impossible. Feeding them individually just TAKES SO LONG. For your first couple of short outings, I’d recommend taking it easy on yourself and go out in between feedings. Of course, you can’t really schedule when they will be hungry, but you do usually have a pretty good idea. Plan ahead and try to get things packed up BEFORE you feed them. As soon as you finish nursing, you’ll be good to go (except the inevitable spit-up clean up, or last-minute diaper change). This at least gets you out the door, and used to the idea outings with your twins. By the time my twins were a month or two old, I felt confident (ish) and wanting more, so we started venturing out a bit further.

First trip to Canada (which is really only 1 hour away)

The Gear

Double carriers?

I’m pretty well known in my family as an over-researcher. So, as expected, I researched the crap out of all the options for twin baby carriers. The double carriers SEEMED like a slam dunk, but as I dug into more, most are really only for small babies, and are not extremely well designed. Comfort is pretty lacking, and as babies get older and heavier, double carriers just won’t work anymore.

Single carriers, are much more comfortable, versatile, and can for infants babies and kids as old as 2 years (or older). PLUS, if you DO happen to have help, you can easily have a spouse or family member share the load and carry one of the babies. When you don’t have help, you can even stack two, one front and one back, and comfortably carry BOTH infants. OR, I put both infants in one carrier when they were very small (though I had to be paying close attention to them).

Two Ergobabies

Structured Carriers

Ergobaby 360, when used with the infant insert works for babies 7 lbs all the way up to 45 lbs, and allows you to front carry facing in or out, back carry, or side carry you infant. I also highly recommend the LILLEBaby for an even more comfortable experience while babywearing.

Having two baby carriers, rather than one meant I spent a little bit more upfront, but I was able to use the baby carriers for years instead of just a couple of months. They gave me the versatility and comfort I was looking for and we used them ALL THE TIME. I know many twin moms buy a double carrier, try it twice, NOT love it, and get rid of it.

Ring Slings

Another great option is ring slings. They are soft, breathable, and work great even for a tiny sleeping baby. However, you’ll want to be really carefully about their positioning and making sure their airway is not compressed. I could comfortably wear both babies for about 4 months. After that, I could continue to comfortably carry one baby (or uncomfortably carry both) for pretty much as long as they’d let me.

In my experience, ring slings didn’t feel as secure as structured carriers- especially when I was wearing two. They loosen up, and can sway a bit- I certainly wouldn’t be out jogging in them. But they are lightweight and easy to put on. Even if you don’t have help, you can just put both ring slings on- one on each side withOUT babies, then take a seat and carefully position your babies, one at a time. Then you are free to wash dishes, straighten up, eat a meal (maybe still standing up since babies LOVE that motion) with your hands-free! It’s a game-changer in those earlier days!

The best part about these ring slings is that they are affordable! After having twins, and watching every cost double, you’ll be stoked to see the price on these guys! Sure they ARE high-end ring slings, and I’m sure they are amazing, but we loved our budget buys! Plus, they were in perfect condition once we were ready to pass them along.

Double Strollers

When you have twins, a double stroller is DEFINITELY a requirement. But WHICH double stroller is a complicated issue. Here’s how I see it; car seat/stroller systems are sort of the master of all trades, master of none in the double stroller world. Generally, they are adequate for infants. But as your twins get older, they are less than. They are also not great on trails, or for travel. One important exception is the Baby Jogger City Select, which is a legit do-everything, AMAZING stroller with a price tag that matches. But if you don’t have the budget for the City Select, and are looking for a stroller that works as long as your kids need a stroller, we like the Graco Ready2Grow system.

However, for many of us, there really is not perfect stroller. The best stroller for an infant just ISN’T the best stroller for a toddler, so you are going to need more than one double stroller.

Difficult to see, but they are in their Joovy Twin Roo at the doctor’s office

The Joovy Twin Roo + frame is a perfect stroller for those who want to wait to buy their DREAM stroller. Or for those who want to buy exactly the stroller than want without worrying about clicking in a car seat for one (OR TWO, in this case) tiny infants. The Twin Roo+ is fairly inexpensive, small (for a double stroller) and use to use. It’s simple a frame to click your car seats into. It’s not fancy, but it gets you where you need to go while your twins are tiny. We LOVED It. Another plus- frame strollers like the Twin Roo are generally easy to find on the used market for an even LOWER price. I highly recommend a frame stroller for your twins.

As your twins get older, your double stroller needs change. But getting a wonderful double stroller that you absolutely love is always a great idea. If you are a family that loves getting out on trails, uneven pavenment, or anywhere a little less stroller friendly, the Bob Duallie is absolute heaven. They say ‘nothing pushes like a Bob’ and it’s absolutely true. It’s totally comfortable for parents and kids, flexible, and you’ll be able to use it forever, if you need to. Resale on it is amazing as well because these strollers are so popular, and for good reason.

Another stroller we LOVE for families who love to travel is the MacLaren Twin Triumph. It’s the lightest double stroller out there, and it has lots of great storage and features as well. It pops open in 2 seconds flat, and folds up quick and easy (and SMALL) as well. And it’s sturdy enough to survive gate checking it at the airport.

Logistics of Grocery shopping:

The first thing I really HAD to figure out how to manage with my twins was grocery shopping. After my husband went back to work and my mom flew back home, groceries, I still had to keep up with the grocery shopping. And I’ll admit- It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to manage the grocery store with two infants.

The cart…

So here it is: in my opinion, the best set up is to have one baby in his/her car seat at the bottom of the cart and one baby riding in the Ergobaby, or another baby carrier. Both of my twins loved riding in the baby carrier. So, I’d chose the less happy baby for the carrier. The happiest baby would generally be willing to ride in the car seat. I often loosened the car seat straps and gave him a little toy. Plus, the being in the cart meant WAY more sights to take in for entertainment.

