When I'm out and about, I always get the same question.
How do you do it? How do you manage with 3 kids so close together? (We have 3 under 5.)
The answer is easy although it actually took me to ponder on it a bit. It's like training for just about anything. You start out small and you have all of these extra steps that you read about, heard about or think about. Then the second one comes along and you refine your process to take out what you did not need or failed. When you see that you haven't broken that baby, you realize that you can handle this. Finally the third comes along. The other two are healthy and smart so you know to yourself that you got this. Everything you do is more learned than heard.
You become a pro at quick and efficient because if you don't, then someone is going to change their mind. It always happens so the quicker you can do, the less chance of sidetracking. When you announce, let's go here. You better have everything for yourself and the littlest ready because you've now called the mobile ones and chaos is about to happen. Best advice. Learn to plan. Plan ahead with clothing, snacks, accident fixers, etc. It's the only way you have a chance at making it out the door.
Once you're out, it's a whole different ball game. While my husband was gone last month, I took all three grocery shopping. I made sure to go to a place where they were kid cart friendly and gave my two oldest tasks. As we went down the aisles, I said what we needed and had them help me find and put it in the cart. Make everything a game! You'll get their attention easier. Also you might as well leave your cell phone in the car. Cell phones are the kiss of death when you're trying to wrangle the kidlets. It's simply not worth it.
Finally, when you make it back into the car, take a deep breath. Talk to the kids (if they're still awake). Thank them for helping you. Tell them how awesome they are and how much of a big help they were. And if you feel up for it, stop for a special treat! Show them how being good can sometimes get you something extra special. In this house it's either Starbucks for a cake pop or Dunkin Donuts for a sprinkle doughnut. So those treat places aren't only for them but that's the point! You did well too. You survived 3 kids who were well behaved even with a quick disciplining here or there. (That's how they learn something isn't right. You have to tell them, but the power is in the way you do.)
So that's it. I do it because I have the training. Also, I know that I do not know it all but I have an open mind. That's all you really need. You have to be open and willing to figure it all out. Try the things you want to try to better your children and discard what fails. You aren't the failure. It just wasn't the right way for you or your kids. Once you're willing to accept all that, you just do and you do pretty darn well.