Just Keep it Simple: The Umbrella Stroller

Most of the advice I received when I was expecting was rubbish. Aside from maybe an illness, there’s nothing like a pregnancy to bring out unsolicited advice. Expecting multiples? Expect the amount of advice you receive to multiply. Beware the sentence that begins, “when I was pregnant,” and walk away even faster when the sentence begins, “when my wife was pregnant.” When you hear that phrase, you’re about to receive unsolicited advice from the middleman.

Still, sometimes good advice does emerge. I’ve noticed it has more of a chance to emerge when it’s asked for, and it has more of a chance to emerge when it’s disguised as a discussion instead of a lecture. A discussion—where two people make comments, then questions and statements bounce back and forth between those two people almost equally. When this state is reached, good advice can be great. Of course, when you receive that advice, you’re not in the position at that point to discern that it is good advice. You can only figure that out years later, when you look back and think about what worked and what didn’t.

Here is the advice I received that was worth almost all the other advice: keep things simple. Oh, and is that ever hard advice for a new mom to follow! “Just keep it simple,” my triplet mom mentor said when I asked what kind of stroller worked best. Before I approached her, I’d spent internet hours looking at triplet strollers (you know, those hours that Google right by us when we’re looking for a small answer to a tiny, troubling question and realize that we’ve been on the computer all night). “Those things are expensive,” she said, “and it will take up a lot of space in your garage, and before long, you won’t be able to push three babies at once anyhow.” She explained to me that my life was about to become focused on acquiring, hauling and utilizing gear. Gear of all sorts: gear to transport babies in cars, gear to transport babies on sidewalks, gear to get babies to sleep, gear to get babies to poop, gear to get babies to be quiet, gear to stimulate babies, gear to feed babies, gear to bathe babies, gear to warm babies up, gear to prop babies up and gear to swing babies back and forth. “When you’re not sure what gear to buy—go with the lightest and least expensive. You will be broke, and you will be tired of lifting gear. Get an umbrella stroller,” she said.

I got a hand-me-down umbrella stroller from a coworker that fit two babies, and a hand-me-down stroller from a friend that fit one baby. When I needed to go out on my own, I used the double umbrella and put the third baby in a baby carrier backpack.

For many months, going out of the house was so difficult that we barely used strollers at all. By eight or nine months, it was hard for me to push even the double stroller.  The just-keep-it-simple advice doesn’t make for great conversation with other moms: “hey, get an umbrella stroller, it’s cheap and it’s light.” Then again, like most unsolicited advice, it should probably be kept out of the conversation altogether.

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