Having a car seat in the cart definitely makes grocery shopping when you need a LOT of things more difficult. There were certainly times when I started piling up groceries on top of my infant. BUT it’s definitely easier to have a car seat IN the shopping car than trying to haul a stroller through the grocery store along WITH a cart.

The sights and sounds!

You’ll also want to keep in mind- for a tiny infant, a grocery shopping adventure is a HUGE stimulating activity. They are going to come home pretty tired and perhaps a little bit overstimulated and overwhelmed. You’ll definitely want to plan to have some quiet time after grocery shopping with your very small twins.

Truly the easiest time to get out with your twins, even if you are as HUGE as I was 🤣

Doctors Appointments, or Anywhere Stroller Friendly

So once you’ve picked out your twin stroller, it’s time to start using it! Even if you were a babywearing maniac with previous singleton babies, you are probably going to end up relying on your stroller a lot more than you expect. So pull that thing out, practice opening it and closing it because once it’s time, you’ll want to move FAST.

I started using out frame stroller on probably day THREE after my twins were born for their first doctor’s appointment. The frame strollers are super convenient and allow you to AVOID carrying two car seats. The little snap-in mechanism is quick and secure, so your babies will be safe and comfortable. And you can get in and out of the car RELATIVELY quickly. I loved that I could sit down and have access to them to comfort or adjust them as needed.

Going out to Dinner:

Taking babies out to a restaurant is SURPRISING easier than going with toddlers or preschoolers (maybe even older kids?). If you have infant twins, go out to dinner right away! You’ll regret it if you don’t do it when they are little.

So give it a try. Pack your babies in their car seats with pacifiers, and bottles, and one or two toys. Choose a restaurant that has a bit of elbow room. You’ll want to have plenty of space for a stroller, or just space for car seats nearby on the floor or in a chair. I’d also recommend one with at least a LITTLE bit of background noise. You’ll be able to relax if your baby isn’t the only one in a restaurant making noise.

Napping while out to dinner

For an infant, everything is a huge sensory activity, so going to a restaurant is enough to entertain them without a whole lot from you. For my babies, I could often rock their car seats and get them to go to sleep. Or just hang out with us and take in the views. Because infants sleep so much, and often go to sleep so early, we had tons of luck with just taking them early evening and letting them sleep the entire time. You’ll get to know your babies’ routine, but bringing a sleeping infant is basically a date night- ha! Once or twice, one or both kids weren’t happy in the car seat and needed to get out. The structured carriers were great to get them out but still leave your hands free to eat.

When you are deep in the twin infant phase, constantly covered in baby puke/poop/milk, and getting hardly any time just for your self, it is such a luxury to get to go out and eat a nice meal and eating it while it’s still warm. Even if you wind up wearing a baby while doing it, it’s still a totally refreshing and not-as-hard-as-you-expect experience.

Bigger Outings:

Perhaps we were a little bit crazy, but once my twins were two months old, we started doing longer, sometimes all-day outings. At 4 months, we began traveling overnight, and out of state.

Young infants typically can nap anywhere and are able to fall asleep whenever they get tired enough. As they get a bit older, that changes and napping can become a LOT more difficult. So getting out when they are young is major win for a lot of reasons. Sometimes nap schedule will get a bit off when you are out all day. But, if you can relax and let it go, your babies will totally adjust and get the rest they need.

Heading out on overnights with your twin babies is a whole other topic, and you can read more about it here.

Breastfeeding on the go

At some point, you’ll feel ready to breastfeed away from home. And trust me- you totally can, even for twins!

When it comes figuring out how to feed babies for a day out, I made every mistake a twin mom can. I tried all kinds of ways- I even packed pumped breast milk with a cooler and bottles PLUS a breast pump since I wasn’t nursing. It was a totally disaster- a ton of gear to worry about and it definitely did not make things more convenient.

Don’t do this! Bringing too much gear is just a headache.

But eventually, I figured it out; the absolute easiest way to nurse them was to nurse in the structured carrier, one at a time. You’ll want to get started a couple of minutes before you expect them to be hungry since you can’t nurse them at the same time. You’d hate for one baby to be screaming with hunger before you’ve finished nursing the other baby.

Breastfeeding an infant in an Ergo, or another structured carrier, is a little bit tricky at first. It took me a few tries to really get the hang of it. I’d recommend watching this helpful video. Then you’ll want to give it a try at home, or somewhere you won’t be rushed or distracted. You’ll need to really loosen the straps and drop baby down low and it definitely feels a bit odd at first.

Babywearing is awesome for newborns and infants

Also, if you are shy about nursing in public, you’ll want to bring a cover the first time you try it. It’s totally possible to stay covered while nursing in an ErgoBaby, but it takes a little bit of practice. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll just need a couple of minutes to change babies then you are good to keep moving. It’s a GAME CHANGER

Tummy time away from home

Another big learning was that, when you are not at home, it’s really difficult to find a place where you’ll feel comfortable letting your babies get out of their carrier/car seat/stroller and just wiggle around. And for my babies, not getting that free movement time meant cranky babies. Babies just need that time to just move freely, at least every few hours.

So plan ahead. You’ll definitely want to pack a blanket or two, and make sure you have an idea where you can take a break. If the weather is ok, parks are a great option. If not, perhaps look for a mall or another indoor public area where you can spread out and make your babies a spot to relax.

For my twins, skipping that free movement time was a recipe for disaster. They’d remain cranky and very upset until they got an opportunity to move freely. Another mom failure – I did not plan to let them get out and move around, and couldn’t find anywhere where I feel I could allow them to move, and instead had to drive 2 hours home to the sound of two increasingly upset babies. Don’t do that- it’s not fun!

Looking at trees at the park

Ready to give it a try?

