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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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Travelling with toddlers can be intimidating to say the least. No one wants to be the parent of the screaming child on the plane. And if you live with a toddler, you know that tantrums do happen, despite your best efforts. Flying with toddlers is no vacation (ba dum tss). But with these tips, you’ll be ready for whatever comes at you on your flight with a toddler!

And, if you are traveling with TWIN toddlers, we’ve got you covered. Click here to go to the section on twin-specific tips.

After struggling through travel with our toddlers, I was curious if we were the only ones for whom the early toddler phase was the TOUGHEST. So I did a little survey, and found that NOPE- it’s tough for everyone!

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, 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 their toddler years. Travel during that period gives them a huge opportunity to learn flexibility, tolerance, and an appreciation for culture and cultural differences.

But the actual 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.

At around 18 months of age, babies have officially moved on from little (mostly still) bundles of joy to noisy, walking little people with strong opinions and desires and absolutely NO impulse control.

1. Avoid Super Early Flights

There is no reason to make flying with toddlers any tougher than it needs to be. If you have to get your toddler up at 4 am to make the flight, they are likely not going to be able to fall back asleep. So you’ll have a child that is sleep deprived, and cranky for a day that wasn’t going to be super fun anyway.

Now maybe your toddler is a star-sleeper, and can nap anywhere, anytime. And that is wonderful BUT the airplane can be such a stimulating place that sleep can be tough for even the best sleepers.

Both of my toddlers were once awake at midnight on a flight (and we aren’t a late bedtime family, this was FIVE HOURS after their bedtime). The flight attendant laughed and told us EVERY toddler or baby on the flight was actually still awake. It’s not uncommon for little guys to have trouble sleeping on a plane.

Avoiding early flights might just mean your toddler does end up staying up way past his/her bedtime. But that means he’s only cranky for the last couple of hours, not the entire day. We find this works out better.

2. Make sure your 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. Most airlines say they will do their best to seat children with their parents, BUT we don’t think it’s worth the risk, the stress, and the hassle.

Avoid ‘basic economy’ and just stick with ‘main cabin’ economy, or better, so you can choose your seats in advance.

3. Buy your Toddler a Seat

Toddlers under the age of 2 can fly free on domestic flights, if you hold them as a lap baby. And while it is super tempting to save some money on their tickets while you can, we do not recommend it once your baby hits about a year old.

Those airplane seats are small, with almost no leg room as it is. Put a wiggly, bored toddler in your lap, and neither you or the toddler is going to be happy. Just putting the tray table down as a play surface is TIGHT, or even impossible, and reaching down to grab a toy from your backpack is painful.

Spring for the seat for your toddler. You definitely won’t regret it!

4. Give your Toddler the Window Seat

Speaking of seat selection, make sure you’ve got the window seat for your toddler. Your toddler may just LOVE looking out the window and talking through the process of taxiing, taking off, and then watching the cars and houses get smaller and smaller. The window seat can be a HUGE boredom buster for toddlers.

And, if you DON’T pick the window seat, and a stranger ends up there, your toddler might just decide that they need that seat anyway and attempt to climb into the lap of said stranger. No one wants that battle.

If you pick the window seat, and your family is not taking up the whole row, you may end up needing to ask a stranger to get up so you can get out more often than they’d like. But it’s better than having to battle a toddler who is SURE that window seat is his.

5. Bring your Stroller

As active toddlers start walking more, and maybe even showing a preference of walking over riding, it’s tempting to skip the stroller at the airport.

But there are a million reasons why you’ll definitely want it even for toddlers who love to walk. Here a a few examples:

  • Naps: Your toddler may end up falling asleep at some point (and it might not be on schedule), and you are not going to want to lug a sleeping child around while navigating the airport and collecting suitcases.
  • Speed: If you end up having a delayed flight and need to run to the next one, or just need to sprint across the airport for any reason, it is SO MUCH easier with your toddler strapped into a stroller than in your arms (or trying to run with you).
  • Distance: The airport can be a LOT of walking. Even if your child walks all the time at home, the airport can be MILES of walking and might exhaust your toddler.
  • Toddler mental overload: The sights, the smells, the sounds, the new faces at the airport can be a lot of mental stimulation for a young child. It can be really difficult to focus on the job at hand- making progress walking through the airport, and can become overwhelming to the point that your toddler will just sit down on the floor and refuse to move.
  • Airport transfers dangers: After a long day of travel, while leaving the airport, you might end up waiting on the curb for a bus, or crossing busy streets or parking lots while also dragging suitcases, car seats, etc. Having your child safely strapped into a stroller means your toddler can’t escape your grip and dart into traffic (because impulse control is sure to be LOW even for a toddler at the end of a travel day).

