My last weekend was terrible. I didn’t sleep enough, worked a lot and couldn’t take advantage of the beautiful weather. Finally on Sunday I managed to do something for me! One day of the weekend is something you cherish much more than regular two days. You finally get rid of your chores and find some time for pleasure. You put your laptop away, at least for one day and have time for the ones you love. the weather is as it should be: hot, sunny, no risk of rain or storm. The conditions are perfect, so we decide to go ride our bikes!
… Ok, the conditions weren’t completely perfect since it was a bit too hot. But we worked it out as well!
Riding a bike with a little child.Is it worth it? Is it comfortable? When to start? How many km can you go before an energetic 2 or 3-year old starts getting rebellious.? What to take, how to prepare without taking a huge backpack with you? It’s all here! 🙂
WHEN AND HOW TO START?
We took our first bike trip together shortly after Maks turned 1. I guess it’s the moment when most of the parents start their bike adventures. However, I read somewhere that physiotherapists recommend waiting until the child turns 18 months since before that its amortisation mechanisms do not work so well – plainly speaking it’s more shaky and bumpy for a little one. I won’t turn back the time, so just consider it if you haven’t started riding a bike yet. And if you already did, tell me how it looked at the start?
The main problem before our first trip was: a baby chair or a little trailer? I don’t feel too competent on this subject but we decided to buy a chair. There were two important reasons to do it. First, quite important: where will I keep this trailer?? It’s quite big and there’s no cellar or locker at my house. What will I do with it in the winter? Keep it in the parking lot and wait until somebody steals it? And what if we want to take our bikes to Suwalszczyzna for instance? How will I fit it in the trunk next to suitcases, Maks’ bed and pram etc. We also thought that Maks will see more from the baby chair, the trip will be more interesting for him and he’ll not complain that much which will make our bike journeys more fun. Also ,we didn’t plan long distance bike trips where you ride more than a dozen kilometres a day for a few days in a row. Just occasional weekend trips or short rides during the week. Baby chair seemed like a perfect choice. I guess a trailer would work better on longer trips or with two kids on board. Copenhagen has the best ideas regarding that. I guess that the whole city rides a bike!
Off we go! We went to Moravia in Czech Republic and rode 50 km with Maks on our first day! (Maks took it good, but I almost died!) He loved the first trip! He didn’t complain or cry. He admired the views or slept. Back then we used to give him the comforter for the ride, as we did while driving the car.
Even though he liked it (and we did too) we didn’t start riding on a daily basis, not even every second day. We ride from time to time. During the week, we’re usually too busy to organise a trip together, and we don’t spend all weekends in Warsaw. We ride recreationally, even though Łukasz would like to get more sporty and I often get shouted at for my low speed 🙂 But my example shows that riding a bike with a kid is an activity for everyone, not only for the sporty ones.
If you ever wondered if the child likes riding a bike and that’s what prevents you from doing it, there’s no better way to check it out than buying a baby chair/trailer and going for a ride. Our 3-year old likes the bike so much that he even asks to ride it if we don’t do it for a while! I guess that he likes the idea of moving around fast, watching the world and still being close to his dad so he can say or communicate something every time he feels like it. It was yet another doubt regarding the trailer – it’s not a problem with a little one since he does not speak too much and I will surely hear him crying!. But the older one? Will I hear him if he wants to pee? 🙂
HOW TO PREPARE AND WHAT TO TAKE TO MAKE THE TRIP SUCCESSFUL?
What do you need to take for a bike trip? Not much if you travel around Warsaw and its surroundings. We always try to pack only the important stuff and eliminate all the things we won’t use. I never understood the idea of carrying a large bag full of “stuff” just because you have a child on you. I didn’t even buy a pram bag! We usually ride a bike when it’s warm/hot and we take:
1) a helmet for Maks – most important thing. Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing to be “afraid of”: most kids tent to like their helmets, and you can buy one with Hello Kitty or other creatures for bigger fun 🙂
2) water for Maks –preferably in a water bottle, that will keep it cool in the heat
3) water for us
4) antibacterial gel to wash hands (a tiny pack)
5) a sweater/overall if you plan to get back in the evening (you move and sweat but the kid does not)
6) a wallet, cell phone, keys, lipstick and all other things you usually keep in your purse – I put t to my waist bag so it’s all easily reachable
7) I sometimes take a little snack for Maks – convenient to eat and store. Something like “Bakuś kieszonka” – no need to wash your hands or get off the bike. A quick energy boost for the little one as well a treat for his first hunger.
8) wet wipes – a little pack – I lately forgot about that and “begged” more precautious mothers for it 😉 thanks girls!
9) sunscreen for kids – essential if it’s sunny and the temperature reaches 30 degrees! For us it’s enough to put the sunscreen on before we go, because both Maks and us do not have a tendency to get sunburns. But if the child has fragile skin, keep a little tube with you so you can put some more on during the day. PS. I got great tan on my back when I rode my bike last Sunday! 🙂
That’s all! I can’t imagine riding a bike in 30 degrees heat with a bike backpack on so we put water and all the rest to the cotton bag and placed it on the handlebars. As you can see, there’s no need for dedicated devices for storage and if it’s “Where will I pack the kid’s stuff?” that keeps you from going, fear not :). A professional and charming basket in the front of your bike looks great and we’ll probably buy one in the future, but if you don’t have one, it’s not a problem!
Did my stash change as Maks grew ? Back then I also took a comforter and some lunch/dessert in a jar with me so I didn’t have to look for a restaurant appropriate for a little child. Right now, Maks can find something for him pretty much everywhere.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TRIP SO THAT EVERYBODY – YOU AND THE CHILD – IS SATISFIED?
For most of the parents the answer to that question is easy: the kid can’t get bored. Ride a little, run around the park (preferably with other kids around), ride some more, take a break at the playground, ride again and have lunch (preferably outside or in a children’s friendly restaurant), ride a little, run some more, visit another playground or your friend. That’s how our Sunday looked like: playground on Mokotowskie Fields, meeting with my friend, fun on some kind of fair, Breakfast on the Grass event, friends, lunch break, a visit at our friend’s house. There was a nap too. The bike, like the car, makes the child go sleepy. Not that much nowadays, since now Maks prefers to watch the world around instead of sleeping. When he falls asleep, I get mad as his head tilts from one side to another. It’s a bit better if we move the chair to sleeping position, but it’s always best to stop and let him sleep peacefully with no bumps coming from a damaged pavement.
We spent the whole Sunday riding our bikes – from 12 to 22. We made 30 km and everybody got home satisfied! 🙂 We wish you could spend days like these as often as possible! If you want to ride your bikes more, in a foreign country for instance, in some beautiful surroundings, take part in NIVEA’s lottery! Buy NIVEA cosmetics for at least PLN 20 (that’s nothing!:)) and you will get the chance to win precious stuff! Among others, PLN 10 000 vouchers for vacation for the whole family! Also some cameras and cosmetics bundles. For details visit www.nivea.pl. 😉
PS. We never ride the streets with our child – of there’s no bike route, we choose the pavement. I prefer to get pedestrians’ wry faces than encounter a road maniac!
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