Wondering wether to brave going out without the pram? It is a question I have been asking myself frequently recently (See my *Musing* on this) as we enter the stage in our little mans life where he is becoming more independent and is wanting to roam free when we are out and about. The worry however, when you have a wild child like mine, is wether or not they will stay with you; will they just bolt? Will they come back when you ask them to? Will they understand what happens if they loose you? It has been a lengthy transition and we do still use the pram at times but I have learnt a lot and can offer you some top tips to hep you go it pram free!
Now I know there are lots of different places that you could be considering taking your little ones for a solo trip into the unknown realms of pram free existence; errand running about town, a spot of shopping perhaps, on an outdoors adventure to a local park of beach. Wherever you first break free of the straps of the stroller, make sure it is somewhere relatively small and not hectic!
The groundwork that you make with the tips below is definitely best used starting small and then building up to busier and more unknown places.
If you are looking for inspiration on some amazing and generally spacious and bustle free places around the UK to take your little ones; places that they can roam safely and you can try and implement the tips below, see my reviews of all the places we have taken our little dude on adventures here…
Explain what you are doing and where you are going.
Even if your shields understanding is limited try your best to explain to your wee one where you are going and what happens in the place that you are going.
Manage their expectations before you get to the destination so that they know what will happen; this will really help them visualise where they are and what they are doing in that place without them becoming over stimulated and excited to the point where their emotions become unmanageable for you which could then end in a meltdown or them running off.
Introduce hand holding, waiting for you and praise good behaviour.
Of course I realise that you are probably thinking… well this is a given right? But the sooner you introduce hand holding and waiting for you (I try and promote this even just from walking from our front door to the car outside!), the sooner they will pick up the routine of what we do when we are outside so that we stay safe.
Praising good behaviour when hand holding and waiting are exhibited will further reinforce the habit so that when you are in an environment that is unknown, the hand holding and waiting comes naturally.
Make your child part of the experience
I find that the best way to control how your child reacts to being free as a bird and pram free is to involve them in what you are doing when you are out.
Of course this mainly applies to when you have to take your child with you on erred runs or shopping trips… they are of course going to be involved if the trip out is to a park, beach or forest!
If you do have to go shopping with you little one and find they are easily excited by all the tempting things around them, let them push around a basket or help put items in the shopping trolley.
Gove them a little of the responsibility and they will feel like they are helping; make a game out of it if you will!
Ask them which colours they prefer or which item looks best, choices are always loved by kids, especially when it involves food!
Make them feel like they have a certain degree of control.
Prepare snacks and things to carry with them as a distraction
If all else fails I always pull out the big guns… distractions!
A book or small toy (something that they can hold whilst they walk) works really well if it is something interactive that they can actually use and play with whilst they are out if they become bored of whatever you are having to do; a great example is if you have to take them with you to a doctors appointment or something similar.
Snacks are the ultimate distraction, especially if it is a food shop you are having to attempt with a roaming wild child! Distract them from the food that is on the shelves!
If you are walking from your house, don’t walk far!
Remember you have to walk back and little legs get tired!
I have many a time fallen victim to walking to the local park and then finding that my little dudes legs are too tired to walk back again all the way and I end up carrying him the rest of the way home!
Pretend to walk away if they stray from you and say “bye bye”
Sometimes, I will admit that this does not work out. But if you are lucky then it can work like a charm!
I have fund that it works best when children are a little older and my little man has only just started responding to it and is so amazing at following me when I start to walk away.
He frequently strays from a path in a nature walk or likes to run off over fields; By saying “bye, bye then” and slowly walking away he automatically stops and runs back towards where I am going.
I have managed to have many a successful trip out and about doing different things with my small dude without a pram, and I have learn from my mistakes and tips from others how to make this possible.
I hope that these tips can help you in braving the dreaded outing pram free with your little ones and boost your confidence in doing so more regularly!
Have you braved your first outing pram free yet? Do you have any tips that have helped you that you can share?