The kindergarten countdown has begun. It’s the countdown to the day when I feel like I can officially ditch the stroller, and run without pushing 75 pounds of weight in front of me. Most days I’m scheming to schedule my run around a time when I don’t have to take that darn thing with me.
Motherhood is bittersweet, though. I’m also thinking about how much I will miss pushing either of my children in the stroller. The hilarious conversations (and the thoughts that in a few short years they might not want to have such free conversations with me) are priceless.
With my oldest child, the transition was easy. She couldn’t wait to get out of the stroller, hated sitting in it. As soon as she could ride a bike, she could join me on runs. Now she is old enough to run on her own, and when she asks to go with me I get a little giddy. This child is moving into the pre-teen stage (cough, choke). The time that she runs with me is precious, because she opens up and has conversations like she did in the days of the stroller. Even more, she amazes me with her determination. I’ll ask, “Should we turn around now?” She replies with a steady breath, “No, I want to go just a little bit further.”
Most days I run, there is an agenda. There’s a goal I have in mind regarding pace or distance, and I like to make my goal. I’ve slowly learned to throw that out the window when I have my kiddos along. There is time to PR later; this moment I have with them…and it is a short, sweet moment.
As I embark on the transition with my youngest to getting her out of the stroller, there are several things that I must do in order to make it successful (success means not wanting to pull my hair out before the run is over and ending with a sense of accomplishment for the little one).
Are you about to encounter this transition, as well? With a lot of patience and planning, the transition can be an incredibly awesome time for both you and the children. Here are some helpful reminders to make the most of your time together:
1. When taking a child along, set expectations appropriately. If the little one is not used to riding a bike for several miles, then adjust the mileage so your young one can achieve something. The proud feeling at the end of a short run or bike will be much more valuable than a defeated feeling at the end of an attempted, unachievable distance.
2. Let your child lead the workout! What a great way to induce confidence and build autonomy. I’ll usually let the bigger one decide which turns we will make and how far we will go. Clearly, make safety a factor and a discussion point.
3. Don’t plan on long or hard training runs when the little tags along (save those for when your child is otherwise occupied with another parent, friend, or babysitter).
4. Don’t set a pace, at least during the time of adjustment.
5. Even after an adjustment period, things will still happen. I recall when my oldest was riding her bike at an SW run. She was fast, brave, and could go for several miles. So I let her go ahead of me, so long as she did not pass the lead pack of runners. I figured it would be a great day for a solid 4 miles. About half way through, she fell hard and busted her knee. Thankfully, in true SW fashion, several others came to her rescue, and another child came to alert me…I decided to insert some speed work here. Once I got to her, our workout was clearly over. She was fine, but did not feel up to more mileage. While these type of events are not frequent, they do happen. Be prepared…with first aid, patience, and some PMA (positive mental attitude).
With both children, I’ve learned much about them as individuals through running. It is how I have learned what observations fascinate them, how they interact with others, and how patient, compassionate, and encouraging they can be.
In hindsight, I have great memories of running with the stroller. At the same time, I am excited for the new opportunities that these transitions bring, a chance to get to know my children on new and deeper levels. I will also be very grateful for the reprieve of the stroller-less run.
Have you encountered this stage already? Share your experiences with us!