How We Do – Crossing The Street With A Crowd

how we do final

Every Tuesday, I tell you how WE do something and then you tell me how YOU do it or how to make it better…

So I know this not may sound like a very glamorous topic. Who am I kidding, NOTHING about parenting is glamorous. But when the idea occurred to me, I realized that, for the last decade, getting my crew from Point A to Point B has been the source of much consternation.

Often times, the logistics of such an accomplishment left me sitting in my car, scratching my chin and humming. So… here’s how we’ve done it and how we do it now:

Back when it was just the twins, my double stroller was my friend. If you’re a twin mom, you know the big debate over side-by-side or front/back strollers. I picked this one and never regretted it for an instant.


Then we had Adam. Suddenly I had three kids under two. I cried a lot.

Usually, I put the twins in the stroller and wore Adam in my Ergo. But if I couldn’t use a stroller, I did have a little strap that I wore around my waist that had two little harnesses (shhhh, don’t tell anybody) and I could wear Sam and Ian close. I know those things are considered taboo in some circles, but my hands were, quite literally, tied. I usually used it as back-up for practicing holding Mommy’s hand. I had them tethered to me so I knew they were safe but I would hold their hands (wearing Adam) and we’d move achingly slow across a parking lot while they learned to stay close by.


No pictures of us crossing a street because I didn’t have enough hands for it. But here I am wearing Adam. Please enjoy my straight, short hair.

Then I had Ellen. Four kids two and under. I never left the house….

No, I’m kidding. I left once a week: to go to the grocery store. I’d pull up right next to the shopping carts, pick out the special cart that held four kids, load them all from the van to the cart, and stroll across the parking lot. This was the closest I came to regular exercise.


Oh, and we did have a quad stroller for a few years. It was huge and bulky and heavy and oh, HUGE, but it worked.


Fast forward a few years and a few kids, here’s our solution now – We Duck Up.

I don’t remember exactly how it started, but I lined them up somehow and told them they were ducks. I said they could quack softly but that ducks stay in a line and they never stop following the duck in front of them.

My kids totally fell for this.

So now, we unload from the van and announce: Duck Up!!


My ducks don’t stay still long enough to pose for a proper picture…

They don’t have an order they have to be in, we’re not the Von Trapp family or anything. Andrew gets in front of the line (usually carrying Finn) and I bring up the rear to make sure the rules of the Duck Line are strictly observed.

If I’m leading the Ducks and Andrew isn’t with us, I assign a twin to run the back of the line or to lead the troops, whichever I feel more comfortable doing. It’s often easier to let them lead if we’re inside a building and not facing ongoing traffic. If we’re just crossing one big street, I’ll stand at the front with the big boy and we’ll talk about what to look for and when it’s safe to go. Once we’ve both decided we can move, I send him on to lead the troops and wait until the last little body is safely across before I bring up the rear.

It’s hard not to attract attention this way, but we attract attention regardless. It was a lot more stressful when there were lots of little hand grabbing at us or trying to pair them up with a buddy and hope that they minded their buddy or didn’t pull their buddy into the street. This way we can survey the situation and determine how safe it will be for us to proceed. And the likelihood of somebody getting yanked into traffic goes way down if we don’t let them touch each other.

If somebody does step out of line, I can call it out from behind or I can just tell everybody to stop. After the initial pile up, we address the issue and move on.

We smile big and the Littles quack and we make it happen. Just like I’m sure you do…

So tell me how you make it happen with your people? Are you sunk without a stroller? A fan of wearing them all over your body? (This would be my preference if I could.) Tell me how YOU do…. 



  1. I love this! I’m planning on writing about this very thing on my blog soon because we recently moved to Scotland and are now a pedestrian family. We had our 4th seven weeks ago. It is definitely an ordeal getting everyone places, grocery shopping, using buses and trains, etc, but we make it happen.. All of ours are still contained in stroller and carrier right now except one but I’ll keep this idea for the future!

  2. “Duck up.” I love it! With “only” four, it’s a bit easier. As they step out of the truck, they line up next to it. When everyone is out, I take the hands of whichever two I think need the most guidance at that time and tell the other two to take hands. The two set off in front of me and I come behind with the other two. I don’t give them any time to question or complain, just, “march.” We use “red light, green light” to keep everyone stationary or moving as needed. I also added, “fall back” for the time when they all think they can walk next to each other down a narrow space. That means they’re supposed to stop and let the rest of us pass, but well…we’re working on that one.

  3. This is what we did. Dad at the front, Mom as the final duck. Only once did the line somehow divide in two, and we spent an hour trying to find our other half at a war re-enactment. 🙂
    Love the pictures, and your perseverance!

  4. We did something similar, but we tried Alpha, Beta, and so forth, formations so the kids would line up and there could be a new “line leader.” I think it made it more fun when Daddy was with us. We gave a good many observers a chuckle with our attempts to corral our crew of six, eight years old and younger.

  5. And suddenly I realize I have no idea how my own mother did it. I guess my sister and I were old enough to “grab a baby” by the time we got to 6, 7, and 8 kids in the family. AND we lived in the country and Mom went shopping by herself on Saturdays. But still. The logistics. Getting out of the van for church was crazy.

  6. Suddenly, I’m glad my four kids are spread out over eight years. This is one thing we never had to worry about. The older two were always old enough to behave themselves and walk with us by the time the other two were born and needed help.

    But I’m also stuck balancing an energetic preschooler who still wears Pull-Ups at night and an emotional teenager. Stretched like a yogi. So maybe it all works out in the end.

  7. We call them our ducklings and have them line up in whatever random order we happen to call out.

    And yes, they usually quack. Loudly. But I have zero shame left so it’s fine.

  8. We kind of walk in a mob. I try to push the youngest one or two in a stroller or cart and keep the other one who really needs to be kept close holding onto said stroller. Then the other three usually fan out around or behind me. If they get into trouble then we “line up” with the three oldest walking single file behind me in their assigned places.

  9. Lora Lynn Fanning says:
  10. Lora Lynn Fanning says:
  11. Chad Williams says:

    We also do “ducks in a row” with our 6. We’ve been doing it ever since child #3 or 4 came along. We may have even gotten it from you since I really don’t remember how it all started. Anica or I will yell out “ducks in a row” and all the kids will line up. In age order. Because apparently we are the Von Trapp family. (Except we don’t sing.) Youngest first, oldest last. That way there are several pairs of older eyes watching the littlest ones and we know that our oldest is always bringing up the rear. It works. People notice. Oh well. I think we’re about used to it by now.

  12. Duck up…that’s darling and super clever!


  1. […] My hero over at Vitafamiliae is running a series of posts on how her household runs, a household of 7 kids including a Littlest of her own (just a week or so older than our Littlest). Since I’ve been rethinking the “how” of my entire life lately, I thought I’d join her series and think my “hows” out loud to you all. Kind of two birds with one stone, idea. Some of my hows will be household-related and some will be homeschool-related. I doubt any of it will be earth-shattering, but I hope it will be encouraging at the very least. […]

  2. […] front of Gap. After a run through of the plan with the kids, we unloaded everybody and we practiced Ducking Up and crossing the street. We marched into the store, I grabbed what I needed, and we moved up to the […]

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