6. Check anything you can!

Pre-kids, I always traveled with a carry-on only. Pulling a suitcase or wearing a backpack was nothing compared to the hassle of going to baggage claim.

But when you are traveling with a toddler, everything is different.

First, you probably have WAY MORE stuff. A car seat, just a few favorite toys, diapers, clothing for the 15 wardrobe changes your toddler needs every day, etc. really adds up to a LOT of luggage. So avoiding baggage claim really isn’t going to be an option anymore.

Secondly, you are working MUCH harder when flying with a toddler compared to pre-kids. You will want your hands free to push the stroller, retrieve snacks and dropped toys, and generally be available to keep your toddler happy (and quiet) both at the airport and on the plane. Give yourself a break and ditch the luggage ASAP (at the counter) so you will have hands free ready for anything.

Toddlers need a lot of stuff!

7. Have a plan for carrying a car seat (IF you are taking it on the plane)

Bringing a car seat on the plane for your toddler can be a really great option for some families. Experts agree that a car seat is the safest place for your child on a plane. And for many kids, its a familiar and comfortable place to sit for the flight.

(Note that bringing your car seat on the plane is DEFINITELY optional, and lots of families opt to skip it).

But now that your toddler is out of the infant stage, the days of car seats easily snapping into a stroller are gone. Carrying a big convertible car seat can be tricky.

But you do have a few options:

  • You can buy a car seat travel cart, like this one for Britax models, or this one that works with many car seats. Your child can actually ride in the car seat, while you wheel it around, so it can replace your stroller. BUT these things are fairly cheaply made, and won’t compare to your stroller for ease of use.
  • If you don’t plan to have your child ride in the car seat, you can buy a cheap luggage cart, like this one, to wheel your car seat around the airport
  • If your car seat is lightweight, and you aren’t planning to have a backpack already, try one of these backpack carriers. I’ll warn you, even lightweight car seats are NOT a ton of fun to carry.

8. Protect Your Gear

When traveling with a toddler, you end up with a LOT of precious gear. And there is no heartbreak like the heartbreak when you find your favorite stroller torn, smashed, or damaged right before your dream Disney vacation. So keep it protected with protective gear.

Strollers

We love to use our stroller at the airport, but you will almost always need to gate check it. And once it’s checked, you can count on it getting tossed around by baggage handlers. Keep it protected by putting it in a protective bag- we love this one! We prefer the bags that zip open wide, making it easier to quickly slide the stroller in, while rushing to board the plane. We haven’t found stroller bags with significant padding (for a reasonable price), but the unpadded bags do a great job of preventing tears, or the stroller from getting snagged and pulled in a way that it shouldn’t be pulled. Plus, the unpadded bags fold up small for easy storage.

Car Seats

Traveling with a toddler means you ALWAYS have to have a car seat. And when you check them, you can count on them getting tossed around by luggage handlers, which could cause damage you can’t even see.

Though nothing will give you 100% protection, we love these padded car seat backpacks. We love the backpack straps that make it easier to carry, and the wide zipper so the car seat easily fits inside.

For extra protection (and to save a little suitcase space), we sneak in our toddlers’ favorite blanket, pillow, lovey, or whatever. We’ve even put a pack n ‘ Play mattress topper in there- it fits perfectly behind the car seat, and works great for kids who don’t sleep well on the hard pack n ‘play surface. I’m not sure you are technically allowed to put things in the car seat bag, besides the car seat, but we’ve never been stopped.

Electronics

For electronics you are bringing on the plane with you, make sure you have a protective case. Toddlers, under any circumstance, are prone to breaking things. On the plane, you can expect lower than normal focus and higher than normal frustration, so make sure anything they’ll touch has a great, toddler-proof case.

