Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pushing it: the stroller post

I am not a stroller person. I don't know why; maybe it has something to do with the fact that Bean never liked them and much preferred to be worn while the stroller served no greater use than an expensive shopping cart. (New babywearing post coming soon, by the way. I've shed some old carriers and gotten some new squishy loves!) Anyway, to me a stroller is a necessary evil, like taxes, Spanx, and pretending to be impressed by the "amazing play" your husband rewinds to show you while he is watching sports on television.

With Bean, we went simple and our choices suited our family perfectly. I had a single basic frame stroller when he was an infant, so we could pop out his car seat and put it in the frame without disturbing him. It was simple, light, and utilitarian. Not so attractive, but honestly I find those "travel systems" to be hideous as well as bulky and heavy.

When he outgrew the infant seat, we transitioned to the Maclaren Triumph. (Wow, this post is riveting already, isn't it?)

Anyway, this is a great stroller, in my opinion. Again light and easy to use, but this time a bit more stylish. My only complaint is that it doesn't have any cup holders. I need two: one for my decaf nonfat iced mocha with no whip, and the other for the maple bar that I wasn't able to didn't even try to resist. If my drink has nonfat milk with no whip, the donut balances it out, right?

Now we have three kiddos under the age of three. It's absolutely critical that we have a good stroller -- or two? Not only for simple transportation, but also to haul our ginormous diaper bag and other sundries.

Right now we use the double version of the simple frame stroller. We went to a twins meeting recently; there were 11 other families and 11 other of these strollers. It's hard not to get this stroller if you are welcoming twins into your family.

But now the twins are getting older, and it's time to think past the infant car seats.

One obvious option is the double version of the Maclaren stroller I liked with Bean:

But I'm not entirely ready to pull the trigger on this purchase. Still no cup holders on this model, and with all these munchkins, my desire for coffee and donuts has now become a survival necessity. And I'm afraid this lightweight umbrella style will be crushed by our overwhelming traveling circus.

Here are my concerns and needs.

* Price. I am willing to spend a decent amount of money because I think it's worth it, and I can always search Craigslist if my perfect stroller is on the expensive side. But the $800+ ones are right out.

* Size. It *must* fit in my minivan without folding or removing seats. This is why I have a minivan, so everything in the world will fit inside easily. It's not because of its speed and maneuverability, obviously.

* Weight. I prefer a light stroller. Some of these double strollers weigh more than I do. I'm not a bodybuilder here, people.

* Convenience. Easy to open and close, as I might be holding a child. Also convenience of diaper bag storage, as large and accessible as possible.

* Comfort. I want my kids to be comfortable, and the ride to be relatively smooth. We will mainly be on hard floors (the mall) and paved walkways (the neighborhood sidewalk, the zoo, walking trails at the park, etc.).

* Style. I'm not a fashion plate by any stretch of the imagination. But not ugly, please. Also, I think I prefer the side-by-side. I'm ready to ditch the super-long in-line stroller, plus then the twins can interact. (Yes, I am still naive enough to think interaction will be a good thing.) (And the Phil & Ted's strollers seem so cruel to the lower twin, don't they? Makes too obvious who your least favorite is.)

To boil it down, my questions:

Can I get away with one stroller? Bean will most likely not ride in one, so I don't want to invest in a huge 3-kid stroller that I will hardly ever use. I will also still have the single Maclaren stroller, of course, that DH or my parents can push if we all go out together and need three seats.

If I only get one, do I need a more heavy duty stroller (e.g. a jogging stroller) as opposed to the deluxe umbrella stroller? I'm probably definitely not going to be jogging with it, but I will be hard on whatever stroller I get.

Is there a stroller you would recommend? Does this Holy Grail of strollers exist?



Michele said...

Okay... So... I'm going to sound nuts... But I have four strollers. Bobby and Maya each have an umbrella stroller that I bought primarily for our trip to TN, since I didnt want to have to take our larger strollers and take up so much room. They were great, and I have connectors that I can use if I need to make them one giant stroller. I use them as my "car" strollers, mostly. I can wear one baby and push one, or two people each push one baby.

I have a jogging stroller so I can practice for triathlons and 5k's. I really REALLY want a BOB, but they are out of the budget right now, so I have a Baby Trend. It's okay and works for what I need it for, and it was only $100 on Craiglist.

