Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stroller Etiquette

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Those of us who have our license to stroller sometimes encounter obstacles. Before I gave birth, I had heard about and imagined some of the issues, but I had not realized how it would actually be, as was the case with most things baby related. This post will take a look at some of the issues that I have encountered while operating a stroller.

For starters, I happened to purchase a rather large four wheeled travel system. It is a sturdy stroller with plenty of room for storage, complete with cup holders and an umbrella like structure to close baby up in harsh weather.  While those things are certainly assets,  if I were doing it again I would purchase something much smaller, and I would opt for a three wheeled version. Several of my mommy friends have this type and I have noticed that they are much easier to maneuver and they can spin around on a dime, unlike my buggy which requires a three point turn in order to do a 180.  As I have discovered, there are numerous obstacles that make driving this stroller a little difficult at times.

We'll start simple. Doorways and doors in general. Some are very narrow and require precise positioning for just about any stroller to get through. Not to mention the task of  simply getting them open. I am thankful for ones that offer an automatic motion sensor or a push button that allow them to pop open for just enough time for you to slip through. There are others that are not so easy to go through and while I have had some really nice people turn back or run ahead and hold the doors for me when I am coming from a distance, some don't even see me and I have to figure out a way to squeeze in.

Second - walkways - or lack there of. Some man made ones (sidewalk) are bumpy with rivets that cause wheels to stick, and others more natural (shoulder) are so narrow that its risky to drive on as you may veer off the road,  possibly ending up in a ditch with one false move. In some public places access to walkways is limited often to only one or two lowered spots. I have several times spotted cars parked across said access points, making it impossible to get the stroller up on the concrete around their tires. Not everywhere and not all the time - but it has happened.

Another point of interest - space. You wouldn't believe how many aisles in stores are NOT conducive to strollers. The shelves are too close together, the products stick out and as a result the wheels catch, things fall and occasionally break - and its embarrasing.  Unfortunately reality is simply that some businesses have limited space, which sometimes limits where we can wheel our strollers.

Another mobility issue - sometimes elevators are limited in location, function and availablitly. There may only be one elevator in a building for example - and it may be a far distance from an entrance or may have a tendency to get stuck. Unfortunately we just don't have the option to take the stairs when we choose to bring our strollers.

My final point of concern is the mommy and baby parking spaces. I often wonder how diligent every-day people are about using them honestly. A while ago while wheeling my son across a parking lot, a large truck cut us off, zipped into a mommy space diagonally taking up that space and the better part of the handicapped space next to it. When the driver got out he was clearly alone, he had no baby with him and I'm pretty sure he wasn't pregnant. It did not make me feel good. I know he is just one person, but it made me wonder.

Don't get me wrong, most of the time I am perfectly happy using my stroller and I hate to be a negative momma. But sometimes certain things bug me. I know that part of being a mom and having a baby is that certain things are not as easy or even possible like they once were. It's just that some of the things that I mentioned above simply don't seem fair.  As an alternative for close quarters I do have a Snuggly (a back-pack like carrier) which I use occasionally. This is a great hands free way to carry baby, but it can cause back pain if you keep it on too long. However, it is a friendly alternative for certain places and/or events for short periods.

My last thought on this subject is all of these issues are ours for the time only while our children are babies - for people who use wheelchairs it is a daily concern. Now that's really unfair.

Momma's Musts
  • Be prepared. If you are going somewhere new on a time limit,  scope out the stroller friendly entrance and arrive early so you can get ample parking. It will save you a lot of potential stress.
  • Be courteous. If someone goes out of their way to help you, ensure that they are aware of how much you appreciate it. On the flip side, pay attention around you and help someone out who may need it when you can.
  • Be patient. It's highly unlikely that someone would intentionally not hold a door for you. The world is not out to get you!
  • Be happy! No matter the obstacles you may face, don't let it stop you from going out with your baby. Try an alternative carrying method when it appears to be the better option. Make sure you enjoy yourself when you are out, and don't let the hiccups dictate your mood!

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