This inexpensive case has protected our kids’ iPads from TONS of damage due to dropping, even THROWING (not that I recommend that), banging, etc.

For electronics that you are leaving in your checked bag, just pack it carefully in the middle of the suitcase, next to soft clothing, so it won’t move around even if your bag is tossed around.

9. Burn off Energy at the Airport

Take advantage of all the time you’ll spend waiting around at the airport, and let your toddler burn off some of their energy before boarding.

Because walking through the airport might be TOO mentally and physically exhausting for toddler to handle, you’ll want to set aside a little bit of time for them to move around at their own pace.

We like to find a quiet corner of the airport, give our toddlers a couple of cars or monster trucks, and let them drive, or crash, or whatever active play they are interested in. Or we might have them walk from window to window to check out the views of airplanes taxiing or taking off. We’ll even use the patterns in the carpet to make up a jumping around game. Anything to get them moving around, and get a little energy out.

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

10. Have a Great Pre-boarding Routine

Before you board the plane, make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be.

Change diapers one last time so your toddler will be clean and dry, at least to start. AND if you’re lucky (and your flight is short-ish) you MIGHT get to avoid changing your toddler in the teeny tiny airplane bathroom.

Or if toddler is potty-trained, make sure they get one last potty before boarding. And make sure the parents get to go one last time as well!

Fill up water bottles. And make sure you have all the snacks you’ll need for the flight.

Take advantage of the space in the airport to take one last look at your carry-on and make sure it’s well organized so you’ll be able to grab anything you need on the plane quickly.

And SKIP eating, at least for your child! For most toddlers, food is entertainment. Save it for the plane. Every bit of entertainment counts on the plane!

11. Dress in Layers

When traveling, comfort is important, both for your child, and yourself. Make sure you dress in comfortable layers. Temperatures can vary widely throughout your journey. Airplanes can be hot and sweaty, or quite chilly. You may be traveling to a beachy-hot vacation, but coming from a wintery wonderland. Somehow, your outfit has to work for all these temperature swings.

Toddlers are particularly intolerant of not having the right clothing for the weather.

We live in the Pacific Northwest, so for most of the year, it’s chilly at home. And because of that, we often pick warmer weather destinations. So here is an example of how I’d dress my toddlers for a flight:

  • Lightweight shoes, like crocs with socks. Then I can remove the socks before landing at our destination to keep feet cool. Otherwise, I might toss in a pair of flip flops for the destination.
  • We love simple colorful designs, so every top goes with every bottom AND the kids still love their clothes.

And don’t forget to keep yourself comfortably dressed in layers as well. I can do without shorts, but I HATE when my feet are hot. So if I can’t wear flip flops on the plane, I’ll always bring them with me.

12. Bring a Carry on that fits under the seat

When traveling with a toddler, your carry on bag is EVERYTHING. You will be reaching in to that carry on constantly for boredom busters, food, emergency supplies, etc.

You’ll want it easily accessible at all times (even when the seat belt sign is on or during turbulence).

We have an older version of this backpack and love it for flying with kids. It has a million pockets for keeping all the little things we need organized and easy to find, a chest strap for comfort, TONS of space for gear, AND it easily fits under the seat. It’s absolutely perfect for travel with kids.

13. Pack a Quick Change Kit

Diaper changes, or clothing changes on the airplane are bound to happen. And they are NOT fun. The bathrooms on airplanes are roughly the size of a postage stamp, with a changing table that MIGHT work for a Barbie Doll.

Make things a little easier by packing a quick change kit for your toddler. You will not want to have to haul a whole diaper bag or backpack into the tiny bathroom with you.

I LOVE this changing pod because it actually has space for more than one diaper, and maybe even a change of clothes. This one on Amazon is another great choice.

Keep a change of clothes with your changing kit just in case there is leakage. I like to keep the spare clothes sealed inside a ziploc bag OR, even better, in these reusable wetbags that can be strapped to a travel changing pad. That way, you can remove the clean clothing from the ziploc or wetbag, then use the bag to store any soiled clothing for the rest of your flight.

14. Bring Snacks!

For many toddlers, eating is entertainment! Heck- snacking can be a great distraction tool for lots of adults as well!

