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The debate: Should big kids be allowed to ride in strollers?

Two parents face off on the topic of older kids in strollers.

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Photo: Jani Bryson/iStockphoto

“Yes, I let my big kid ride in a stroller”
Rebecca Cuneo Keenan, mom of three

Sure, I let my six-year-old son ride in the stroller, knees up to his earlobes, head pressed against the canopy and all.

We didn’t have a car when he was born, but we did have a stroller. We pushed that baby everywhere. We did eventually buy a car a fter our second baby arrived and it started to become faster and easier to drive, you know, just this one time. So we did. Driving soon became the norm. Even last year, during my third pregnancy, walking became so diffcult (thanks to severe pubic bone pain) that I had to drive to the local library, the neighbourhood park, nearly everywhere.

Now, with a six-year-old, three-year-old and a 10-month-old in tow, I’m eager to put my walking shoes back on. But I know I’m not going to get very far with a six-year-old setting the pace. I had already graduated my son from the back of our sit-and-stand- type stroller when he turned four, making him walk instead. Many whiny, foot-dragging, throw-yourself-on-the-ground walks later, I’m ready to put the baby in a carrier and give my son’s old stroller spot back to him.

Judge all you like, because that six-year-old in the stroller? He already walked for half an hour, played a full game of T-ball and then hit up the monkey bars. The choice isn’t between making him walk or letting him sit in a stroller, you see. It’s between riding in a stroller or hopping in the car. If I can burn a few extra calories instead of fossil fuels, then stroller it is. It’s not just me either, all you would-be stroller judgers about to shake your heads at my family. Strollers make our lives so much easier and, for some of us, they are indispensable.

Think of the single mom who needs to transport kids and groceries several blocks at the end of a long day. Think of the kids with disabilities or developmental delays. Think of me and my thunder thighs, too, if I keep driving my kids everywhere just because I know the walk back is going to be brutal. It may seem counterintuitive, but if our goal is to raise active kids, then leading by example and fostering a culture of walking is much more important than keeping a big kid out of a stroller.

Here’s why Greg Pratt, dad of two says “No” to big kids in strollers>  “No, I don’t let my big kid ride in a stroller”
Greg Pratt, dad of two

Oh, I know all about the screaming. The tantrums that ensue when I tell my older kid, who is four, that she has to walk instead of getting a lift in the double stroller are legend on our block. Actually, it happened just the other day, when I told her she wouldn’t get a free ride to the store down the road, in our midtown Victoria neighbourhood. She spent the trip frothing at the mouth and screaming, “I want to go in the stroll-o!” as I stared ahead, eyes locked in the thousand-mile stare, muttering, “You’ve got legs for a reason, kiddo, use ’em.” She spent the whole walk actively despising me, dawdling as slowly as possible, but she walked. (Isn’t this what quality time with our kids is all about?)

I’m not here to make life easy for my kids, despite the sensitive-skin wipes, noise machines disguised as various farm animals and endless amounts of, ahem, revolutionary suction-cup-based dishware that I’m constantly suckered into buying. I’m not even here to have my kids like me. I’m here to get them ready for the world. And, as nice as it would be, having a personal valet isn’t part of their future.

We spend a lot of our time lamenting how kids these days are too sedentary, right? And how they’re always stuck inside. We’re all concerned about rising obesity rates, and we want to eliminate entitlement, of course. So, once they’re a bit older, I say, scrap the stroller.

Does it slow me down and add time to our travels? Yes. But I’m already awake at 5 a.m. dealing with the kids anyway. It’s just a simple matter of preparing in advance and leaving earlier; things take longer with kids. And after awhile, your kid will be legitimately exhausted — they do tire out faster. I think at that point, tossing them in the stroller or letting them use the standboard is perfectly fine.

I’d like to plop my exhausted, ancient, dust-covered body in ye olde pram and get a lift, too, but that ain’t happening. So make the kid walk — they’ll thank you later. Once the screams stop, you’re safely home, and the noise-machine sheep is lulling away the day’s tantrums, you’ll thank yourself, too.

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