With a little bit of practice, a lot of guts, and a few amazing tricks up your sleeve, you can totally get out of the house with your twins. It can feel completely overwhelming in the beginning. But come on- twin parents are amazing! Plus, you will never regret taking a little adventure with your kiddos. And, once you’ve figured out the day trips, and are ready for more, check out our posts on travel and flying with infant twins.

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No one will deny that taking a flight with a toddler is tough.  When you have two of them, it can seem brutal. In our experience, those early toddler days were the toughest BY FAR.  I was curious, so I did a little survey, below, and it seems that we were NOT ALONE in this experience.  

Don’t get me wrong, actually traveling with toddlers can be pretty amazing.  Toddlers are amazing creatures, and excellent travel companions because everything is so new to them. No one can get excited about seeing a pineapple plant or a pile of rocks, or riding on a bus like a toddler can. Plus the toddler years are an excellent time for them to be traveling.  Their brains are developing unbelievably fast in the toddler years. Travel during that period gives them a huge opportunity to learn flexibility, tolerance, and an appreciation for culture and cultural differences. 

Most difficult age for travel

But the actually GETTING THERE part? It’s rough.  For us, peak flight difficulty was right at 18 months, and flying with two 18-month-old toddlers was a true test of patience for me.  They are strong and never stop trying for what they want. Isn’t it funny how seemingly good qualities, like perseverance and a passion for what they want, can feel so impossible to handle when your twins are embodying it? My boys were literally climbing the seats, and pulling away from me as hard as they could at that age.  We have learned some great tips and tricks to ease the process a bit, but flying with twin toddlers is no vacation (ba dum tss). 

1. Travel Light (ish)

Travel light (ish):  Of course this tip is on every travel tip list ever in the history of the world, but it’s really easy to get carried away when traveling with twin toddlers. And trust me, I have not figured out how to vacation with twin toddlers with just a 30L backpack or anything even CLOSE to that.  If you figure that out, PLEASE tell me your secrets! Twin toddlers need a lot of stuff! But bring it all and you’ll be hating yourself as you sweat through the airport with half your house and two rowdy toddlers. Bring as little as you can to make the trip a little less insane. 

  • Most hotels, and many vacation rentals have pack ’n plays.  Call ahead and you can often secure a second pack ’n play.
  • Another travel-friendly sleep option is making sure there is an extra bed for your kiddos, then use inflatable bumpers- we love these ones. They work great, fold up super small for travel, and are quick and easy to inflate
  • Buy diapers at your destination whenever possible.  We use cloth diapers at home, but for us, it’s just not worth packing cloth diapers, dealing with the laundry situation, etc.  Sometimes we pack overnight diapers because we have a good system to prevent leaks, but foer the most part, we can get by with any old diaper for the short term
  • Don’t go nuts on toys and books for your trip. You’ll likely be too busy to enjoy those toys anyway.  
  • For more packing tips and tips for once you reach your destination tips, click here.
travel with twins
We clearly don't pack light! We try to keep it from getting TOTALLY out of control.

2. Avoid Early Flights

If you can, avoid getting your toddler up super early for a flight.  Many kids won’t be able to fall back asleep, and they may not be able to nap well either, so you’ll end up with cranky, overtired toddlers.  When there are two of them, it’s just too much to handle for me.  Instead, choose slightly later flights, even if that means keeping them out past bedtime.  In my experience, kids can better handle staying out later than they can handle getting up super early.  Or, maybe they’ll just fall asleep somewhere randomly.  Either way, you’ll be better off taking a slightly later flight.  

3. Free Your Hands

Check everything you can.  We check both car seats and all luggage, except for our stroller, and 2 small backpacks full of activities for the kids.  Choose backpacks that are comfortable and not oversized (because it’s VERY easy to fill the space, if you have it, so limit yourself).  Toddlers can be so wild and when you have two of them, it’s going to be a little bit crazy. So if you lighten your load, and you’ll end up happier plus you’ll be able to give your kids more freedom at the airport.

4. Bring your Stroller

Bringing a stroller is a huge question for us every single time.  But when you have twins, we err on the side of bringing it. There can be a LOT of walking at the airport, and mixed with the crowds, it gets pretty overwhelming for little guys.  Plus, travel days might mean naps at unexpected times. Even if you feel confident your twins can manage the walk, flight delays or gate switches might change that, and you’ll end up carrying them both miles through the airport, giving you a serious backache.

Another thing to consider is that you often spend a lot of time near busy roads or parking lots on travel days.  For my kids, at the end of a long travel day, focus is low and I end up with a death grip on hands to keep them from running out into traffic. No one likes that, so I prefer keeping them safety buckled in the stroller for those tough times.

Toddler nap at the airport
You definitely don't want this to happen with no stroller!

5. Burn off Energy at the Airport

 You’ll have to get to the airport early no matter what, so use that time to your advantage.  Since we usually have our kids in the stroller for longer/boring walks in the airport, we make sure we find a good, somewhat quiet corner of the airport where they can run free a little bit.  We often make a racetrack on the carpet using small cars, or make a little game with patterns in the floor to get them jumping and moving. I make sure they walk to and from the bathroom for their last diaper change, and try to keep them as active as I possibly can for those last few minutes.  

There is lots to see and do at the airport. We stay busy and burn off as much energy as we can.

6. Purchase nice car seat and stroller bags

Since you’ll be checking your car seats, and you’ll have to gate check your stroller for basically any domestic flight, and many international (since double strollers are SO huge), make sure you have a good bag that will provide some padding and protection from drops, rips, and tears. 

