Why Buggy Shopping Made My Head Hurt

When did it get so complicated? Surely babies and small children have needed transporting from place to place for time immemorial? So why have they not yet found the ONE ultimate way of getting them from A to B that’s easy and comfortable, that keeps the tot safe and cosy and doesn’t exert undue pressure on the parent or their bank balance. Why all the widgets and digits that offer the world, but don’t quite fit the bill? (Not only can you plug in an MP3 with some, but I’ve seen one with a pre-installed DVD player should the environment around him/her by be stimulating enough. But then you have to buy essential things like a rain cover or footmuff as extras.) I spent the morning looking at buggy design after buggy design and my head was swimming. By the time I clicked the Purchase button my stomach felt sick at the money I’d just spent. Does it really have to be so hard? And so expensive?

I suppose the benefit of having a gestation period of 9 months is that parents can plan and save and there isn’t a last-minute scramble to get everything in place. The trouble with having a daughter only admit to a pregnancy 7 months in is that it doesn’t really give much time to plan.

Early on (well, early being relative, at least soon after her bump admission) I made a rash promise that she could have Noodles’ buggy. It made sense at the time. His had come as a travel system, so not only is it a toddler buggy, but also has many of those widgets that they make sound so necessary, but then barely see the light of day. Carry cot, car seat attachment, buggy board (and yet a hood that curiously doesn’t cover the child when sitting up, although luckily a rain cover was included and fairly useful, although I’ve yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t mind being encased in a plastic shield – obviously they don’t realise how lucky they are when, you, as parent, has had to relinquish the possibility of using an umbrella and so are exposed to all elements). Most now lay around the house only having been used temporarily so still in decent condition. It seemed silly to have them around without being used and buying a whole new kit. So E could have the current buggy and I’d buy a new, more basic version for Noodles.

Or, I thought, with a baby sling and the buggy board and Noodles happy to walk on his reins we could share. But after a few walks out buggy-free with Noodles I realised this wasn’t going to be an option. Everything takes forever and he does like to let his legs give way so that he has to be plucked into the air by his backpack straps before he hits the deck face first. He finds it hysterical. I find my wrist aches 10 minutes down the road. That and his ability to scream a shop down if he can’t lead the way round, which is, somehow intuitively always counter to the aisles you actually need to visit. Nothing like death stares from fellow shoppers to know that restraint and wheels are the preferable option.

Not to mention that re-configuring the buggy from pram to pushchair and back again is an almighty faff that usually results in the loss of flesh due to the various mechanisms involved. Not something I fancy facing on a daily basis.

I was going to need another buggy. How hard could it be?

Very, as it turned out.

Just logging on to a babyshop website I was faced with six options as to the TYPE of buggy I wanted: travel system, pram, buggy, stroller, twin, 3-wheeler. Errr…

Not a pram or travel system – I was on a roll, I could eliminate quickly and painlessly. This was going to be easy. Seeing as every time I’m in a queue in Mothercare I seem to be behind someone trying to get a refund on a shoddy stroller I discounted them too.

But then I got stuck.

What’s the difference between a buggy and a pushchair for a start? And did I want a single or a double? I shall be looking after the baby a fair bit, but will I need to take it out with me enough to need a double? Could I possibly just stay in the house and shop online until E finishes her exams at which point the baby, Noodles and I could emerge blinking, unaccustomed to sunlight? After all, it’s surely going to take an eternity to get a baby and a toddler simultaneously ready to go outside. Staying indoors would definitely be the easier answer.

But there’s the school run to do, baby gym to get to. The only stores in town that stock a decent range of baby products are actually out of town, but a trip that’s easier to do by walking than it is to drive and then get Noodles out of the car, into a trolley, out of the trolley, back into the car and then not find a space to park near the house, so finally a walk juggling shopping with toddler. Add a baby into the juggling act? Yep, I’m going to need wheels for them both.

But do I want the burden of a cumbersome double buggy if it’s mostly just Noodles? I couldn’t wait to bin the twins’ double buggy, its stretch limo design of one in front of the other making it impossible to manoeuvre around corners with 3-point turns required frequently in shops. Looking, the budget end offered very similar contraptions. I couldn’t do that again.

Side-by-side could be cute, with Noodles babbling away to his nephew. But pushing one around with just Noodles in it would be weird, wouldn’t it? But the biggest sticking point was that a side-by-side buggy wouldn’t get through our gate or front door. The logistics of having to seperately unload two children on the pavement then collapse the buggy to get it inside. It would end in me one side of the door and two children the other, wouldn’t it, either through a random gust of wind or a mischievous pair of toddler hands?

But I had a friend who had raved about her Phil and Ted’s buggy – one of those where it looks as though one of the children is riding in the shopping basket. I’d not really seen the appeal in them before – hardly the most amazing view for the child sat in the back. But it converts easily from a single to a double and back again and is far less cumbersome than the double alternatives.

But the prices! Phew! Ok, reasonable compared with the £1600 Stokke (my CAR only cost a fraction more!) but still not far removed from a monthly mortgage payment. I couldn’t justify it, could I? I looked for similar makes, for earlier models, for discounts. Which is when my head truly started to spin. How can the same thing come in so many permutations, at so many prices? Can I trust eBay? It would be my luck to get the dodgy seller. Or the ones I liked the look of needed picking up from the other side of the country. Would I then be easily able to get any attachments easily if I got an earlier model? Or will the manufacturers cunningly adjust things ever so slightly so the the old will be obsolete whilst New doesn’t quite fit? I’m losing the will to live, trawling through option after option and decide to buy new from a trusted website. I entered by details and hit the tab and my stomach lurched. I’d found a decent deal, but it was still over budget. Husband can’t possibly find out how much I’ve paid (same as I did with my wedding dress, same as I do with just about anything I buy). Hopefully he won’t notice we’re eating a lot of beans on toast over the next month.

But at least it’s done. It arrives on Monday. May I never have to do it again.

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