When the girls were about 9 months old, we did a music class. A set of 2-year old twins attended our class with their nanny. I remember watching them arrive and leave with their leash backpacks (see exhibit A).
I will admit that I very briefly entertained the idea because it just seemed so easy. The nanny had control over them with just one hand. I just couldn't do it though. While I understand why people do it, especially with multiples, all I could do was joke about walking along holding four leashes (girls and dogs).
From the second I found out that we were having twins, I had visions of two toddlers running in different directions, while I stood in the middle pulling my hair out. When they first started walking and we would head to the park, that WAS me. The little punks drove me insane, especially because they insisted on going to the highest point on the jungle gym (and tested me by going straight to the openings while looking 8-9 feet to the ground). They had just found their walking legs and were seeing the world from a whole new level so I cut them some slack. My patience and nerves took a beating though.
I knew that I needed to gain control over the dynamic duo. Calling their names worked 20% of the time. Calling their names 15 times in a row in a stern voice worked 22% of the time. Running after them, grabbing them kicking and screaming and then throwing them in the stroller worked 100% of the time. It wasn't ideal.
You can't threaten a 12-18 month old with no TV or Wii or dessert if he/she doesn't listen. They knew I wasn't serious and played me for a fool, running away laughing. It drove me crazy!
About a month ago, I started give them a 5-second countdown. If they weren't walking towards me by 1, I picked them up immediately and put them right into the stroller. No exceptions. Consistency is key. Teagan, in particular, ended up back in the stroller a lot at the beginning. She usually screamed and cried. After a few minutes, I would give her another chance. The amount of time back in the stroller increased with each offence.
I've also implemented a holding hands rule when we walk on the sidewalk or cross a road. Again, if they refused to hold my hand, it was back in the stroller or in my arms (which they usually didn't want, especially when the other was walking). I love it because they now reach up and grab my finger on their own.
While it took some work, I am thrilled to say that 5-4-3-2-1-stroller has worked like a charm. I can't even remember the last time Quinn had to be put back in. Teagan only had one offence today!