Why I Still Use A Stroller For My Pre-Schooler

There are a lot of people who don’t like strollers. Parents and childless alike seem to be personally offended by the existence of strollers in a space that they must inhabit as well. They’re big. They get in the way of everything. They are impossible to maneuver through a doorway without assistance. They’re expensive for no real reason. Man, strollers suck. But I still use one on day trips with my four-year-old.

First, I guess I should backtrack on strollers sucking. It’s really not that the strollers themselves are to blame. There are people with strollers who suck. There are actually people everywhere who suck, whether they’re pushing around a child in a carriage-like contraption or not. You just notice that the people with strollers suck more because they’re easier to pick out of a crowd. What with their behemoth of a baby-cart and all.

Yes, I am happy to admit that rude people with strollers suck. They ram into people’s ankles. They made expectant faces when they walk to a door and no one immediately opens it for them. Then they don’t even say thank you. They push their strollers through crowds of people like the semis of the sidewalk, knowing that their sheer mass will convince people to move out of their way or wait for them. All of those stroller-pushing people suck.

But believe it or not, there are other kinds of people out there pushing strollers. We are hyper-aware of any ankle within a three foot radius of the spot we’re standing in. We never push to the front of the crowd at the zoo, but keep our cart at the very back of the exhibit, out of the way. We say “Thank you,” an almost unbelievable number of times to everyone who keeps a door open, squishes to the side or tells us that we dropped something. And we really, really mean those “Thank you’s.”

There are horribly rude people who push strollers around, but there are also those who aren’t trying to bowl anyone over, they’re just trying to have a nice day with their kids without bothering or imposing on anyone else. I consistently strive to be the second kind of stroller-wielding woman.

Plenty of people wonder why I still use a stroller or wagon at all. My daughter is 4-years-old. She can walk just fine. She probably runs faster than I do, no matter how little those legs are. Shouldn’t she be able to walk on her own? I’ve gotten plenty of looks when I whip out the stroller for a longer zoo trip or a big day of shopping. Amusement parks, fairs and festivals are all appropriate times for me to lug out my stroller, but some question why it’s necessary.

(Photo: SVLuma/Shutterstock)

The truth is that my daughter still likes her stroller. And on a really long day when she’s likely to get tired and frustrated, I really like her stroller as well. A four-year-old can obviously walk around on her own. She can even walk around for hours on end when the situation calls for it. We go hiking and she walks miles with no problem. So if she really needed to walk around the zoo all day long, I’m sure she could.

However, when we have full-day trips, little kids just don’t have the stamina of adults. Especially in the heat, our little girl gets worn out after a while. Instead of pushing her past her limit and risking the cranky attitude that comes with exhaustion, it’s really nice to let her crawl into her stroller and take a break for a while. If she’s feeling overwhelmed by the crowds and people, it’s nice to let her sit in the wagon and have her own little space. She feels more comfortable that way. I like to figure that I’m actually saving people from the possibilities of a moody child throwing a tantrum. Tantrums don’t happen for us when our tuckered out little one can take a minute in her stroller and take a break.

Day trips and long excursions, the types of places that I still use my stroller, are overwhelming for me as an adult. All the movement, all the people, all the heat. For kids, I know it has to be the same. So it’s nice to give my daughter the opportunity to take a break from that and collect herself. In museums, it’s nice for her to be able to look at things without me constantly worried that she’ll reach a hand out. These occasions don’t happen often, so I want to make sure that she can enjoy them.

And I have to admit on a purely utilitarian note, it’s so nice to have a little extra space to bring along things kids can use on longer trips out of the house. A couple extra water bottles and snacks go a long way on a trip to the zoo. Children have luggage, I don’t care where they’re going. Moms carry around small distraction toys, treats and cameras to catch the cutest moments wherever they go. It’s kind of nice to have somewhere to throw all that stuff, like the bottom of a stroller.

My daughter gets plenty of movement and exercise on a day-to-day basis. I don’t need to test her endurance on a day at an amusement park. On those rare treats, I would rather just let her enjoy herself. And that includes giving her a place to crash when she’s all tuckered out. I think that helps our family have a better experience, and it doesn’t have to get in anyone else’s way of a good time.

I’m not trying to offend others by taking my stroller out in public. I don’t think that I deserve more than anyone else because I’m pushing around a child. I wait my turn, watch my step and generally try to act like a decent human being. But that stroller helps my daughter to enjoy some great experiences without all the stress of an exhausted little girl. It gives her the choice to walk with me or sit down for a minute. And as long as she still needs that choice and still needs the opportunity to take a break, I’ll keep taking a stroller or a wagon with me to day trips.

(Photo: Nuno Andre/Shutterstock)

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