The Many Hazards of Shopping

Even though Orion is four, he still gets quite tired on shopping trips. It’s funny the way his behaviour has cycled – when he was young and just walking, he would wail and thrash about if I tried to strap him into the pram. Now that he’s older and walking is no longer a novelty, he just wants to sit. You can distract him with food and rewards for a short time, but at the end of the day he is still small. One of my steps is equal to three of his. Before Piper was born, I would take the pram to shopping trips just so he could rest when he needed to. When Piper was tiny, I packed the baby carrier into my supplies and snuggled her around the shops so that he could take a moment to relax when necessary. Piper is almost sixteen months old now and she loves to walk, but she’s too small to walk the distance that her older brother can – not to mention, she’s far too slow. I simply cannot eject her from the pram in favour of Orion when he gets tired.

I shop once a week with my Grandma, every so often on weekends with my husband, and occasionally with other people. I use my pram a lot. It’s been a great pram, and even though I would probably buy a different one if I were buying my first pram now, I love the maneouvrability and sturdiness of it. Lately, shopping trips have become extraordinarily stressful. Orion’s progressed from complaining that he is tired to demanding I carry him. He’s no lightweight at 16 kilograms, and when I’m with my Grandma or my Nana, I still need to wheel the pram even if I’m carrying him. My only option is to support part of his weight on the handlebars of the pram. This makes the pram difficult to manage – not to mention, it’s not designed to carry that sort of weight on the handle. I could refuse to carry him, and sometimes I am forced to do so if my body is aching. This results in him leaping in front of the pram to stop it moving, grabbing and pulling on it, clinging to my legs so I can’t walk, or simply throwing himself on the floor and refusing to move. None of these situations are particularly ideal. It takes time and many cuddles to calm him down, and eventually we do get moving, but it makes the whole expedition frustrating and often unpleasant for everyone involved. The hardest part is, I can’t really blame him. He’s exhausted and has no accurate way to express his feelings other than to misbehave.

When these occurrences were only minor, I broached the issue with Marshy and he suggested looking into one of those skateboard type platforms that attach to the back of the pram. After a bit of research we realised that our particular model of pram would have Orion’s head directly beneath the handle bar. He’s tall, which means he would either have to lay forwards over Piper or be leaning back like a water skiier. I won’t even go into how difficult it would be to push the pram with him hanging back like that. The same problem went for the few models that carried seats. I did revisit the option as things began to worsen, but I had a gut feeling that it just wasn’t the best solution to our problem.

Option two was a second seat for my pram. I have a Strider Plus, so it has the option to take a second seat on the back. When I purchased the pram initially, this was a feature I was particularly interested in. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with Piper three years later that I discovered Orion was already well over the weight limit for the second seat. I can remember standing in the baby store, staring at the saleswoman like an idiot as she told me that the second seat is intended for the baby and the older child is supposed to go up the top. Given I had purchased the special baby capsule attachment for the pram when I was pregnant with Orion (which clicks in place of the regular chair) I had assumed the older child would go underneath. Er, no. Further investigation showed me that the child on the bottom ends up with their legs in the luggage basket, which is always full of our stuff when we go out. The last factor I had to consider was that I hang my nappy bag over the handle of the pram (due to other aforementioned stuff being in the basket) and if I were to put a child in the bottom seat, the nappy bag would quite literally be sitting on their face. If I knew all of these things when I was originally pregnant with Orion and picking my pram, I would have made a very different choice – but that’s a long time ago and as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

The only solution left was to buy a second pram, and switch between the two depending on the situation. I cringed at the thought, but it was the most logical solution. Two chairs, side by side, with a high enough weight capacity for Orion to sit in, a large luggage basket and a solid handle to hang the nappy bag from. Given I was prepared to spend between $100 – $150 on the previous two options, I figured that as long as I could find a pram below that price then it was a reasonable purchase. However, I am no longer as naïve as I once was, and it was not surprising to discover that the cheap umbrella strollers didn’t have the weight limit I required. If I wanted something sturdy enough for my needs, I was looking at something new, fancy, and incredibly expensive. I felt totally stumped. Then some friends suggested looking for something second hand and I could have just slapped myself. Why didn’t I think of that in the first place? Surely other people must have the same issues as I do. So I hopped on the internet and discovered that yes, I was not alone. A bit of searching and a little trip down the road, and I found an older model pram that did exactly what I wanted, at a bargain price of $50. Given the current model retails at about $350, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. It’s not as maneuvrable as my expensive pram, but I was willing to trade that in a heartbeat. I expected it to be enormously wide, but it’s only 3cm wider than my Strider. Yes, my Strider is huge.

One shopping trip later, I can safely say this is one of the best $50 I have ever spent. I have to learn a few new tricks, such as not to park it in an awkward position unless I want a really good ab workout, but there were no tantrums. No arguments, no begging and no crying. Best of all, there were smiles and laughs and Orion is quoted as saying, in front of witnesses, “I love the two seats pram, mummy!”

I love the two seats pram, too.

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation like this? How did you get through it?

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