My "real" double stroller is a Graco Duoglide. It works GREAT! It was about $150, and worked with the infant carseats. It doesnt weigh all that much, I can lift it into the back of Volvo XC90 easily (and it fits even if I have my third row seats up), and best of all, I can handle an entire week's worth of groceries in the bottom when I walk to the supermarket.

Stephanie Faris said...

Cool! There are so many choices. Oddly, I just read a blog about bulletproof strollers. Seems to me if someone has a need for that, she needs to question where she's hanging out!

Stef said...

Loved this post. I have an weird obsession with strollers, because like you, I hate them. However its more me than my kids, because all 3 of our kids have loved the stroller. But, I seem to not be able to find one I love, go figure. I think I'd love the McLaren, we've just not owned one... yet.

I do love joggers. If you can find one that folds nicely, you may love it. I think I like how you can really rough those up and they don't show it as soon as a regular stroller will.
Graco has been good for us - I like that the Graco people seem to understand a Mom's need to cargo and cup holders, cell phone holder and key slot.

My friends in California all loved the Peg Peregos, but I never did understand the big craze with those. We bought one, ended up hating it and after a few weeks, returned it. Plus they're super pricey.
Most of my friends here use the Bob or Phil 'n' Teds but I know both of those are super pricey. They all do seem pretty amazing though :)

Mrs. Spit said...

Can I make a suggestion? Find one that fits through a normal door. They are a bit more narrow, and won't wipe out passing pedestrians, cars, fire hydrants, the neighbour's dogs.

The joggers seems to be an absolute nightmare in public. I know that my small toe STILL hasn't recovered from the mum who wasn't paying attention and darn near took me out.

Mary said...

We have a Combi Tandem double stroller, it fits the bill of semi-lightweight (its 26 pounds), folds easily (I can do it one handed), easy to manuever, and has a cup holder. The only downside is that the kid in the back seat doesn't have a snack tray but we solved that problem with snack traps. We have gotten by with that and a single umbrella stroller for when we only had one kiddo out. I really wanted to get a Combi side by side though in addition to what we have but my dh nixed it. Its very similiar to the MacClaren Double, not sure about the cup holder.

The other stroller I've heard good things about that might be good for 3 is the joovy sit and stand, I think they make it in a double. It has 2 seats for the littles and a 3rd spot for Bean to sit or stand in the back. Not sure how lightweight it is though. . .

I'm not much of a stroller person these days, we only use ours for big trips like the zoo but in the twinfant stage we used the Combi Tandem ALL the time.

Sarah said...

I love babywearing - ERGO Carrier is my favorite!!! But I cannot see how people can live without strollers! The BOB, it's SUPER heavy and is like driving a Hummer down the sidewalk. BUT, I still love it!!! I haven't even tried to fit it in the trunk of my car. I think I'd have to take all the wheels off, but I have a tiny commuter car. We walk it to the park a lot, on trails, errands, to the pool, and on our long walks at the greenway. It also has a high weight limit. You can get them for a somewhat tolerable price twice a year at REI when they have them on sale with the 20% off coupon (but I got mine on Craigslist). I figure even the second round resale will be pretty well received so we should get some money back. I also have the Phil and Teds (amazing clearance at REI) and oddly enough, the kiddos fight over the bottom seat because it's like a little fort. It fits well in the trunk of my car but takes some time to put together and take apart etc (sucks when it's raining). The weight limit on the bottom is only 31lbs so that's why we already had to start looking for another stroller. Nice thing though, it fits in all the doorways, you can use it as a single, and we can use it again with another infant. Georgie used to like to wrap his little fingers around the wheel guard - freaked me out until I tightened him up a bunch so he could no longer reach. My friend loves the Peg Preggo because it is quite narrow and has cupholders. It's lightweight, but is sturdier than an umbrella stroller. So I'd get one good stroller and two umbrella strollers with connectors for those quick in and out trips. I'll ask a friend with older twins what she suggests too. My experience obviously is on two children - different ages, different sizes etc. Despite having a BOB too, my sister primarily uses her hand-me-down Graco! You've got a big enough car, it may be the way to go. Good luck! Looking forward to what you discover! REMEMBER EBAY is a good purchasing place too!!! I wish I could get rid of some to get some cashola and space, but who knows...could be another in the future...

strongblonde said...

we have two: 1) a baby jogger city classic that we got on ebay (new) for under 400 including shipping. it has an attachment that holds all kinds of things. super comfy for the kids, a dream to push, and air filled tires. plus you can make the front ones fixed or swivel depending on what you're doing. 2) a peg perego aria twin. we got it on ebay used. it is 13 lbs and folds flat. we use it for our "car" stroller since it barely takes up any room. the basket underneath is HUGE. it also has two snack trays.

both fit through standard doorways and have been all around our town. :)

Chad and Gena said...

