Busing with two (not so) babies, part III

My two babies at a bus stop

Recently, it occurred to me that, at 20 months (or, “one an’ a haff,” as he says), Busling is long overdue for some baby bus nerd walk training. After all, Chicklet was months younger when I started forci—er, encouraging—her to walk on our outings, and it’s paid off. These days, she can hoof it a mile and a half (two, even) at my pace without blinking an eye.

I’ve been putting off walk training Busling, in part because he’s the baby (they grow up fast enough as it is!), but mostly because I simply do not have enough hands. I stubbornly cling to my beloved baby pack, despite the fact that Busling has been too big for it for going on eight months, because it leaves one of my hands free for luxuries like, say, carrying an umbrella. (The other one, of course, is hanging on to Chicklet.) And, there really aren’t any good alternatives.

I can’t wear Busling on my back because I’m just not skilled enough at the on-and-off maneuvers, and sitting can be a challenge with a person right behind you. Plus, he pulls my hair.

As I’ve mentioned before, strollers and buses don’t mix. That brings us to option three: traveling with two walkers. You don’t have to think about this option long before you start seeing the challenges. Ever tried holding two hands and, well, anything else? For that matter, ever tried holding a toddler’s hand for longer than 30 seconds at a stretch?

Well folks, I have.

Since last Thursday, we’ve been experimenting with Busling on foot–with the baby pack stuffed into the bus bag, just in case. So far, he’s done great. (The kid is a trooper, like his big sis.) Not surprisingly, he travels at an excruciatingly slow pace, but he hasn’t complained or asked to be picked up, not even on steep hills.

I couldn’t be prouder of my baby boy, but I already know it’s going to be a long fall and winter. I still have no solution for rain, shopping bags, or tired legs, and I can only fall back on the pack for so long before my back gives out. (If I’m still strapping the kid on on our walks to elementary school, please, call someone.) We’ve entered the bus parenting “awkward stage” I’ve been dreading since B was born, and I don’t foresee it ending until he is close to Chicklet’s current age (four in less than a month!).

The perks are still the perks, though. As with all of my previous challenges, I’ll keep trying—and keep you posted!

21 thoughts on “Busing with two (not so) babies, part III

  1. Dorea

    Thanks for linking back to our old post, it reminded me we need to get on the walk training with R. Grandma has been doing her part but at a few months past two we’re still big on the stroller or carrier, or lately, the bike since the weather has been so good.

    As far as your current logistics, in mere moments, if not already, Chicklet will be able to follow instructions without a hand and know to stay close or go sit where you tell her, which helps for boarding. As far as stuff, it sounds like you need a really big backpack (which I’m sure you have already). How do grocery carts fare on Seattle buses? Are they frowned on similarly to strollers (they are tolerated here)? If they are OK, it might work to have one hand on the cart for groceries etc, have Chicklet hold the handle with you, and hold Busling’s hand with your other hand.

    (Now is probably also not the time to tell you that there are better carriers than the ergo for toddlers…and if you can work on the back carry you might get another 6 months or so…but that’s just putting off the inevitable I suppose…)

    1. BusChick Post author

      Thanks, Dorea. I can always count on you guys for good advice. You prepare and think through problems much better than we do. (Bus Nerd is not bothered by inconvenience, and I’m not sure what my excuse is.)

      Chicklet can indeed follow directions without holding my hand. (And she usually does board on her own.)The problem is, I have to hold on to her when we walk to and from stops because if I don’t, she DAWDLES (finds leaves to pick up, inspects insects, etc.). This is great for leisurely walks, but not when we’re trying to get somewhere quickly. Also, when we’re near a busy street, I just feel better when I have a hand on her. Pretty soon, I think it will work to have her hold her brother’s hand. (We do this sometimes now.)

      Grocery trips usually happen on foot, so I usually just put Busling in a big jogging stroller that is easy to push with one hand and use it for storage.

      And, yes, now WOULD be a good time to tell me about carriers that work well for toddlers. I’m big on borrowing, and I’m sure I can find someone to lend me one.

      1. Dorea

        The most well-regarded toddler carrier I know of is the kinderpack, but it’s really expensive and hard to find used. We switched from an Ergo to a BabyHawk Oh Snap when the body on the Ergo got too short for R’s incessant arching, and it’s still working pretty well at 28 months (Angela won’t wear him anymore, but I will, so your mileage may vary). Another one that *claims* to be better for toddlers, but I haven’t actually tried, but might be easier to come up with to borrow or at least try is the Boba. Basically, you are looking for a SSC (soft-structured-carrier) that has a body that is both a bit wider and a fair bit taller than the Ergo. Oh, I’m also writing from the perspective of back carries. I wish we were local so I could teach you how to do them (and then we ride transit standing up, with H sitting on a seat nearby).

        Oh, and I was just meaning the grocery cart for “stuff” (library books, bulky items, etc), not so much actual groceries.

