Winter, especially the kind of winter we had around here (in January anyway) can pose some problems for the carfree family. It comes with obvious perks, like not having to find parking or dig out a car, but it can be a little tricky to get out and about with small kids, particularly at certain ages.
We tend not to bike much with the kids in winter. Everywhere we really need to get with them we can walk. For longer trips, we tend to stick more to things accessible by bus or train. But even walking can be tricky when everything is covered in lots of snow and ice. For both of our kids, the first winter was pretty easy. We wore them in carriers everywhere, and had coats that fit over the top of them keeping everyone warm without need to wrestle a baby into a giant snowsuit. If it was icy, we’d wear Yak Trax. We didn’t use the stroller much at all.
But winter with a one and a half year old is a little trickier (our kids were born May & June, so they were both solid toddlers their second winter). With our oldest, we were able to keep wearing her in a back carrier without too much trouble through her second winter, but this winter with R was a little different. For one thing, he’s a bit less thrilled with being worn all the time, so getting him into a carrier can be a fight if he’s not amenable, and that is really not the kind of fight you want to be having when you need to get the kids out the door to daycare NOW. We probably would have just forged ahead anyway since strollers are such a pain in the snow, except my mother-in-law picks up our kids from daycare once a week. There was really no way we could ask her to wrestle 25 pounds of screaming toddler onto her back. She’s a fabulous grandma, but that definitely would have been above and beyond the call of duty, and it’s too much of a walk to carry him in arms, and he’s not (yet) a reliable enough walker to hoof it himself.
So we bit the bullet and picked up a second stroller. Our usual stroller is a very used 2006 Maclaren Triumph. It’s worked great for us. Tiny. Light. Has a bit of a recline. Perfect for public transit. Our new stroller is the polar opposite. It is a kind of stroller I swore I would never own, and I have cursed at people (under my breath) for bringing similar strollers onto crowded subway trains. Yes. It’s true. We bought a jogging stroller, which we have fondly dubbed “The Beast”:
We found this circa 2000 or so Dreamer Design on our local parenting listserve, and it fits the bill for handling freakish snowdrifts perfectly. Big wheels. Relatively indestructible. Involves less screaming toddler wrestling. Some might argue we should have gone with a rotating front wheel, but I like the fixed wheel for powering over snow drifts (though I can see where a rotating front wheel would be better for trying to maneuver through very slender barely shoveled walkways).
If we hadn’t had the grandma daycare pick-up factor, we probably wouldn’t have gotten the Beast, but if I’m honest, I really like having it in the arsenal. Walks are so much easier with it than the umbrella stroller if weather is involved. It’s even worked nicely as a pseudo-winter-grocery-cart for heavy things when I didn’t want to bike on ice with a full load. And since I’m being honest, here’s where I confess I have even taken the Beast on the train (but not a bus! Never a bus!). And in my defense, it wasn’t rush hour (there were about five people in the whole car).