It can be hard to get one toddler to smile for a picture, let alone 20, but these moms pulled off the impossible in their recent visit to the mall.
Santa Claus had no idea what he was in for when he sat in his chair at the Woodfield Mall in Illinois.
Stacy Kifer, co-founder of "Chicago Twin Moms," a parenting group for moms with multiples under the age of two, organized 20 toddlers and their moms for a very special holiday picture.
"At some point, we realized that parenting newborn twins is a little bit isolating," said Kifer. "Our online groups became an outlet to discuss the highs and lows of parenting multiples, and we decided that we should get together and meet each other in real life."
Their group started out small, with just five moms and their twins meeting for lunch. Now the group has larger meet-ups and even manage to snag some child-free time.
"Last month, we went to a wine and painting event," said Kifer. "Our husbands have all been very supportive of us and our outings."
Since they share the same experiences, they can relate to each-others' daily lives the way many others can't.
"They all have similarly aged children, so they are living a very similar experience," she said. "We can talk through both our challenges as well as things we've found that work well. We can share tips like 'Don't buy any gifts for your toddler that include a hammer or sticks.'"
So when they went to see Santa, you can imagine the look of surprise on his face.
Santa and the mall were not given a heads up when all these moms and pairs of toddlers showed up to get their photo taken.
“Santa (and the mall) had NO idea this was happening,” Kifer said, saying that the group outing was an impulsive decision.
The mother of 16-month-old twins Kaleb and Kobe, put the idea to the group and decided to try and coordinate everyone in the photo.
“We put it out there to our entire group and suggested they all wear red and/or green for the photo,” she said.
While many of the twin moms already dress their kids the same, they went the extra mile for the photo.
"We are all really into clothes and dressing our kids alike, so many of us even had the same shirts as each other that we got from a fellow twin mom’s t-shirt business,” Kifer said.
The mothers gathered at the mall early to be first in line to see the Christmas icon. Before their photo they were taken to a waiting area that looked like a giant snow globe.
“That was the really wild part,” Kifer added. “20 toddlers running around with fake snow!”
You can imagine the look on jolly, old Saint Nick's face when the collection of toddlers left the waiting room to come see him.
“The look on [Santa’s face] when more twins just kept coming out of the waiting area was pretty priceless,” the mom said.
Realizing that there was no way to keep their toddlers steady, all the moms jumped into the photo too.
“Santa’s ‘elves’ and the photographer were amazing at getting all the kids to look at them,” she said.
With kids under three, it's really hard to get a good experience while visiting Santa, but these moms were clearly able to pull off the impossible.
“We only had one meltdown which we thought was pretty good given the number of kids [we had].”