First of all, yes, I harness my kids. You can call it a leash and joke about them being animals, but I will not take your bait. Their safety is way more important than your snide comments or looks. But wouldn't it be a bit nicer to try to understand the reasoning behind why someone like me might employ the help of a harness?
We are at the point where their safety when we are outside around cars, trains, people, dogs, just about anything, is a non-stop barrage of OH I HAVE TO GO RUN OVER THERE for them. And there are of two of them and one of me. I have 14-month-old twins and you can bet your ass I will do whatever I have to in order to keep them safe. If there is more than one adult around (without kids of their own to keep watch over) to help chase kids, that's one thing, but many times it's just one adult and two kids and until you've been there, I urge you to reconsider your judgment. Even if you HAVE been there and you have somehow split your body in two to run after two toddlers at the same time, you must be a superhero and good for you, but maybe cut me a break here, huh? We live in the city and I'm not going to keep them inside. They need to stretch their legs and explore all the things just like we do and yes, I'm a bit overprotective right now. I freely admit that. But I'm also not willing to risk them running into the street or heaven forbid the train tracks if I can help keep them safe, WHY WOULDN'T I?
Here are some great reasons I am pro-harness:
- When used as intended, they are a great tool for parents and caregivers. DON'T ABUSE THEM. This is a no-brainer, but these are small children. I think of the harness as back up. They are not a way for you to relax and not pay attention. Kids cannot be yanked and pulled all over the place. The harness should barely be noticeable by them and only really deployed if necessary. They should just be able to walk but know that there's a limit to how far they can go. This doesn't mean you don't have to keep working hard to follow and keep up with them. This is not a free pass for me as a parent in any way. I still have to run and bend and crouch and control and manage my children. Absolutely.
- When used responsibly, meaning along with teaching language, sign language and respect for what we tell them, it's a great tool for walking down the street together calmly. I talk with them about staying close to Mommy and not going in the street or close to the train tracks. I'm always talking to them because kids are so smart and pick up on everything from such an early age.
- Put them in a stroller you say. Hold them. Carry them in packs on your person. Have you had 14-month-olds? They aren't that fond of being contained in any way right now. And I'm not that fond of them screaming when they so desperately want to be out. They want to be out and about and that's a good thing. Strollers work for some situations, but to play outside is not always working right now. And how are strollers any better than harnesses when you think about it? They are both ways to keep you children safe and protected, so why the stigma with the harness?
- In the right situation where there are no streets and no dangers, sure I let them run free and they are safe. It's my job as a parent to govern what is safe territory and what isn't.
- They don't know how to walk in a straight line yet. OH LOOK AT THAT AND LOOK AT THAT AND LOOK AT THAT! That's all childhood beautiful wonderful curiosity. Why would I want to impede that? This way I can go along with them and enjoy everything instead of being anxious the entire time. I don't want my kids to only see Mommy being super worried all the time. This gives me freedom to really be in the moment with them.
- Impulse control. I'm sorry, but a kid seeing a car and waving hello, as my boy does all the time right now, is super cute, but also so dangerous as he lunges toward the car he's waving at. We are teaching boundaries and respecting what we say, but for now, safety comes first.
- They don't want to hold my hand all the time. Also, their little arms and shoulder sockets can get damaged if pulled too hard should the need arise to keep them close. I don't want to do that them. Many times we do walk hand and hand, but there are times they want to run, and I want to let them. Also, with a harness, both their hands are free to touch and feel and explore.
- Walking with two toddlers with anything else in your hands is damn near impossible. Try it.
- FOR THEIR SAFETY.
- I will take your stares and your judgement, but wouldn't it be better just to think, hey, she's doing the best she can with two little kids and I can respect that? I'm a mom who questions her abilities to keep my kids safe at times. I won't live in fear and I won't project that onto my kids if I can help it, so I use tools to help me. We all need help.
Put yourself in this situation. You are walking outside with your two 14-month-olds and the train signal starts blaring. There are cars and trains and also two dogs that we don't know out on the corner with their owners. Do you trust that your curious little kids are going to stand next to you? Will you be fraught with anxiety and just hope it all goes OK and you can do what needs to be done in time? OR do you just talk them through it with the safety of knowing that you have a protective measure against them running away in case of trouble and you can't react quickly enough. I'd rather have the reinforcements.
Walk a mile, people. Then let's talk. Parents out there - more support and less judgment. How bout it?
I give you the offending backpack harnesses -
Don't they seem miserable?
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