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I Don't Want to Be Hassled About Putting My Kid in a Stroller

Photograph by Twenty20

My husband and I took our daughter to her first art fair last August. She was just small enough to fit in the baby carrier but, when my back gave out, we popped her into the stroller, where she was (mostly) happy. We're headed back this year, and, in addition to the stroller, I’m planning on stocking up on snacks, sunscreen and cups of water for another full day.

I love going on adventures with my daughter, but I'm not going anywhere without my stroller. While my daughter is a walker now, she can't go the whole day across the vast distance of the art fair. Also, she has the attention span of a gnat and likes to run as fast as she can away from me. That's not changing any time soon.

In fact, I already know that, even when she is old enough for preschool, I’m still putting her in the stroller. Because, call me selfish, I can and will be able to walk much further than my daughter. Even when she’s older. If she’s content sitting in a stroller when she’s tired and lasts longer, then you bet I will be “that mom” with the big kid in the stroller.

As a parent, why should I sacrifice what I want to do because my child can’t keep up with me? The way I see it, a stroller is a tool that lets parents still enjoy themselves. Nothing more.

I mean, take the art fair (or some other outdoor activity): it lasts for hours, comes with crowds of people and was, honestly, way more enjoyable before kids. You want to continue to see the exhibits, but your kid is complaining that they’re tired of walking. Plop them in the stroller. Are they complaining they’re hungry? Give them a snack to eat on the go—or even lunch—because you can’t find any other seating in the crowd of people. Maybe they even close their eyes or pull out the iPad and, Mama, you just bought yourself another hour to browse.

But what I really want to argue is that stroller use specifically, and parenting choices, in general, come down to the fact that every family’s needs are different.

Plus strollers have storage for days, compared to what I can carry in my arms along with a tired kid. Older toddlers and preschoolers still require stuff to travel with, like books, toys and snacks. My stroller has a place for a bag and plenty of room for my purse, stuff I bought and a bottle of water. In fact, I am so used to taking the stroller with us pretty much everywhere that don’t even know how I would survive without cup holders and that under-carrier basket for my purse. I'm done with lugging that stuff around.

And yet: there's judgment. For pushing your tired, leggy child and not making them walk. For infantilizing the modern kid. For being indulgent and breeding laziness in the next generation.

Oh, please.

Just because parents are walking around pushing a stroller doesn’t mean their kids ride in there the whole time. But even if they do: Who cares? Like a lot of public parenting, big kids in a stroller is a small snapshot of how a family operates overall.

We could go through all sorts of scenarios of physical and intellectual disabilities, the distance traveling or their child’s specific need for security.

But what I really want to argue is that stroller use specifically, and parenting choices, in general, come down to the fact that every family’s needs are different.

Not to mention, every kid eventually outgrows the stroller. Why would someone who is not me get to decide what age that should be?

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