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Family Biking: Strolling with a baby, rolling with a toddler

Noël and I on one of our strolls.

(We are thrilled to have our Family Biking columnist Shannon Johnson back in the fold after a few months of maternity leave!)

Let me introduce you to the newest member of our biking family: Felix Noël. He was born on December 28, 2021. (Remember that really snowy day after Christmas? Yep, that’s when he arrived!) We’ve had a good few months of rocking and cuddling, but I’m eager to get out riding again.

Felix and I haven’t been on the bike yet, and I definitely miss it. Meanwhile, my toddler loves the opportunity to ride his balance bike to the park, instead of taking his usual bakfiets ride, though I find supervising a toddler on a balance bike to be a new realm of parental stress. I know balance bikes are much beloved, but it gives my two-year-old a level of speed and independence that I’m not always ready for (see his happy little face below). I now spend our walks repeating, “stay right next to Mommy, wait, wait up, Mommy goes first, okay, good job, stay right next to Mommy,” (as I don’t want him rolling behind a car backing out of a driveway with limited visibility to see a two foot tall toddler). It’s a relief when we arrive at the playground and my little guy can finally “zoom” around on a carfree path. Maybe when I get back to riding I can tote the balance bike to the park and he can just enjoy car-free zooming. That would make us both happy!

(How do the rest of you balance bike lovers manage your speedy toddlers?)

For a less stressful stroll, I enjoy any opportunity to take baby-wearing walks with just Felix. I’m extremely excited about my baby-wearing rain jacket, which has a zip-in panel to accommodate a baby in a carrier. Prior to this, it could be tricky to figure out how to keep a baby dry in the rain and drizzle. A baby-wearing jacket is quite the upgrade from the typical strategy of zipping a baby into an oversized and ill-fitting husband coat. This is how we stroll at the moment.

How have the rest of you parents managed during the postpartum period? Did you walk more? Ride the bus? Drive around or just stay home? Did you enjoy slowing down, or did you go stir crazy? When did you get back on the bike?

Since I only began family biking last April, I’ve been surprised at how much I miss it, and how much a part of our lives it has become. My cargo bike is truly my favorite kid toting transportation option. It’s more fun than loading up the van, faster than walking, and easier for toting armloads of kid stuff. While we slowly walk our way through a pedestrian postpartum period, I can tell we’ll be back on the bike soon.

On that note, I’ve been working on a column about the “biking with baby” debate, so that’s something to look forward to.

In the meantime, we’re strolling and toddler rolling, dreaming about new bike adventures, preparing to give public transit another try, and signing our oldest up for bike camp: if you haven’t done so yet, now is the time! (Please post your fave summer bike camp in the comments, to spread the fun. My kiddo will be riding with WashCo Bikes Saddle Up Camp on the west side, and we’re stoked!). Until then, enjoy your rides.