When it comes to double strollers, it’s hard to find a decent lightweight one, so our travel stroller is a bit pricier and we’d hate to see it destroyed, so we make sure it’s protected. I know lots of people have strong opinions on checking car seats, but checking is what works best for our family.  We use a cheaper, lightweight set, and put them in a nicely padded, quality car seat bag – we love this one, and we have always gotten away stuffing our kids favorite blanket, toddler pillow, and a lovey for a little extra padding (and saving some precious suitcase space).  

7. Make sure you tickets allow seat selection

Seems like a no brainer, but as airlines change their policies and rates, it can be confusing.  Some airlines now offer a cheaper ticket class that doesn’t allow seat selection, and your assignment is given after check in, even for small children.  I don’t have any idea how it is possible for a toddler or young child to not sit with their parent or caregiver.  But to me, it’s really not worth the hassle and the risk.  Get seat assignments. For parents of twins, seating is important, so you’ll want to be able to figure things out ahead of time. 

8. Choose window seats, or 3 seats in a row

When traveling with twins under the age of two, you won’t HAVE to buy a seat for each child. But you can only have one lap baby per row, because of availability of air masks.  We loved purchasing 3 seats for the 4 of us (my husband, myself and our twins). For most planes, that’ll give you the whole section of seats, so no one else is sitting RIGHT next to you, and allows you to easily pass your twins between you.  

However, as your twins approach toddlerhood, I’d recommend buying them each their own seat.  Even at 18 months old, toddlers are big to be sitting on your lap in a tiny airplane seat, and they are STRONG, so holding them in place is going to be hard work the entire flight. Giving them their own space helps everyone feel more comfortable and relaxed.  

window seat is best
Window seats are the best- looking out the windows gives toddlers a few minutes of distraction

If you purchase a seat for each of them, and assuming you are traveling with a second adult, I recommend getting window and middle seats, one set right in front of the other.  The window seat is coveted for my kids, and a young toddler simply cannot understand why they can’t climb into the lap of whoever is sitting there to play with the window shade. That could get awkward pretty fast.  Just make sure you have the window seat. Sure you’ll have to ask the person next to you, in the aisle seat, to move a few times to allow you to get up, but overall, window-center seat combo is the easiest.  

If traveling alone with twins, choose flights on planes with a 3 seat per side/row if at all possible, then buy each child a seat.  It’s a lot to handle, but bring your patience, and you can do it!

9. Bring one backpack of fun/supplies per child

 Assuming you are traveling with your twins, it’s easier for each adult to handle all of the needs of one child.  You can switch as needed, but make sure each adult has everything needed to care for one child, including extra clothes, diapers, toys, snacks, etc.  That way, you won’t be constantly interrupting the other caregiver to ask for something, frustrating the twin with that caregiver.  

Bring plenty of extra diapers and wipes in a small diaper pod with a changing pad and a handle so you can hang it on the bathroom door.  You’ll want to ONLY take what you need to the bathroom for diaper changes since airplane changing stations are certainly NOT toddler sized.  

With toddlers, blowouts are less likely so complete outfit changes are a bit more rare.  But come prepared for water or food spills, sticky messes, etc., and don’t forget about weather differences between your area of departure and destination.  Since we live in the Pacific NW, we are usually going from cooler weather to warmer, and so I like to dress them in a tee with a long sleeve over the top, and some comfy pants, and either wear or pack socks for the flight.  Then I pack shorts I can change them into at the end of the flight and take off the long sleeve shirt and socks. Getting them changed before they get cranky about the heat really helps keep stress levels low for everyone.  

10. Bring snacks, snacks, and more snacks, including some that can function as a meal

For a toddler, snacking is a great distraction tool!  Heck- honestly, its a great distraction tool for me too! Bring snacks that are fun, some that are healthy, and some that are kind of emergency distraction tools- we like to use mini M&Ms given one at a time, or lollipops for near meltdown moments because they last a little while, and are SUPER exciting.  Fruit snacks or fruit leather are great as well.

Most toddlers struggle to eat a good meal even on the best days.  On travel days, it’s next to impossible. Plus, a good meal isn’t always available.  No one wants a couple of toddlers in meltdown mode because they are starving and there is nothing available to fill their tummies.  So include snacks that have protein and any other nutrients you can squeeze in there, and are filling enough to work as a meal.

11. Bring toys that allow wiggly fingers, but not wiggly entire bodies

Toddlers are so active, so they need something that will at least allow thing to wiggle their little fingers.  Look for toys that take some concentration and last more than a couple of minutes, and that don’t require their entire body to move as a part of play.  A good rule of thumb is one new (or not recently played with) toy per hour of flight time. Honestly, that’s not enough.  But you can’t bring everything, so that is our reasonable compromise.   Here are a few of our favorite travel toys:

squigz on the plane
Squigz are a great travel toy! They don't stick to the tray super well, but they do stick to windows, tablets, etc.
  • Squigz:  They stick to any flat surface, and to themselves, and are tons of fun for all ages.

  • Little wind-up toys:  They are small, fairly cheap, and actually provide quite a few minutes of giggles
  • Finger puppets:  They are small and versatile, and toddlers love them!

  •  Board books with slide open or flip open features, like What’s in My Truck or Dear Zoo.  They allow kids to be involved, and they are open ended enough you extend the stories so that they provide more than 2 minutes of entertainment

  • Small cars or monster trucks to play with at the airport, or on the tray table.  We like Hot Wheels because they are not self propelled, so they won’t be flying quite as far in the plane.
 

  • Sticker books.  We love the National Geographic ones because they are inexpensive and have over 1000 stickers so they last FOREVER.

  • Wikki Stix but not too many.  These are super fun to stick together and build with, but if you bring a lot, they’ll just want to mash them together.

  • WaterWow books are reusable, mess free, and just require a little water. They are easy to use for little guys, and tons of fun.

