New Found Independence… yikes!

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Categories Other people, Parenting, Toddlers

My sweeties are about 1 1/2 now and suddenly have these smart, amazing minds of their own.  Which of course is a fabulous thing… or is it?!  They would rather walk than be in their stroller, they want to do things for themselves (ie when taking a drink from Mommy’s cup, they want to hold it –>disaster!), climb on everything, and just plain be independent.  It’s helpful at times, but quite difficult at others.  Having TWO small children with this new found “mind of her own” sends each in the opposite direction.  I have found myself lately, asking for more help than ever.  Like in public places- to strangers.  (Not endangering my kids of course) Ha!  I mean, if they’re going to stare and think and/or ask :HOW does she do it?!, then they might as well get a taste for it- right?!  :)  So I took Reese and Riley with me to the mall the other day.  I had only two stores to stop into, then lunch at the food court (why do I love that junky food so much??).  It sounded totally doable.  The girls were doing pretty good in the stroller with snacks being thrown at them every two minutes.  Once it was lunch time, the started really getting antsy.  Screaming-Lovely.  Trying to get out of the buckles- Great.  Waiting impatiently for our food.  I strolled around hunting for highchairs.  Ever notice finding ONE is a breeze, but more?  Not so much.  When I finally found them,  I got all set up- you know how long that takes with two hungry 1 1/2 year olds!  I took them out of the stroller, put them into the highchairs, cleaned the highchairs, stuck down their placemats, and began to get out their food.  It was THEN that I realized that they didn’t give me the fruit.  Reese and Riley put themselves on the ‘fruit only’ diet at times.  Some days= eat anything, some days= fruit only.  So I HAD to have the fruit!  I had noticed 3 men finishing their lunch watching us in a bit in awe.  Men don’t multitask well- do they? :) hee hee.  I thought about loading Reese and Riley back into the stroller, the work it would entail, the possibility of losing my highchairs :) and decided I would just ask one of those men if they’d go get my fruit- ha!  They were so nice and one of them (who was  a daddy of one 6 month old) went and got it for me!  SO nice.  I surprised myself for asking, and I guess it was out of selfishness:), BUT people really are nice most of the time: can’t hurt to ask if  it’ll make your life with multiples a bit easier!

So I have to ask: those of you with walkers, do you use harnesses (animal backpacks sound nicer!) when out and about?  I’ve always thought it was strange until recently- having two little ladies heading in opposite directions!  What do you think??

Amy is a SAHM to Reese Abigail and Riley Grace, 17  1/2 monthers.  The girls latest activity of choice is screaming at the top of their lungs blood curdling screams at each other… then laughing.   What’s with that?!  Mommy and Daddy don’t this it’s so funny… :)  Read more about their adventures at:

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18 thoughts on “New Found Independence… yikes!”

  1. 18 months was a HARD age for us. I thought about using harnesses, but never actually did it. If we stopped to eat while I was out by myself, then they ate in the stroller. I always stayed ready for a quick getaway…….same reason my husband and I always carry cash or pay the bill really early when we go out to eat. :-)

    One time that I REALLY wish I would’ve had the harnesses, was when we were on vacation in New Mexico and spent a lot of time throwing rocks in the river and looking at ducks in the pond. Being around that much water with unpredictable 1 1/2 year olds made me nervous, but we made it! Now that I think about it, they had on jackets with hoods and I held on to their hoods so that I could fish them out if they started to fall in!

    I think you did the right thing by asking for help! Loading them into the stroller again would’ve been a beatdown! It will eventually get easier. I recently took both older kids (2 1/2 yrs. old) to the grocery store without a stroller (or both in the cart) for the first time. They amazed me at how they understood what we were doing, walked next to me, and generally followed directions. Maybe we’ve turned a corner, but I won’t hold my breath. :-)
    .-= Shelley´s last blog ..Mess #2 =-.

