How old is too old for a buggy? Three? Four? FIVE?
As parents, we try not to judge others. We usually fail. Yes, even you. Go on, admit it. Especially when it comes to those who push their healthy, strapping, four-year-old children around in buggies. See, there you go – I'm judging. And if you're not, you're probably judging me instead.
I'm not the only one who disapproves – hundreds of commenters have lined up to judge mums who featured in a recent Daily Mail article.
These mums choose to push their kids from A to B in buggies – even when some of the children are school-age. They also chose to tell the Daily Mail all about it, which is possibly an even less sensible lifestyle choice, but there you go.
Their reasons? It's easier, it's quicker, it's less hassle, their children have tantrums when they're asked to walk...
So, in case we're in any doubt about this, here's what's wrong with carting your school-children around in a pushchair:
1. It's cutting corners on a huge scale.
It's also easier to let your kids watch TV all day then to actually engage with them. It's easier to let them eat biscuits and crisps than to cook them a healthy meal. It's easier to give in to a tantrum and let them play with your iPad all afternoon than to take them to the park. That doesn't mean it's a good thing.
2. The 'I don't care what other people think' attitude.
Taking a pride in your parenting skills and having the confidence to do things your way is one thing. But this is true EastEnders style 'This is my child and I'll do what I like with it' stuff. It's the kind of attitude that leads to parents storming the school gates to rant and rave at the teacher who dared put their precious little Harry in detention because he 'expressed himself' by thumping the smallest kid in the class.
3. It's making laziness a lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong – I'm all for making life easier for yourself as a parent. Parenting is hard. Every now and then, if it's raining, and I need to go to the shops, I'll throw the kids into the car and drive to the supermarket, then push both of them round in the trolley. I know this is lazy. But it's not something I do every day.
4. It teaches your children that easy is good.
That if something is tough, you just don't do it. Why bother walking when someone can push you? Why bother working hard at school when your mum will support you? Why bother getting a job when you can live on benefits?
5. If you don't have time for your children, do something about it.
Learning to walk from A to B is a fascinating journey for small children. Make time to slow down and do things at their pace. Even if you can't do that every day. If you need more time to get out of the house in the morning, get up earlier. Leave the house earlier. Not everything in life has to be done at break-neck speed. I'm talking to myself here as much as to anyone else...
These extreme Daily Mail examples aside, though, I can see how easily parents can slide down the slippery slope. Our eldest daughter hated the buggy – she was in a baby carrier until a year old and then walked most of the time. Our younger daughter, however, loves her buggy and always has. It's convenient – especially when we have to get her sister to school and her to nursery at pretty much the same time.
But she will be three in October and the niggling voice has started... when should we ditch the buggy? Am I already being judged for pushing her around in it? And what do I do with all my shopping when I can't hang it on the handles...?
When did you ditch the buggy? Was it a battle? Any tips to share?
More on Parentdish: Walking veerrrrryy slowly with a toddler