  • Tablet loaded up with some toddlers games and shows.  We recommend iPads and we love
    • Daniel Tiger Explore app
    • Bugs and Buttons app
    • Sago Mini Farm, and really ALL Sago Mini games
    • Episodes of Wild Krats, Daniel Tiger, Octonauts, Little Baby Bum, and Dave and Ava.  
  • Our special map made specifically for the trip- read more about these homemade, toddler-friendly maps, along with other toddler travel tips here.   
toddlers on planes
We don't limit screen time on flights. Tablets are a huge travel tool for us. Bran is playing Bugs and buttons here.

12. Get enough sleep the night before, and grab a coffee!

It’s no secret- flying with twin toddlers is hard work.  So prioritize getting enough sleep. Don’t choose an insanely early or late flight, if you can avoid it, and show up ready to work.  My twins VERY RARELY sleep on airplanes. So they end up bored, a little bit tired, and wanting ALL MY ATTENTION. I love my kids more than anything in the world, but 3, 6, 8 hours of 100% attention is exhausting! And sometimes, they just can’t- their focus is completely gone and they start acting out.  So I need to have enough patience to handle whatever they throw at me (perhaps literally) because if I lose it, it’ll only make everything worse.  

Tons of toddlers who are not mine sleep GREAT on airplanes.  They take extra naps, and sleep from the moment the plane takes off until after it lands.  Probably that will be you. But, my take is that it’s better to be prepared for the worse- cranky toddlers who will not nap, and then be pleasantly surprised if things are easier.  

SOMETIMES my kids sleep, but its very very very rare. Proof that it happened at least once, and it was AWESOME!

13. Don't worry about judgement

When traveling with toddlers, especially toddler twins, there are bound to be a few people out there that give you the look.  You know the one- where they are clearly annoyed that you exist and somehow thing you are entitled to purchase 4 (or 3 or 2) tickets on the same flight as them with your children.  Don’t even worry about them.  Seriously.  Don’t give it one moment’s thought.  I bet you are a good parent, and I bet you’ll do your best to care for your children during the flight, and there is nothing more anyone could ask of you. 

Also, we travel quite a bit, and MOST people we encounter are kind and understanding.  If you are stressing before you even leave, don’t.  I’m a pretty good worrier, but after having so many positive interactions with people telling us we are doing a great job, or noticing how hard we work during the flight, I feel pretty confident while traveling.  And you should too! You’ve got it.  

14. Skip the line at car rental agencies

Car rental lines are often obscenely long and slow.  When you have two burnt-out toddlers, its a recipe for disaster.  Use Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold or Budget Fastbreak to skip the counter and go directly to your car (often your name is on the board with slot number).  If you are using a shuttle, have it set up ahead of time. Do whatever you can to get et out of the airport as fast as you can. After a day of traveling, your twins are going to be just done.  Hurry the process of exiting the process along so you can hopefully delay any meltdowns.

These kids are ready to go HOME!

15. Take a break as soon as you can

If you have to drive more than a few minutes before you reach your ultimate destination, give you twins a little break.  Maybe you can stop by a park. Maybe you can find somewhere safe to run crazy in the airport. But find a way to give them a 30 minute or so break before you ask them to keep holding still and being patient.  It’s a lot to ask of them and make sure you don’t forget how hard it is for them.  

Flying with twin toddlers is not easy.  But it’s not impossible either.  With a bit of preparation, and a lot of patience, you’ll be just fine.  Perhaps you’ll even enjoy all this mandatory play time with your twins.  And if it sucks, it’s only a few hours- or quite a few hours.  Whatever it is, its a limited amount of time, and then you’ll be whereever your going, and it’ll be great!  

Let us know- what works for you? What doesn’t? 

Updated 10/13/19

In our area, there is a major shortage of childcare options so waitlists are extremely long, and prices are extremely high. Like many twin parents, started looking at the options and discovered that a nanny cost about the amount as two in daycare. Plus, having a nanny gives the additional benefits of allowing your brand new babies to stay at home where they will get more one on one time, and be exposed to fewer illnesses. And, of course, you won’t have to rush out the door every morning with two babies and the mountain of supplies they need for the day.   

Hiring Our First Nanny for our Twins

Unfortunately, I had to go back to work when my babies were only 12 weeks old. So my husband and I went on the hunt for a nanny to care for our children. After watching the horrible video the hospital made us watch about purple crying and shaken baby syndrome and seeing one too many horrible news stories, we were extremely nervous about making a hire. However, we were definitely not experts on childcare or hiring someone for childcare. We had NO idea what we were doing!

Our awesome nanny, Sara

However, despite our inexperience, we managed to hit the jackpot with our first nanny, Sara. Don’t get me wrong, we had our battles. I know she felt frustrated at us for not always being clear on expectations, and we didn’t agree with the way she handled every single thing.  But our kids adored her, and she adored them. She sent me tons of pictures at work, and always told us everything about their days. She brought up anything they, or she was struggling with and we worked through everything together as a team. She spent the time to get to know us, and gave us a chance to get to know her. She was our family’s nanny for 18 months and really became a part of the family in that time, and she still is today!

Round Two

Sara eventually had a baby of her own and decided not to stay with us as our nanny after giving birth.  As we started thinking about how to replace her, we felt much more qualified to hire a nanny than we were the first time.  We thought about what type of parenting style we’d want a future nanny to embody, and what other qualities we like to have in a nanny.  We felt confident. 

Sara and the boys on her last day 🙁

The first nanny we hired no-showed us before she even started.  Our next three nannies lasted only a couple of months each, and the final straw – our last nanny was downright bad and we had to let her go because we were worried about our kids’ safety.  We were completely stressed out, unable to focus on our work, and we could see that our boys were not thriving because of the lack of consistency in their lives. We knew that something had to change. Even though we were ‘improving’ our process every time, we just couldn’t find what we were looking for.