  2. Funny you should ask about the harnesses. I used First Year’s Elmo Harness (which also converts to a hand strap), so I couldn’t even get away with calling it an animal back pack. The first time I used the harnesses, the girls loved them. The second time, not so much because they realized how much it restricted their freedom. I was able to say “if you don’t stay with me I’ll make you wear the ‘strings’ ” and that worked (almost) every time. One thing that seemed easier for me than a stroller was a wagon. I used the Radio Flyer All Terrain wagon. My daughters didn’t feel restricted, like they did in strollers, but I could keep them contained. They’re too heavy to pull in the wagon any longer, but I used it until my back and arms ached!
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Review and Giveaway: Celtic Woman =-.

  3. We still have the animal backpacks. My daughters have no idea what the leash part is for. I tried them once. Jessica ran in one direction, jerked me, and I jerked Melody, who was facing the other way. Melody ended up on her bottom. We didn’t try again.

    We have a hard rule that my daughters must hold my hand in parking lots, on sidewalks, crossing the street, and in crowded areas. They usually each grab different fingers on one hand, freeing my other hand for opening doors, carrying groceries, and such. For full-day excursions, I use our Radio Flyer. We ditched the stroller a few days before the girls’ second birthday.

    I take the Doodles to restaurants alone quite frequently. I should probably ask for help more often. I usually flag down waitstaff during our 6+ potty breaks per meal. Our uneaten food once disappeared during a potty break!
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Sanne =-.

  4. We go out to eat a lot. I usually go with a friend for added help. Daddy is away all the time due to his job. When we go to the food court, we keep them in the stroller for eating.

    I think leashes are somewhat cruel, but I may be eating those words soon.

    This past weekend, I had a 12 year old boy come offer me help grocery shopping. He said his mom was grocery shopping and he could push the cart for me while I pushed the stroller. It was the sweetest thing that has happened since I have had the girls. A complete stranger offering help…I hope that I didn’t look that distraught that a 12 year old could see I needed help. I have found myself asking strangers for help more frequently. I mean everyone is so nosey any ways that they might as well help rather than just gawk and ask rude questions. 😉

  5. We eat out a lot with our 18-month old twins, but doing it without another adult present just isn’t worth it. Once you go to all the trouble of getting it set up, your kids aren’t even old enough to carry on a conversation with you. So you sit, playing referee, while they eat. I’d rather save the $$ for eating out with my hubby or a friend in tow. As for leashes, I think they’re terrible. A child is not the same as a pet, but that’s just my opinion.
    .-= Alli´s last blog ..Be Mine =-.

  6. I don’t get why people feel weird about putting kids on a “leash,” and will snicker if they see a dog in a stroller (which is pretty funny looking actually…), but not vice versa? If you will strap your child down in a stroller, isn’t it better to let him/her walk for some excercise and just a little more freedom? Don’t get me wrong, during that 18-24 month period I had my twins in a stroller more than I used the little animal backpacks (which we only managed to use a couple of times because it was also hard for me to manage alone and if my husband was with me, less necessary), but I don’t understand the emotional objection – it doesn’t make sense to me…

  7. I never did the leashes. I felt like if they were going to run off with the leashes on, they would get jerked and fall down. They stayed in the stroller unless there were enough adults present to really keep track of them. If it was just me, I usually carry one while the other holds my hand and walks. Now, that work has paid off and they know how to behave when we’re out and about without the stroller!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Backstory: The Birth =-.

  8. I never did the harnesses … but it was because I didn’t need to not because I have anything against them. I think if using a harness is the only way you can guarantee your kids safety … then use it!

    I have been very reluctant to give up my stroller and will continue to use it as long as possible. I have 3 and they rotate turns in and out …one is always walking.

    I think it was great to ask for help. I have always believed that the comments I’ve received over the years about “Having my hands full” are remarks of respect from other parents who have had only one at at time and know how much work THAT was … and they are happy to help if they can.
    .-= Merri Ann´s last blog ..Blogger of the Year … =-.