Baby Jogger City Mini
- Fits through standard door ways
- Super easy to maneuver
- Awesome Sun Shades
- Easy to close
- Light weight but doesn't feel flimsy
- You can add a parent tray that has a cup holder but cost extra
- The twins love to reach around the little divider and play w/each other...interaction is a very good thing. It is so fun to watch them 'love' on each other :-)
- The storage basket is probably the biggest downfall but it is adequate for us.

I absolutley LOVE this stroller :-)

It is not a true jogger but does will off pavement as well as in stores. You just cant jog w/it.

We bought a Bob for jogging but I don't think you necessarily need 2 strollers if you don't plan on jogging outdoors w/your little ones.

I think you can easily get away w/one stroller I just personally wouldn't want my only stroller to be a jogging stroller they tend to be a bit bulkier.

Aisha said...

So many options! OMG! I have a snap-n-go right now and plan to get a regular umbrella stroller after, and I agree- a cup holder is essential.

I have no real advice but I laughed out loud at the fact that your spouse also rewinds "amazing" sports plays for you to watch. I also act astounded and amazed.

Boys. Sheesh.

(and my word verification was herman. That's just weird)

MrsSpock said...

My twin mom friends recommend the Combitwin, as it is narrow enough to fit in a doorway and easier to maneuver.

Sarah said...

From my friend with 2 year old twins and an older daughter:
Stroller-wise, most moms of multiples prefer side by side strollers. the most widely used ones are the Combi Twin and Peg Perego Aria. A lot of moms love their Duoglider tandems. I had one just for tight stores like Kohls, but I still prefer my side by side for everyday use. I have a Baby Jogger City Mini Double.

Jamie said...

We have the Jeep Wrangler Double Umbrella. It was cheap, folds up very small, and fits in my car easily. We like it and it works well.

We also have the Graco quatro double. Unfortunately, the Jeep Double doesn't fit through all doors. It is quite a bit larger, but still fits in my car.

Then I have the Valco Baby with toddler seat so I can take them all for walks in our neighborhood. A blog friend sent it to me used. I love it!! But, it doesn't come anywhere close to fitting in my car and wouldn't meet your needs if the Bean won't ride in it.

Let us know what you end up deciding!

~ Kristen said...

Ok another option but it limits you in another way is to have two strollers (thus assuming you only use them Both then when you are out with two adults pushing...unless bean is super good at it ;)

Do like the first one you mentioned and then one like

I love our Caboose by Joovy cup holder and cell phone pouch or donut holder, and a spot for Wyatt who hates strollers to stand or sit... always another option. They have a triple but haven't heard anything about it.

Denise said...

Sorry if this is redundant as I haven't taken the time to read all the comments before me. I love our Combi Twin Sport. We started with the tandem snap 'n go and then moved to the Combi when they were sitting up. It is light enough for me to lift easily into the car (and I'm a petite one), folds easy (although you do need two hands) and maneuvers great. I've never had an issue getting it through a doorway, although some stores don't have wide enough aisles between the racks (but not usually an issue, usually in stores that you don't want your kids in anyway).

It doesn't have a cup holder for you, but you can always buy one separately that snaps onto the frame. There is a bar that goes across the kids with little cup holders, but we use them for snacks as they aren't very big. I like that the push bar is just that, a bar, and not two separate handles. It works great snapping a diaper bag onto. The storage underneath is also pretty roomy. We do have a separate cheap umbrella stroller for when one of us takes just one of the kids. And we just bought a light weight "travel system" for the new baby and we're using the old car seat so it won't even match, but who cares.

Also, if you have Babies 'r Us in your area, periodically they do trade in events where you can bring in an old stroller (or crib, etc.) and get a good discount on a new one (similar item or from another category). We traded in our snap 'n go for the stroller we just got for the baby.