I asked everyone I knew for advice. I did some major soul searching- and then some more soul searching. Making hiring decisions is always tough. And for a nanny, it’s even tougher. The person you chose will play a huge role in shaping the lives of your children, and so, of course, you will want this person to be PERFECT in every way, but NO ONE is perfect. But, after all my disappointments, frustrations, and just endless troubleshooting, I think I’ve finally figured it out- the trick to hiring a nanny that is not perfect but is perfect for your family.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Define your Job

Not all nannies and not all nanny jobs are the same, and it’s SUPER important to keep that in mind when defining your job and talking to applicants. Some parents will not allow their nanny to take children outside of the home, while others prefer that the nanny take kids out every day. Some parents are ok with unlimited screen time, others are completely screen-free. Some expect a nanny to simply supervise play, and some expect her/him to be actively playing with children all day. So, you’ll need to carefully and thoughtfully define exactly what you are looking for, for yourself and your future nanny. Some other questions to consider as you go through this process might be:

  1. Do you want to get frequent text messages and know everything about your children’s day? Or do you prefer not to be distracted while you are at work?
  2. Do you want your nanny to bring suggestions and advice on how to handle parenting struggles that come up? Or do you prefer to give directives and make decisions without your nanny’s help?
  3. Will you have meals, weekly schedule, and activities planned for your nanny and your children, or would you prefer to have your nanny handle finding and creating fun activities on her own?
  4. Are you expecting your nanny to take on any additional tasks, beyond watching your children, during their work hours? It is responsible to ask a nanny to help with cleaning up play areas, washing dishes created during the day, and helping with the kids’ laundry- but you’ll want to make this clear from the beginning.

I think most of us will agree that the top priority is finding someone who genuinely enjoys spending time with your children. You’ll want to think through any other qualities you’d want for your ideal nanny. Do you want someone fun and silly? Someone calming? Creative? Strict? Gentle? When you are parenting an infant, it’s hard to imagine all these parts of parenting, but before you know it your tiny infant will be running around the house FULL of personality, so you’ll want to at least attempt to anticipate what you’ll want for your child is they become a toddler and even a preschooler.

Adventures with our nanny

2. Set Expectations

I’ve had a hard tell telling my nanny my expectations, and an even harder time correcting something when I haven’t made my expectations clear. I feel like I’m being too demanding, and I always want to give my nanny the flexibility to relax a little bit on the rules if the day is particularly hard- I know that some days are just plain hard and I don’t want her getting frustrated and potentially losing her temper with my kids. However, if you are not able to set expectations, both you and your nanny will wind up frustrated.

For me, the best way to set expectations is to write them down. I created a bullet point list of expectations that I give to potential nannies before hiring so that we are all on the same page. I include Everything–parenting style with books we like, screen-time rules for nanny and children, communication expectations, what to do about any specific behaviors and what to do as new behavioral concerns come up, vacation and holiday policy and pay, etc. Having everything spelled out was great because it sets the nanny up for success.

Sitting in a Firetruck. More fun with the nanny

3. Interview Carefully

Choosing the right nanny for your family is a huge undertaking that can feel so overwhelming. But after TOO many rounds of interviews, we’ve found a system that works well.

  1. Post your job anywhere and everywhere you can, and let friends and family know you are looking. You never know where you’ll find your perfect nanny.
  2. Start with a quick phone call. We had TONS of applicants who weren’t actually available the hours we needed or weren’t willing to come to my house to watch the kids or something. With a quick phone call, I was able to work these things out without wasting too much time.
  3. Come up with great questions to ask during interviews. I felt situational questions like “What would you do if both kids had a toddler tantrum in a park” were very telling. Also, questions that give the applicant an opportunity to show their passion (or lack of) for the work, such as “what do you love most about being a nanny”. While you are interviewing, make sure you let your applicants open up so you can get to know them.
  4. Once you think you’ve found your nanny, run a quick background check.  Probably nothing will come up, but it’s nice to have that peace of mind. 
  5. BONUS STEP if this is something you are able to do: Have a previous, trusted nanny, or a friend or family member come do a test or training day/extra interview. In my experience, applicants were more willing to be honest with my previous nanny during this training day, than they were with me. For example, one applicant was afraid of my dogs, and although caring for the dogs was to be part of the job, she didn’t mention the fear and general dislike for dogs to me, but she did tell my previous nanny.

4. Bond with your Nanny

I think my biggest AHA moment has been realizing that people are motivated by relationships. This is true for all jobs, but when it comes to being a nanny, this job is SO much more emotional and requires so much more heart and care than most jobs, so a great nanny family and nanny will become like family. And think about it, if you are lucky enough to have a grandparent or a good friend that is able to watch your kids, there is a pretty good chance that person is highly invested in the long term wellbeing of your child, right? Why not create that relationship with your nanny as well? You’ve chosen your nanny because s/he has some great qualities or values that match your own, so likely you’ll be able to form a friendship with this person. Why not take the time to really get to know this person?

Being close with your nanny is a huge benefit for so many reasons. First, both you and your nanny will likely be so much happier working together as friends and able to enjoy each others company since you’ll likely be spending some time together. Second, it’s so much easier to talk to someone when you are friends. And there is SOOO much to discuss when it comes to raising young children. It’s nice to know what each other will do in a given situation, know each other’s philosophy on childcare, even if you don’t 100% agree, and to be able to have open, honest conversations about everything, but especially about your children. And honestly, over time, if you find a nanny that loves and cares for your children, you will likely wind up loving your nanny as a person.

So take your nanny out for coffee one day, or just take some time to chat in the morning before you leave for work, or in the evening. You won’t regret this the time you spend really getting to know this person that is SO important to your children.

More outings with our awesome nanny- preschool gym time.