  9. I have used the harnesses on a couple of outings, one was sucessful, one was not. The age of 18 months is exceptionally hard as the twins push the limits of their new independence. I would not ever eat out with them without my husband there, its just not worth it. You will find they are less and less willing to spend time in the stroller for outings and thats when things get tricky. I plan my outings so their stroller time is limited. Needless to say, I don’t get much done. A typical outing is EARLY running some errands in maximum of 2 stores, followed by park visit or indoor playground visit to let them run around like crazy so they’re tired for naptime (0:

  10. We got the monkey backbacks/leashes when our guys were about 16 months old. We bought them because we were planning to travel that summer and wanted to let the kids walk around in the airport without fear of them just taking off. Unfortunately, my husband and I didn’t have success with them. While the leash allows you to restrict how far they can go, it still doesn’t take away their desire to go where they want to go. My son had a huge meltdown and had to be carried kicking and screaming back to his carseat.

    However, 5 months later I used them (by myself) to have the kids walk with me in the neighborhood to deliver Christmas cookies to our friends, and they did great. They loved having the monkeys on their backs and were willing to go where I needed them to go. We probably could have done it without the leashes, but our neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks, and I wanted to make sure I could keep them from running out in front of a car should one drive by us.

    We haven’t used them since, so I can’t say if we’ve gotten our money’s worth or not. Another MOT told me that she uses the backpacks, puts the end of the leash around her wrist, and then has the kids hold her hands. That way she has more control as far as guiding them, but knows the leash is there should one kid decide to take off.

    Good luck!
    .-= reanbean´s last blog ..(Un)Healthier Me: February Vacation =-.

  11. I loved reading this, because my twins are the same exact age, and I’m having the same exact issues.

    I have the harnesses (a gift) but I don’t know that I’ll use them. We still use the stroller most of the time…I just plan accordingly. Snacks, no more than a couple of stops, etc. I also plan errands around activity time, like if we go to the mall, I let them play in the play area for a bit before packing them into the stroller.

    I don’t take them out to eat unless I have help (and we do go out to eat with them often, 1-2 times per week on average.) Like a previous comment, I just don’t feel like it’s worth it. I’d have more peace using a drive thru or getting something to go.

  12. Never used the harnesses and hardly used the stroller at that age. They were early walkers so I dealt with the demand to “stretch their legs” early and found that taking them in and out of the stroller just wasn’t worth the hassle of pushing a stroller and holding ther hands on grocery trips or short shopping trips. The one thing I had to establish was ground rules and I implied that putting them back in the stroller was the punishment. If there were going to walk they had to hold my hand or walk close to me. As soon as they requested to walk I would tell them that they could walk only if they held my hand/stayed close. Once they got that this was the only acceptable way to walk, I stopped bringing the stroller altogether. At 18 months though, I think I would bring the stroller to the mall just because there are so many distractions to pull them in different directions. Soon though, they will learn to control themselves and stick to the rules of holdign your hand or staying close and you won’t need to push that thing around.

  13. We took a different tactic after I saw how much worse my neice behaved with her animal backpack than without, plus the idea of getting tangled up in those things really discouraged me. Instead, I found luggage straps at REI that I hooked onto each side of the the stroller. I made sure they were long enough to give them a little bit of freedom, but short enough to keep them close to the stroller and not in other people’s way. From day one, I strictly enforced the walking rule. You may walk as long as you hold onto the strap. If you let go or you try to walk/run away, you will be strapped into your stroller seat. Doing it this way, I had the stroller with me as a place to store all the stuff we seem to have/need. The girls could opt to ride when they were tired of walking. I didn’t need to ever pick up a kicking/screaming toddler, or worse, two of them and try to manage them both while hiking my way back to our car on the other side of the mall.

    As they got older, we experimented with going stroller free. Because they knew the ground rules with the stroller, insisting that they hold my hand was easy to enforce. Now, at 4, they can walk beside me without holding my hand, but know to stay right next to me and to take my hand immediately if I deem it necessary for safety. Although, I must say I really miss having the stroller to store our 3 coats, 3 hats, 3 pairs of mittens, bag of snacks, and any purchases we happen to make.

