Thursday, 21 February 2013

Today I got a buzz

It will be news to no one that when choosing a pram or stroller, there is an almost infinite number of options available. Everyone has their own criteria, likes and dislikes, and luckily there is pretty much something to suit everyone. Size matters, some are big, some small. Some are the size of refrigerators and need their own generator. Some look like umbrellas, others resemble tanks and are often driven accordingly! Some look like spaceships and others like office chairs. Some are engineering and ergonomic marvels while others are practical failures. They can be bulky, flimsy, cute, opulent or just plain ugly...


This is the Stokke, some people consider them the ultimate in style.
I'm sorry, I just don't see it.
Like most families, over the years we've tried a range of options for baby/child transport, and sometimes we've even felt like we got it right. Other times, due to a range of circumstances, I've been underwhelmed with our pram/stroller situation, and have found myself playing the "if only" game.

You know the one, "If only I had a ....(insert pram/stroller of choice)...life would be so much easier!"

But is this ever really true? I should say that due to a range of reasons (the main one being financial), I have NEVER walked in to a baby shop and pointed at the sleekest, snazziest pram of my dreams and said "It doesn't matter what it costs, I'll take it". One high end pram comes with a material swatch book for custom designed covers and seats etc. I love this concept. But is it worth the cost of a small lounge suite, when something a tenth of the price could do just as good a job of um holding your baby?

Our pram/stroller history goes something like this: Almost ten years ago, when Jesse was born, some wonderful friends from church invited us over to their home and produced a literal treasure trove of baby goods - all for us to take home if we wanted too. As clueless first-time parents-to-be we were so thankful for their invaluable advice and generosity! Their large Emmaljunga pram caught my eye. It had hardly been used. If you know anything about these Swedish-made marvels, they are big and strong. I never could have afforded one new. I loved its regal navy blue canopy, snug surrounds, padded seat, sheepskin lining, and boot muff. It was fabulous. My only issue was the basket underneath (a fabric one) was way too small. And while the steel frame and large wheels weighed a tonne, you felt confident your baby would be protected from nuclear blasts in that pram.

When Eleanore came along seventeen months later, I had the toddler seat ready (came with the pram) and that worked quite well until the weight of the pram together with a two and a half year old and baby made pushing the thing almost impossible. One day while walking to the park, the steel frame had a partial collapse (so yes, it was overloaded) and while we were able to get it fixed, I didn't like to risk weighing it down too much again.

Next came a side-by-side double pram with huge baskets underneath. A generous gift from a cousin of mine. I didn't have a driving licence at the time, so this pram was invaluable when making my regular walks with a toddler and baby to and from the local supermarket, laden with supplies. I pretty much drove that pram in to the ground.

When Miriam arrived two years after Eleanore I was still in need of a double pram, but thankfully was also driving a car! I wanted something light (for lifting in and out of the car) and easy to manoeuvre. I looked up on line reviews before deciding the italian made Peg Perego Aria would suit me best. This side-by-side fitted through standard doorways and trolley aisles, and was remarkably light. I found a used one going relatively cheap on the Trading Post and my Mum gave it to me as a present. It wasn't any good as an off-road pram, but that suited me fine. I was happy.

When Ellie got bigger I switched to a single stroller for Mim that my mother-in-law had bought years before. The fabric was lairy, and the frame was awkward. I was forever getting my skin nipped in the latches as I collapsed it.  It was a relief when we no longer needed to use it.

When Arch came along four years later, my practical voice (which mostly takes the form of my husband's voice, strangely enough) said that there was no point buying anything new or fancy.

This Cath Kidston patterned Maclaren
has always made me swoon!
But I was obsessing about a new style of pram. The Quinny Buzz. It had special features like a gas spring for automatic unfolding, and a carry cot for new borns that clicked into the frame when being used and out to carry around without having to wake the baby! I looked at them in the shops. I stopped people in the street who had one to ask about them. I spent hours looking on ebay, in an effort to pick up one at a bargain price (they retail for around $800 and I wasn't considering paying for one new)
http://www.quinny.com
 
In the end, I didn't find the bargain quinny. Its size meant that it would be hard to fit into our car, and anyway, my cousin had kindly offered me her well-used but well-designed Maclaren stroller. It was one of the standard grey ones (what's with Maclaren and all that grey? The Cath Kidston patterned ones are rare, but so lovely!). So that's what we used. Arch was fine with it, and so was I.