So even if you really prefer to have real meals every time when you are at home, travel is a perfect excuse to loosen up, and let your child live on snacks just for one day.

Bring your child onto the plane hungry (if you can without getting to HANGRY levels), so they are ready to eat.

We bring some that are fun, some that are healthy, and some that are kind of emergency distraction tools, like mini M&Ms, lollipops, or fruit snacks.

15. Bring New Small Toys

Keeping a toddler happy and occupied in a tiny space on the airplane is no small feat. But the excitement of NEW toys, even tiny ones can really help out. We shoot for one small new toy per 1-2 hours of flight time. This might seem excessive but you’ll be surprised by how quickly they’ll go through things while bored on the plane.

And you’ll want to carefully select the toys you bring as well. We look for toys that take some concentration, and that don’t require their entire body to move as a part of play. For messy toddlers, I also try to minimize the number of loose pieces, or at least have a plan for the loose pieces. For example, something like this is perfect keeping any small pieces contained, and can be left open on the tray for playing IN.

Squigz are a great travel toy! They don't stick to the tray super well, but they do stick to windows, tablets, etc.

Here are a few of our favorite toddler airplane toys.

We don't limit screen time on flights. Tablets are a huge travel tool for us.

16. Try EarPlanes

EarPlanes, which are designed to minimize ear discomfort by slowing down the pressure change in the ear, and block out some of the noise, are now available in a child size! If you can get your toddler to wear them, they can be a huge help with ear pain.

17. Skip the line at car rental agencies

After you’ve tested your toddlers patience on a flight, you know what you DON’T want to do? Ask them to wait in line for an hour to rent a car.

Car rental lines (even when you have a reservation) are notoriously long. The whole process can be super frustrating for everyone.

Luckily, you can skip the counter and go directly to your rental car with services like Avis Preferred, National Emerald Club, and Dollar Express. The services vary by airport, and company, but the basics are you either go through a shorter, express line, or skip the counter all together and go directly to the lot. These services can literally save HOURS and are a total lifesaver for families with kids.

A few things to remember:

  • Make sure you review and understand the specifics of the service you’ve chosen. Not all services are the same.
  • Call ahead, especially if you are new to the program. Make sure your membership was correctly applied to your rental, and check on the rules for your first time using the program. You MAY have to wait in line to show your credit card the first time.
  • Remember that not all airports have express services. Smaller airports are much less likely to have skip-the-counter services.

18. Be Mentally Prepared

It’s no secret- flying with toddlers is hard work. Do whatever you can to get some decent sleep the night before, and grab a coffee on the way.

Here’s what you can expect when flying with toddlers:

Expect to spend the whole flight singing, playing silly cheerful games, engaging with your child and all of the fun little things you’ve brought along, and generally staying upbeat even when your child gets frustrated, or overtired and unable to sleep. I love my kids more than anything in the world, but 3, 6, 8 hours of 100% attention can be exhausting! But it can also be a great bonding time. And if you go in with the right mindset, you might enjoy .. well.. PARTS of it.

Naps?

Sleep for toddlers on a plane can be surprisingly tough. My toddlers VERY RARELY sleep on airplanes. And it’s not JUST my toddlers. Many toddlers struggle to sleep on planes. The excitement and unfamiliarity can easily make napping impossible for some toddlers, even those who ALWAYS fall asleep in the car.

Other toddlers sleep great on the plane. They take extra naps, and sleep from the moment the plane takes off until after it lands. This is SO VERY much not my kids, but probably that will be your kiddos. However, I think 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!

19. Don't worry about judgement

When traveling with toddlers, 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 you and your children are entitled to purchase tickets on the same flight as them. 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.

And after traveling quite a bit with my kids as babies, toddlers, and older, we find that the vast majority of people we encounter are kind and understanding. If you are stressing before you even leave, don’t. I’m pretty good at worrying, 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.

Specifics On TWINS

If you have TWIN toddlers, flying with them can be just THAT much more intimidating. But we’ve done it many times, made mistakes, and figured out all the little tricks so you’ll be successful on your FIRST try.

While ALL the tips above apply to twins as well as singleton toddlers, there are a few twin specific tips we wanted to point out just for the twin families!

