Recently, I came home from a mother/son vacation, which involved a lot of walking. My six-year-old son, who is small for his age, walks as fast as a sloth on pot. I, on the other hand, am a fast walker, and also, impatient.
It drove me batshit crazy to beg him every two seconds to walk faster. But he would just respond by saying, “You’re walking too fast.” Even though an 88-year-old with a cane passed us.
So, I pulled out the stroller. And, yes, it was a lifesaver. Sure, my six-year-old not only looked ridiculous in the stroller—obviously he’s way too old to be pushed around—but he’s also a hell of a lot heavier than when he was a baby. But I didn’t care. I would rather push him than have to walk two steps and constantly turn my head to my lagging son to demand, “Hurry up!”
Sure, we were on vacation, but his legs were really on vacation. No, I wasn’t pushing him to keep him close beside me, nor was I pushing him because he’s lazy. He is just beyond a slow walker. And while I didn’t love the fact that, by pushing him, I sweated profusely, and my back hurt, I still would rather have him in the stroller. My little dude, of course, took full advantage of me pushing him, enjoying the ride. And why wouldn’t he?
Still, like my daughter who was still sucking on a bottle after the age of three, he looked loony and I looked loony for pushing him. No one I know pushes their kid in a stroller over the age of four. But I didn’t and don’t give AF. I not only could walk at my quick pace, but I loved having the storage space under the stroller, to keep an extra sweater, or groceries that we had bought, or toys I had purchased for him, and an umbrella. I think, in fact, I missed the stroller more than my son, because I didn’t have to carry five heavy bags, on each arm.
That being said, I was shocked to read in this article about when you should stop using your stroller, that I possibly could be ruining my kid’s life forever.
Honestly, I burst out laughing when I read, “Psychologically, the impact of being dependent on strollers after a certain age of development is even more serious. The child could become unable to function as independently in life as he/she should at that age.” Um, what? Is this a joke? Was this article telling me that my son will need therapy in the future because I push him around in a stroller occasionally, at age six? Sure, he may need therapy later in life for other perceived parenting fails, but for being pushed in a stroller? I call B.S.
The article goes on to say, “…in most cases, parents should stop letting their kids use a stroller at around the three-year mark.”
When my daughter was still drinking milk out of a bottle when she was three, she too, looked ridiculous. But, as I said to everyone who told me that she was way too old for a bottle, “Do you ever see any 15-year-olds walking around sucking a bottle of milk?” She got off the bottle, of course, on her own time and no, at 14, she does not need therapy.
Many people actually debate the age in which a stroller should be ditched. In another article, also un-creatively titled, When should your child stop using a stroller?, it reads, “There will come a time when you won’t need a stroller anymore. More importantly, there will come a time when you shouldn’t need a stroller anymore.” Again, they cite “experts’ who believe that a child “should be transitioning out of a stroller around three years of age.”
Yes, I still sometimes push my six-year-old in a stroller. So?
The article also suggests that “growing and developing children need the right amount of exercise. Allow them a good stretch of legs by letting them walk on their own. The child will be discouraged to be active and independent if he becomes accustomed to riding instead of walking.” Sigh. My six-year-old gets a lot of exercise. He’s on a soccer team. He jumps and plays basketball on our trampoline for hours, every day. He’s a bundle of energy at all times.
Yes, he walks on his own, but what mother hasn’t heard, during the school year, “I don’t wanna walk. My legs are soooo tired!” That’s not to say I bring out the stroller to walk him to school. Nope. He uses his scooter, to get to and from.
When it comes to the debate on when you should ditch the stroller, some parents create even more of a debate about ‘laziness’ in both kids and parents. I liked this article, How old is too old for a stroller because they recognize that it’s not such a black and white issue, pointing out factors to consider, including personality of the child, the nature of the outing the amount of walking and the type of stroller.
One mother commented, “Once you’re going to Pre-K at four, you’re a little too old for a stroller. However, I’d probably use a stroller for my five or six-year-old in Disney because that’s a lot of walking on some little legs.” When I take my son to the Canadian National Exhibition, (the C.N.E.), yes, I will bring a stroller, because my kid loves games—rather, winning a ton of prizes—and I need somewhere to shove the shitty prizes he so adores, so I don’t have to lug them around.
Another commenter added, “It’s lazy not to teach your kids how to walk without a stroller. I still say bring it just in case your little one gets tired of walking, but every child should get to walk.” Honestly? If I always let my kid walk during our walks, let’s say to the nearest ice cream shop, it would take us two-hours, as opposed to 20 minutes. But I know his little legs will grow. I know he won’t be in a stroller when he’s 12.
My favourite was the commenter who shared, “So I shouldn’t be putting my 10-year-old in the stroller anymore? Just kidding. Depends on the stroller, child and where you’re headed (like how much walking you’ll be doing). I liked having the stroller when they still weren’t potty trained so you had a place to carry all the diaper changing things.”
So, yeah, I know that my six-year-old is too old for a stroller, but I don’t care about judgemental stares. I’m the first to know that we both look comical when I push him around.
I know he will eventually not want to be pushed in a stroller or forget that the stroller option even exists, just like my daughter forgot about the baby bottle one day.
But I also don’t occasionally mind still pushing my son in the stroller, for another honest reason. This mama wants to have toned arms, and every mother who has pushed a stroller for years knows that it’s pretty good exercise. So, it’s win/win, for both my son and I, when I sometimes still use the stroller.
When did you ditch your stroller? And, honestly, don’t you miss the days when you could use the stroller for storage? Ah, memories.
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