    As far as eating out, the more you do it the easier it gets. You develop a system that works. We have a perfect little order for getting things set up that when Daddy or a friend joins us, we get a little bit flustered and out of sync.
    .-= Rhonda´s last blog ..Stack-fu =-.

  14. Rhonda’s idea sounds interesting. My kids aren’t great about the stroller because we hardly have them in it (except outdoor walks) but I cannot keep track of my son. My daughter prefers to be carried and that can be tough at the same time. [Oh, they are 18 months tomorrow.] We are teaching Ned that he MUST hold hands – we did that in the Acquarium last weekend. It is a work in progress. I’m on the fence about the leash – but I think Ned is too young to understand Rhoda’s instructions.
    .-= Mommy, Esq.´s last blog ..Sort-of-Versery =-.

  15. I used the backpack leash with my now three year old, starting after he dashed away from me in a busy parking lot. I stopped using it when he proved to me consistantly that he understood our “out in public rules.” I will use them again when my 14 month old twins realize they want to walk on errands. I am in the camp that safety comes first. I can’t hold three kids hands at all times, and yet, I don’t want to stay at home all the time either. The four of us go out to eat, grocery shop, etc without another adult at least a few times a week. I take help when offered (although I’m not sure why complete strangers think I would leave my twins with them to run the three year old to the bathroom.)

  16. My girls are just shy of 20 months and we use a combo of a stroller and backpacks depending on the situation and generally how they are doing that particular day [obeying us pretty well or not, which goes back and forth]. Sometimes the stroller isn’t an option, like when our grocery store doesn’t have the kid carts outside. I then use at least one of the backpacks because the first one out of the car will run into the parking lot while getting the second one out. It’s a safety issue and I could care less what people think of the harness.

    One thing we’re trying to do on a daily basis is playing “Stop Go”– basically a version of red light green light. I’ll start a dance party in the living room with music and pause the music and say “STOP!” and explain how when I say stop they must stop their bodies from moving. And, say “GO!” when the music starts again. They are starting to get the hang of it and my hope is that they will learn what STOP really means. We did it at our preschool group this week and it seems like the more people playing the better the kids got it.

    Also regarding the backpacks, I agree with most of the previous posters that they aren’t the best solution to teaching kids not to run. Although, I do think they are a great safety net if you have it on and hold their hand. I almost always hold their hand anyways to teach them that they need to hold my hand when out of the stroller, in a parking lot, crossing a street, etc. Otherwise, at this age, I don’t think they can really differentiate when to hold hands and not, since most of the time when we’re outside we are near a lot of traffic/danger [we live in the city].

  17. I seriously considered the backpack harnesses, but in the time that I’ve procrastinated getting them I think we may have grown out of the biggest need for them. That age was 17-20 months for me.

    Now at 20 months they are starting to be a lot more managable. Its still hard, but they are doing better.

    I still use the stroller for longer walks/trips, but for short ins and outs, I can hold their hands better now (they don’t fight me).

    I’ve also had luck teaching them to “stand against the wall” (or car, counter, door, whatever), which helps for short situations like unloading the car or paying for things at the store. Basically they stand with their backs flat against whatever surface I tell them, and stand there as if they are frozen. I tried it on a whim, and after some practice, can’t believe how well it works! Hoping it doesn’t lose its magic as they get older….

  18. We use the backpack/leashes on occasion. They have been great for the airport and other public places where we are wandering around without a specific direction. They allow the kids to do a little exploring without wandering off too far.

    Just this morning my 21 month old twins where wearing their animals in front and pretending like they were baby carriers. Pretty cute.

    I am quite strict about holding hands or holding onto the stroller if the kids want to walk. They learn quickly when you don’t give in.

    When we are getting in and out of the car we have a strict keep your hands on the car policy. I get the first twin out and then holding hands take them to the other side of the car where they keep their hands on the opening for the gas tank while I get the other child out. If they were to stray I could still grab them but the hands on the car rule usually helps them stay put.
    .-= Rusted Sun´s last blog ..narrow neck beach =-.

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