So you'll never guess what I saw today at one of my favourite op shops?
Yes, a Quinny Buzz. Complete with baby carry cot, an extra seat cover, rains covers, bug covers, all sorts of bits and pieces. It looked used but well cared for. This op shop is in a huge warehouse, but I saw that Quinny Buzz in about my first 30 seconds. I had to try hard not to punch the air.

After all. I didn't NEED a new/old stroller/pram...

I sat Arch up in the seat, just to see if he fitted. Uh oh. He did. And he liked it.
I walked around the entire warehouse a couple of times taking deep breaths and trying to think this through clearly.
I'll ask how much it is. If they want $100 for it, I'll leave it. It will still be a bargain for whoever can use it.
The lady said it was available for the cost of a donation. Legally they can no longer sell prams, due to health and safety regulations. Seems silly doesn't it?
I know, if it doesn't fit in the car, I won't take it.
After getting a girl in the shop to google the quinny website for me, as we couldn't work out how to collapse it, I did manage to fit it into the car.
Sigh. Some things are just meant to be.


I took the quinny home. My husband was predictably horrified. "I thought you were trying to declutter?" he asked. "That means getting rid of things. Besides Arch is two!"
"I know Arch is two. Yes I am trying to declutter, mostly. I just need to get this pram out of my system." I muttered. I really always wanted one of these...
Hmm, it is proving a challenge to store. So large, so many pieces.
Perhaps after four kids, the pram of my dreams won't prove to be that in reality at all.
But that's okay. I'll use it for a little while, and then re-gift it to someone who needs a pram and maybe doesn't have the means to pay for something this good, like me all those years ago with Emmaljunga!
I hope it will give them a real buzz!



If you are looking for a stroller/pram/buggy here's a few helpful tips:
  • Read lots of online reviews to get a good overall picture of the issues with that item. You may find out things that will immediately rule it in or out for you.
  • Try the prams out in shops, even ones you never would have thought of to try otherwise - you might find that you like something completely different to what you were looking for.
  • Be realistic. The amount of expensive single prams for sale on ebay because a year later a double is needed, proves that it's not always wisest to spend up so big on something that will soon prove inadequate for your family's needs.
  • Ask friends/family/people in the street for their experiences/recommendations - though beware of those insisting what they have used is best for you too. That is almost never true.
  • Get perspective. Having children involves many costs, and spending up big on a pram may be kind of silly when cheaper options will do just as well. Believe me, you'll need the money for other things later on...like kid-free holidays! ha ha, that's a JOKE people!

4 comments:

  1. Ah Sarah! totally get it! love the comment you have to get it 'out of your system'...can only imagine J's look when you said that! ;o) In between baby 2 & 3 I bought a sling -- had never been in to them, preferred the more practical Baby Bjorn, but saw one at a direct selling party in the most amazing paisley fabric, so I HAD to have it, despite funds being tight etc, well, Sam didn't seem to like being all aquished in there and I wasn't used to using it, so tried it a few times. Plus is was quite pink really. But I kept it, and tried again with Leah, cause it was just so gorgeous...but again, used it twice and that was it. Alas, I loved it for what it looked like, not its usefulness, like so much of the stuff we like I guess. Lovely to find you here, Lara x

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    1. Thanks Lara, can relate to your sling experiences. I used a BBjorn for Jesse but he was too heavy for me after about 2mths. I didn't bother for #s 2 and 3. But discovered the peanut sling for #4 (fabulous fabrics and gr8 for boy babies!) which was one of my best used baby items ever! sorry yours didn't work out - i would have bought it too on account of the pink paisley - we live and learn! :-)

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  2. This made me LOL. We have been through about eight prams (my husband knows that number well, it is a bit more fuzzy to me). I have never walked into the shop and bought the pram of my dreams. Now, seven kids later (counting the kids we have fostered), I imagine I should have. I am sure I have payed nearly that amount in second hand prams on eBay, Craigslist, and gumtree. And now, I am driving a worn out Maclaren I received on Freecycle. Glad you got your buzz!

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    1. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who has taken a slightly haphazard approach to the whole pram thing. In retrospect we might have done it differently, but hey, that would probably not be near as entertaining! :-)

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