5. Having a Great Nanny takes work!

Kids and their parents are constantly changing and growing, so ensuring that your nanny continues to be a great match for your family means you need to keep talking. As brand new parents, we really didn’t know who we were yet. We didn’t identify as any particular parenting style, and we didn’t have a lot of confidence in our abilities as parents. As time passes, we’ve learned a LOT. We’ve found our style and a bit of confidence that we might have some clue what we’re doing sometimes. And with a nanny, that means a lot of shifting roles, and a lot of discussions about decisions we’ve made, or new opinions we have. These discussions can be difficult but in the end, both the parent and the nanny are happier.

Another important thing we’ve learned is that we needed to let go of the reins a bit! Our instinct has always been to take the lead on anything related to the kids- come up with project ideas, meal ideas, sign up for activities and classes (if our nanny is open to taking the kids), etc. However, I recently realized that not only am I doing more work than I need to, I’m also taking away an opportunity for my nanny to feel valued and have a bit more job satisfaction. So I’ve learned its important to give your nanny projects. Give her/him responsibility for something, like potty training, or setting up a craft station for your kiddos. In the case of potty training, you can approval for methodology, or work together on it, but let her/him take the lead. For the craft station, let her think through which types of crafts your kids are capable of, and come up with a list of necessary supplies, within your budget. Nannies are often professionals who want to learn and grow, and these extra projects will give a great nanny a sense of accomplishment and show her/him that you trust her/him.

Having a nanny has many unexpected benefits, and hardships. We’ve learned a TON after having 6 nannies in just over 3 years, and I sincerely hope some of our tips can help you find the perfect person for your family, and put in the work together to keep that person perfect for the long run.

10 Tips Once You Reach Your Destination!

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Toddlers.  They are old enough to for lots of opinions, interests, and SO many words (most of them hilarious), but still so little in so many ways.  They are still 100% dependant on parents, and just don’t have the patience to handle tough situations. And when you have twin toddlers, the stakes are just that much higher- try moving two toddlers mid- tantrum! 

Traveling with toddlers is such a great experience because of their ENDLESS enthusiasm and curiosity, but sometimes the logistics can get tricky.  Yes toddlers are resilient, but sometimes it takes a bit of work to get them to their ideal condition.  

Once you’ve planned your perfect trip, and survived your flight, road trip, or whatever, there are still a number of tricky situations when it comes to staying in a hotel, vacation rental, or even at a friend or relatives house with your twin toddlers.  These are our top tips to make the trip just a little bit easier.  

1. Make your kids a map

We like to make a special map for our twins for each trip.  It doesn’t have to be really accurate as a map, just give the basic flow of where we are going next.  For toddlers, it’s basically a visualization of the schedule. They love to follow along and talk about what’s coming next.  It’s a fun way to explain to your young child what’s coming next and get them excited ahead of time. We like to give them to our kids a week or so ahead of time so they understand what’s coming and start to get excited about little things we will be doing. 

Checking out the map a few days before a trip. They were VERY excited about the ATV ride!

2. Use kid’s air mattresses

Sleeping arrangements when you have TWO toddlers can be a bit tricky.  For toddlers, pack ‘n plays are getting to be a bit small (at least for my big boys), and can be hard to come by at times anyway.  Cosleeping is an option, but not a favorite for my family. Two kicking, wiggling, fighting-even-in-their-sleep toddlers in between my husband and me isn’t my idea of a vacation.  We’ve not been able to let them sleep in a bed alone because they sleep like maniacs and will CERTAINLY fall off the bed at least once. Though, sleeping in a regular bed with inflatable bumpers is a possibility.

Our option of choice is these fantastic kid’s air mattresses.  They are kid-sized so they don’t take up a lot of space in the suitcase, sturdy, and inexpensive.  They come in fun colors, and, even though we usually put a blanket or sheet over them, they have a nice soft finish, so a sheet is not absolutely necessary.  It gives them their own comfortable sleeping space, and they are close to the ground, so falling off is not a big deal.  

3. Pack carefully. 

Packing with twin toddlers means not really packing light.  But if you aren’t careful, you’ll end up packing 19 suitcases, and you won’t even be able to fit through the door at your hotel.  So really think through what you are bringing and if it’s necessary. 

Packing as light as we can with twin toddlers
Packing VERY carefully does make a difference, even if it still feels like you are bringing a ton

Packing tips:

  • If laundry facilities are available (and FAIRLY convenient), bring only about 3 days of clothing for everyone.  It seems drastic but if you wear neutral colors, and comfortable clothing and no one else will notice, and you’ll look great, and feel great not lugging around a ton of extra stuff.  Most toddlers probably prefer to wear their top 3 favorite outfits over and over forever.  
  • Pack layers.  Outer layers can easily be reused, and layers give more flexibility for temperature variation.
  • Use hotel toiletries for yourself (at least for shampoo, conditioner and soap) if you can, but bring toiletries for your twins.  Toddlers can have pretty sensitive skin, and baby products are not typically provided, so it’s probably worth the space to bring something you know won’t give them a rash. 
  • Use packing cubes to keep yourself organized and make it clear which stuff is whose
  • Buy diapers and other bulky items when you get there.  If you are flying, you’re probably paying $100 round trip per suitcase.  So if you are filling a suitcase with a low-cost item, like diapers, puddle-jumper life jackets, snacks, etc., don’t! If its something you CAN get at purchase at your destination, do that! It’s not worth the hassle or the cost to pack it. 
  • Borrow anything you can at your destination.  If you are visiting friends or family, perhaps you can borrow one or both car seats, air mattress or pack ‘n play, or any other specific items you will need for your trip.  If you are going somewhere you frequently visit, but you aren’t able to borrow many items, it might make sense to purchase some of these items to leave there (if possible).  
  • Just bring one or two books and only a few toys.  You can usually make do with whatever you find at your destination. Even empty water bottles or straws can provide entertainment for your toddlers.  Mine were obsessed with plastic spoons (AKA mini shovels) for awhile. Plus, you’ll probably be busier than normal and won’t need a lot. You probably don’t want to skip toys altogether since you’ll need your twins to be engaged for at least a few minutes each day to shower and get things packed up before you get out the door. 
  • If you are checking car seats, stuff some of the bulky, soft items in the car seat bag.  We’ve always gotten away throwing a favorite blanket, a toddler pillow, and a lovey in each car seat bag.  For a while, we were even putting a pack ‘n play foam mattress in there without any problems. It saves precious suitcase space, and provides extra padding for your car seat.   I think technically, it’s against the rules to put anything put a car seat in the bag, but I don’t think anyone checks unless they have reason to be suspicious.  

