Saturday, April 08, 2006

Safety harness ... my a$$!

I was reminded recently of baby harnesses ... those little contraptions that you can put on children and let them walk - but not wander away. A long time ago, I thought they were inhumane - but - that was before I had three toddlers and understood the need to keep them close. Anyway, I thought that these little things might really help us out - - because the babies are not as content as they once were always being in their stroller. They want to get out, they want to walk. I on the flip side, don't want them to wander away ... which they will ... if I don't have a way to hold on to them.

Yesterday, I ventured off to Babies R Us (BRU) with all three kids in tow. This could be an entirely separate posting in itself, how I made the brilliant discovery that I could spend a happy 45 minutes letting my kids play with various floor models in the toy department and how the kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. While I was at BRU, I picked up three harnesses. SAFETY HARNESSES they're called. I also picked up some other baby items including a toilet seat lock (why we need a toilet seat lock is a posting I'll save for another day); some new sippy cups because we're trying to transition from the bottle (also a posting I'll save for another day); and a bathmat - so that we could again - start bathing all three babies in the big tub (definitely a posting for a different day). We made our purchases, left the store, and drove home. I hadn't left the house for this venture until 2PM, so by the time I was driving home again, it was 3:30. Right about nap time. It was only a 20 minute drive ... and I figured that maybe they'd sleep a bit in the car. The girls caught a 10 minute nap ... William didn't sleep at all. I could tell everyone was zonked. But, using my "keen maternal sense" decided to forego the afternoon nap with the hopes that maybe they'd all go to bed easier than they have the past few nights (thanks to Daylight Saving Time change).

We get home and I give everyone a little snack. They start playing with a few of the toys I bought at BRU. Carolyn is fixated on her corn popper ... the old fashioned kind they had when "I" was growing up. It's a little sphere with a handle attached, and when you push it across the floor, balls (aka: corn) pop in the sphere. William and Elizabeth are playing with some toddler "beads". I was excited to try out the harnesses - - so once Charlie called to tell me that he was coming home from work, I assembled the babies in to their new "safety" gear, and took them out in the front yard. At first, it wasn't so bad. They all were going in the same direction ... forward. I thought to myself "THIS IS GREAT, WE'RE FREE!" Then William went left, Carolyn went right and Elizabeth fell down. I got Elizabeth up, reigned William and Carolyn back in - - and we started making our way down the street. This is when my second bout of "keen maternal sense" kicked in. I actually thought I could salvage this trip.

Not surprisingly, this is when everything went helter skelter. Suddenly, I felt like I was caught in a riptide at the beach and couldn't get out. We live on a corner. One side is nicely landscaped with a gradual hill, going down from our house, the other side is bordered by a neighbor. We decided to walk down the hill with the landscaping because I figured the kids could play on the grass and climb on the small rocks in the yard. The babies and I became one tangled mess within a matter of seconds. William just wanted to keep walking down the hill ... Carolyn - who wouldn't let go of her corn popper and took it outside with us, was going up hill ... and Elizabeth was climbing on the rocks. Babies were falling down all around me. When I would get everyone standing again, they'd manage to walk in circles around each other and around me - - so that the straps from the harness were like lassoo's around necks, legs, and ankles. This is when I first started to question the "safety" in harness. Within a few minutes, I had three, fussy babies because they didnt' get an afternoon nap, laying on the ground and crying. It took everything I had to remain standing. I don't know why I didn't start crying too. Instead, I was laughing so hard I thought onlookers would think I was a nut.

People driving their cars by our house slowed down and stared. Children playing in the street stopped what they were doing to come and look at the spectacle unfolding on our side yard. By this point, about 15 minutes had passed and I'm thinking it's OK because Charlie will be home at any moment to help me get them back in the house. I honestly don't think I could have rounded them all up - because although I can hold two babies ... what am I going to do with the third? Drag them in by their "harness"?? Minutes start ticking by. No Charlie. I look up and see our neighbor, Sydney, who lives on the corner adjacent to our house standing in her yard - arms full of mail - giggling at us. I shouted up to her "I thought it would be easier then this!" She just nodded and I yelled "They didn't cost very much, thankfully. I doubt I'll ever do this again." She nodded again and I added "Hopefully, Charlie will be home soon to help me get them back in the barn." I'm glad she decided to stick around - because it took Charlie another 10 minutes to get home. Had it not been for Sydney, I never would've known he'd arrived. He'd driven his car around the other side of the house and parked in the driveway. Sydney, in a position where she could see both of us, let Charlie know he needed to come help me.

Charlie just looked at me in disbelief when he walked around the side. He assessed the situation and said "What were you THINKING?!" Even with his help ... it took another 10 minutes to get the kids inside. I've been wondering since then ... how long would we have been out there - completely trapped - before I got any help? Sure, Sydney might have lent a hand - but I could tell from her expression... she was afraid to get too close. If I wasn't in the house when Charlie came home, he would have wrongly assumed I'd taken the kids for a walk (in the stroller) and been fine. Since I didn't have a cell phone with me, I might have been stuck out there a long, long time. At what point would he have come to look for me? Or - would he have said "Ah, a nice quiet house - all to myself. I'm going to sit back on this beautiful Friday night and drink a beer." Heck, that's what I would have done!!!

What's a real crack up is that I had all these delusions of grandeur for how these safety harnesses were going to simplify my life. I actually thought that I'd be able to take the dogs AND the babies, for a walk around the block. I never would've imagined that I would get stuck for almost 30 minutes in the side yard. With all this energy we spent, we never even left our property boundary.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of this fiasco for the blog. But, here is a picture of me walking the babies and the dogs during one of our more successful outings ... along the side yard - where we were trapped, yesterday.


  1. Hi Jen,
    I think you need a harness like the one you have for the dogs and then you can just reel them in. Three is too many to have on a harness by yourself methinks. Perhaps you could take two in the carriage and one on the harness and take turns with them walking.
    Don't worry it does get better.
    What fun you are having and I am enjoying reading every day.
    I have new DSL and am trying to figure it all out.

  2. Jen,

    I HAD to post when I saw that picture. I have two dogs (had three) and I only have one babe and I can barely walk the two dogs. The though of strapping Julia on my back or pushing her in a stroller while walking all three just makes me want to sip a martini and take a long nap.

    By the way, this is ajdub (Amanda) from "Baby Steps." ;)

    I have always been impressed with your ability to manage your triplets. The flights cross-country...the recent adventure to Costco....but oh my! Walking with all three and the two dogs. I bow down in humble admiration.

  3. What a fiasco! Hilarious though. Your ability to manage with humor intact is admirable.

  4. Child harnesses are a great way to keep any child safe, first off your using them wrong dont tie all the lead,s together. I know what its like with multiple kids but the idea here is to keep them safe not from picking up cheese parts off the path, its about keeping them away from cars and crossing the street.