20. Bring a lightweight double stroller

When traveling with twin toddlers, the stroller is an absolute necessity. Even if your toddlers prefer to walk, you’ll want it for the airport. If both happen to fall asleep, or become to tired to walk through the airport, the stroller is a lifesaver.

But, many double strollers are SO huge, they will be too big for a protective bag at gate check, too big to fit in the back of a rental car (unless you pay for the upgrade), and difficult to fold up in a rush when gate checking.

Travel double strollers just make the whole process SO much smoother and easier. And we definitely recommend purchasing one if you plan to travel very often with your twins. Check our recommendations for lightweight double strollers here (including some that be your ONLY stroller, budget options, and more).

21. Rent or Buy at your Destination

Twin toddlers require SO much stuff, it’s almost impossible to actually bring it all with you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t travel with your twins. There are tons of great options to make traveling with twin toddlers easier!

Diapers and snacks

If at all possible, buy diapers at your destination. Even if traveling internationally, you’ll likely be able to find something that will work for your twins.

Even though it may seem expensive to pay vacation-area inflated prices for your diapers, consider that diapers for twins is likely to take a BIG portion of your checked suitcase. And you’re likely paying upwards of $50 each way for that checked suitcase. So purchasing diapers there actually saves you money.

And since you are going to make a Target run anyway, don’t worry about packing too many snacks for your toddlers. Go ahead and pick up the necessities at the same time you pick up their diapers. And grab some milk, if you have somewhere to store it.

Somewhere to sleep

Bringing two Pack ‘n Plays was not something we ever seriously considered. They are huge, heavy, and just 100% not worth the hassle. And there are tons of great options for easy sleep solutions for your twins:

  • Most hotels, and many vacation rentals, have pack ‘n plays or cribs. However, vacation homes will almost always just have one. Hotels often will not let you reserve pack ‘n plays- they are first-come-first-served. But, if you call ahead, you may be able to secure two.
  • For many destinations, you can rent quality baby gear from companies like Babys Away. For a totally reasonable price, you can rent cribs or pack ‘n plays (plus any other toddler gear you might need), and have them delivered straight to your hotel.
  • Our preference, especially for older toddlers, is to just get them a bed at our hotel. We love these inflatable bumpers because they fold up small, and really work for keeping our crazy-sleeping toddlers on the bed! Just tuck them under the sheet, and make sure everything is tucked in tight!

For more twin toddler packing tips and tips for once you reach your destination, click here.

22. One Backpack of Supplies for Each Child

In my family, we almost always travel with my husband and I, and our twins. So we have one parent per child. So we make sure that each parent has a backpack with everything needed for ONE child.

With this system, we never have to bother each other for a snack/toy/diaper, or worry if the other is in the bathroom or otherwise occupied. Everything is there, and organized exactly how we want it.

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.

Of course, we can and do frequently switch children, but the basic supplies are all the same, so the system works well for us.

If you are traveling with your twins alone (only one caregiver), you obviously won’t have that option. In that case, we’d recommend a very well organized, and carefully packed backpack so that you can quickly find everything for both children. And, you might even be able to pack a LITTLE bit lighter by sharing some things between the twins (i.e. if they don’t often spill or have diaper leaks, you might be able to get by with just one spare outfit for both).

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

When traveling with twin toddlers under the age of 2,  we don’t recommend keeping both toddlers as lap babies.  This is an issue for a number of reasons- both you and the toddlers will be squished, uncomfortable, and miserable, and you can only have one lap baby per row, so you’ll be separated from your travel partner. 

However, you MIGHT be able to get by with just buying a seat for one of the toddlers.  Because you will have the seat for one of your twins, you’ll have the flexibility to switch out who sits in it, and have a bit of extra space in your toddler’s seat.  

We loved purchasing 3 seats for the 4 of us (my husband, myself and our twins) when my twins were younger. 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.  

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

Once you start buying seats for both your twins, the configuration that works best for us is having a parent with each twin seated in the middle (parent) and window seat (toddler). One parent and toddler will be the row in front of the other parent and toddler. This allows us to pass kids or gear back and forth, if needed, or just easily talk. And it means both kids get the coveted window seat, so no fighting.

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.

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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