The only thing more stressful than getting all 3 kids dressed, in the car and belted was trying to navigate them through the parking lot at the mall. I pushed the stroller while Josie and Owen each held onto one side.
My husband walked backwards in front of us memorializing the trip with his camera. Through a forced smile, I muttered "can you put down the camera and look for cars?"
We somehow made it safely though the parking lot and into the closest department store. I grabbed Owen a millisecond before he jumped onto the escalator. "We take elevators now, Owen" I explained pointing to his little sister in the stroller.
When we arrived at the elevator, Josie, who had run ahead, was already inside. I shoved my hand in between the elevator doors a millisecond before they shut. "We have to wait to push the button until we are all together, Josie," my husband said.
I spent a few minutes browsing through the clearance rack looking for some warmer newborn outfits for Emily. I grabbed the first few I found and headed to the register. Josie insisted on handing them to the sales clerk. "Who are these for?" the sales clerk asked.
"They are for my little sister," Josie answered.
"You have a little sister!" The sales lady squealed.
"And a little brother," Josie added nonchalantly.
The sales clerk's jaw almost hit the register.
Just then, my husband came up behind me pushing Emily in the stroller with Owen at his side. "Perfect timing," I said.
"I made a big mess with the towels," Owen said with a mischievous smile. I looked at my husband who just nodded and said, "it's time to go."
I turned back to the register, handed the sales clerk my credit card and waited impatiently for the small screen to say, 'sign here.' Suddenly, my husband yelled, "Josie you can't do that!"
I immediately spun around and saw Josie standing next to the stroller with an uncapped tube of cherry chap-stick. Emily was sitting in the stroller smacking her artificially red lips. Norm got a wipe from the diaper bag and wiped it off, much to Emily's dismay.
I took a deep breath, spun back and finished the transaction. We managed to find our way back to the elevator, but not before Owen pointed out where he made a "tower of towels" in the corner.
Having a third child is a lot like having your first, especially when it comes to taking the kids out. It's overwhelming. It's hard to manage. It's a major adjustment. But the only way to get better at going out with three kids in tow is to keep doing it. And remember to leave the chap-stick at home.