        1. BusChick Post author

          I have been checking out the different carrier options you mentioned online. They both seem to work like the Ergo (with better coverage), which means I can’t get out of practicing the on/off back thing. :( (The idea of leaving him on my back and standing for the ride is interesting and did not occur to me.)

          Grocery carts are tolerated here, but there are a royal pain to get on and off the bus. (Most of our buses have stairs.)

          1. Dorea

            What have you tried for getting him on your back? At 20 months, he may be willing to get on himself. What you’d do is put on the waist of the carrier, then crouch down and he’d hang onto your shoulders to get on piggy back. You boost him up, and stay crouched down while you pull the body of the carrier up over your back, and hook your arms through the loops (make sure you’ve loosened the arms ahead of time), and then jiggle him down and tighten. If you’ve tried it already, disregard, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that they can help a lot with the back carry as they get bigger. And I promise, I’ll stop nagging you about back carries now…

          2. BusChick Post author

            Yep, that’s pretty much how I do it. It’s not that I can’t get him on my back; it’s that it’s not convenient to get him on and off (while holding a bag and keeping track of my big kid) on crowded (moving) buses or at stops with no shelter/bench. I always end up defaulting to the front carry because I can do it quickly–and without worrying about dropping him. : ) The idea of leaving him on my back and standing for the ride is an interesting one which I will definitely try out.

            P.S. – I love that there’s a carrier called Oh Snap! I need to find one to borrow pronto.

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  3. BusChick Post author

    Today I rode the 4 near a pregnant woman who was traveling with three children under four (one of them was an infant). I was traveling solo and happened to be getting off at her stop, so was able to help her with the two walkers.

    Her kids were no trouble at all during the ride, but I still got tired just watching her.

    You won’t hear anymore whining out of me for a while, folks. Yeesh.

  4. RantWoman

    Have you considered a harness? My nephew was just thrilled at about Busling’s age to be able to walk without running too free.

    I have also seen day care centers with flocks of kids on some kind of rope or belt. I am not sure whethere the kid has to hold onto the belt or whether it gets attached to the kid, but…

    1. BusChick Post author

      Interesting idea. I’ve never been a fan of those things, but they seem to work well for other parents, and, for a kid that age, they DO seem safer than hand-holding.

  5. jkh1948

    I endorse the tot’s harness. Even if you think you can hold his/her hand, they can pull free at the WRONG time. I know my parents had one for me. And I was thrilled to read a communication from Dorea. I’ve lost their site address and have wondered how they’re doing in their tiny, tiny condo and with their busy lives.

  6. Melissa

    I second the suggestion of standing while wearing the toddler. It’s easier & faster than loading/unloading and keeps them contained while you’re riding.

    Although I didn’t care for the ring sling when she was younger, it’s a nice option now for quick pickups–grab the kid, stuff her on my hip and get a few blocks fast. It’s also handy for carrying stuff home if the kid is walking.

    Thanks for all the clear, helpful, hilarious posts. I could gush about how much I love your blog…but I’m trying not to.

    1. BusChick Post author

      Thanks, Melissa. I really appreciate that. And thank you for the idea.

      Funny, I never even considered a sling. A former coworker lent me a ring sling when I had Chicklet, and it didn’t work for us back then. But yeah, I can see it working for a quick hip carry–and for carrying stuff. Now I wish I hadn’t given it back!

  7. Liz

    Oh my stars your children are cute! I grew up riding the bus with my mother, and I remember the same kind of training you are doing. I always wonder when I see four-year-olds wheeled around the suburbs in those 5-foot-wide strollers now. It seems like that is convenient for busy parents, but not as much fun or as good for developing independence.

    1. BusChick Post author

      Thank you, Liz! Full disclosure: There are still times when I let my four-year old ride in a stroller (we bought a used jogger with a back seat when I was pregnant with Busling), but that’s only when I walk distances that most people cover in a vehicle. For example, this morning, we went from our house to an appointment about a mile and a quarter south of our home. My daughter walked that distance. We then walked from there to church, which is about a mile north of our home (total: 2.25 miles). My daughter rode that distance, and I rationalized it because we could have taken the bus. (In fact, we often do, but when it’s not raining and we’re not rushed, I prefer a walk to the transferring and waiting we usually do for such a short distance.) Then on the walk back from church (another mile south), she walked again.

      Anyway, blah, blah, blah with the details. I just felt compelled to admit that sometimes I’m one of those people pushing a four-year old in a stroller. I always feel like I should carry a sign that says, “She usually walks!” ; )

  8. Liz

    PS – Well, really we lived on a farm and only rode the county bus system occasionally – I probably shouldn’t compare my experience to what you’re doing – but trust me, there were no strollers!

    1. BusChick Post author

      I hear you.

      My Grandma didn’t drive and loved to walk. I have so many memories of walking somewhere with her and ending up blocks behind, struggling to catch up while she tapped her foot at the corner. What I would have given for a ginormous kid stroller back then!

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