4. Stay on ‘Home’ time when heading East, adjust to local time when heading West

This applies only when time changes are minor, 3-4 hours or less. When heading east, kids will want to ‘sleep in’, because of the time difference. We promote that as much as we can with blackout curtains. They will be tempted to wake up right when the sun comes up, if they see it. It’s also kind of nice to have a bit more time in the evening to go out and do things with them. Keeping them on ‘home’ time also means avoiding the 4 or 5 am wake up once we get home. We find that they do adjust back a little bit, despite our best efforts, but we can usually keep them close to ‘home’ schedule.

We were forcing them to stay up so they wouldn’t wake up at 4 am the next day. TIme changes are tough!

My kids are early risers no matter the time zone, but when heading west, they are waking up so early, it’s definitely not even morning. For example, on the first day of our first trip to Hawaii, we were up at 4 am, but nothing at our resort even opened until 7 am. Not only does it kind of suck to get up when the clock says 4 am, it’s also just tough to manage. They’ll be wanting to eat dinner in mid-afternoon, and go to bed by 5 pm. Adjusting them just makes sense in that case.  Plus, you might get a couple of days of them sleeping in once you get home.

5. Think about skipping naps

Obviously for toddlers who reliably nap twice a day, or for 3 hours every day, maybe this isn’t an option.  But if your twins ever have trouble falling asleep at night, or struggle to fall asleep at nap time, vacationing is a great opportunity to just skip the nap, at least sometimes.  It’s even harder to fall asleep when you are in an unfamiliar place, so naps just might not happen even if you try (and try and try and try). And if they DO nap, bedtime might just be a nightmare- an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar sounds, and two toddlers who are NOT exhausted.  Not a recipe for a quick bedtime.  

Sometimes a nap IS required

If you can skip naps, your twins will be more able to power through when there are lots of fun things to do (as there probably are while on vacation).  In fact, they might not even notice they are tired until close to bedtime. You definitely have to have a solid bedtime plan, and start it early (cause once they realize how tired they are, they are going to be immediately ready to sleep). But once you start the bedtime routine, it’ll be SO easy to get them to sleep.  

This works so great for us because my kids were always terrible nappers. They are definitely tired by the end of the day, and sometimes a little cranky in the afternoon. But overall, we are all a lot happier when they ski be o I put them to bed a bit early (and they fall asleep almost instantly), and they often sleep in a bit late, and it’s AWESOME and amazing.

6. Keep Your Schedule Flexible

Toddlers are growing physically and mentally so much, so you never really know who you are going to get each morning when they wake up.  Make sure your schedule allows a slower day, if you twins wake up just tired or cranky or whatever. Or maybe they’ll wake up with more energy than expected so you need to find an outlet for them.  Whatever the reason, you’ll need to have a few options for each day and the state of mind to change your plan if the plan just isn’t going to work for your twins that day.  

Playing on the beach in Idaho- such a hit for them!

7. Stock your room with snacks and water (or other drinks)

Between being too excited to really eat during the day plus having their biological schedule a little bit messed up due to the time change, your twins may end up feeling hungry at odd hours.  When you are at the mercy of hotel restaurants, it’s smart to keep something around just in case. Also, the food on vacation may be a little bit different than at home, so having familiar snacks may help. Plus, you can save a LOT of money by skipping restaurants for snacks, and even for quick breakfasts sometimes.  And on a related note…

8. Pick a room with a mini-fridge

Not the pre-stocked kind either.  The kind you can actually use. You’ll want it for snacks, quick breakfasts, and milk.  If your toddlers are like mine, then milk is a necessity and you’ll need a lot of it. When you are buying for two milk-drinking toddlers, you aren’t going to want to just pick up the single-serving milk every time. That’ll get expensive fast! It’s easy to forget you are going to need a way to keep the milk, and other perishables, cold.

9. Keep some familiarity

Stick to your bedtime routine as much as possible.  Bring a few familiar snacks (anyone else have toddlers OBSESSED with Z bars?), your twins’ favorite lovey, and their favorite bedtime story.  Just a few familiar things will make your twins feel more at home.  

10. Take tons of pictures

Southern Utah. I love this picture and I’m so glad we captured this moment!

Ok this is kind of a given.  But take even more pictures than you thought you’d want. And label them! Even when you think you can tell your twins apart, you might just forget when you are looking back at old pictures. I don’t even want to say how many old pictures I have where I’m not 100% sure who is who.  

Toddlers are finally old enough that they can look back on vacation pictures and reminisce about all the fun things you’ve done together.  You’ll be surprised how far back they can remember. My twins clearly remember trips a year ago, and we love looking through vacation pictures together.  

Overall..

Traveling with twin toddlers, just like LIVING with twin toddlers, isn’t for the faint of heart.  But twin parents are made of a special kind of magic, and somehow, we just get it done! These vacation memories are memories you, and your twins, will cherish forever! And hopefully these tips will make your trip just that much more perfect.  

Tell us what worked for your family! 

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