I have a confession to make. I put my kids on leashes. I am unashamed. Judge away. If I had to pick two words to summarize my mommy motto, that would probably be it: “Judge Away.”
I see it in some people’s eyes when we’re out in public. I should know. I used to be one of those people. In my pre-kid days, I (silently) judged parents of little kids. After all, how difficult can it be to control one small human being? Is it really that impossible to keep most of your kid’s food on the table when dining out? Or, why on earth would you choose to have three kids under the age of three, AND have the audacity to take them out in public?
And then the karmic universe slapped me in the face. Fast-forward a few years, and I’m a busy single mom of not one, but two toddlers. I am outnumbered, over caffeinated, and generally overwhelmed most of the time. My standards for acceptable personal appearance and behavior have lowered drastically from my pre-kids days. This includes putting my kids on leashes. Judge Away.
Ok, I know the PC term is “child harness” or something, but let’s be honest here. They’re leashes. I have made a conscious decision. I spent $19.99 on Amazon. I put leashes on my children.
I like to rely on the “I have twins, cut me some slack” excuse. But If I were really honest, I would probably use leashes even if I had one child. In fact, I do use the leash when I have only one child with me.
Case in point: date day. I love both of my children, and they love each other, but sometimes I like to have one-on-one time. I call it date day. I drop one kid off with my mom for quality grandma time, and I take the other kid on a “mommy date.” The other weekend, I took my son, Sir. R, to a new bakery that opened on eat street in Minneapolis. For those not familiar – eat street is an area just outside of downtown Minneapolis with, you guessed it, restaurants.
Now, I don’t think this is a particularly dangerous area of town during the day, but I would classify it as borderline sketch when dining out with your two-year-old son. I didn’t want him bolting down the street. So, I brought along the leash.
It came in quite handy. I kept it around my wrist when paying for our cupcake in a jar and while sitting at the table. It served as a gentle reminder of how far away from mommy it is acceptable to wander – and I’m sure the other diners appreciated not having to share their dining experience with a toddler running around the restaurant.
I’m not saying that our leashed outings are always smooth sailing. After enjoying our carrot cupcake, Robert and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. All was well, until we came across a puddle. I had a hot cup of coffee in one hand and Robert’s hand in the other. As we approached the puddle, Robert leaned over to put his hands in the puddle.
Then the unimaginable happened. It was like slow motion. All at once, Robert with his hands still in the puddle, began to sit down. All at once, I saw him sitting down in a puddle of freezing dirty water. I simultaneously contemplated what to do with the hot coffee in my hand, as well as what the people across the street were thinking. In a split second, I made a decision. I pulled up on his harness, leaving him in a half-standing, half-suspended state over the puddle. It was too late. The damage was done. He was soaked. Mommy date day was over.
Ok, funny stories aside, I really am not ashamed about putting my kids on leashes. Not only do harnesses help keep the kids safe, but I also feel more comfortable letting them walk on their own (and therefore feeling more confident) without having to hold my hand or be carried in busy areas.
I do have a few ground rules:
- I don’t pull on the harness in order to get my child to go in a certain direction. They are children. Not pets.
- If the child pulling on the harness becomes an issue, we stop. I get down on their level, make eye contact, and explain why they need to stay with Mommy.
- We still hold hands when walking across parking lots or crossing the street. This is for safety, as well as to keep the habit of holding Mommy’s hand. I simply slip the tether’s loop around my wrist, and then hold my child’s hand.
- If they don’t want to hold my hand, the standard rules apply and they get carried. I always give a choice: “You can hold Mommy’s hand until we get inside, or I can carry you.”
So that’s it. Mommy confession time over. I’d love to hear your feedback on the use of harnesses! Please keep it positive and non-judgey 🙂