When You Have a Runner: 5 Tips to Survive the Race
When you have a runner, few things cause as much anxiety as putting your toddler down, on their own two feet, without restraint. Scenarios like knocked over displays and broken items or—a mom’s worst nightmare—them running into oncoming traffic go through your head.
When you have a runner, that’s just what you worry about. It’s not easy keeping up with a pint-sized sprinter, but understanding his developmental stage and feeling safe to explore his surroundings is still important. Since I refuse to use a toddler leash, I rely on a few other tricks to stay one step ahead. Here are five tips I’ve used to survive the race against my toddler boy.
Be observant of triggers: Of course, keeping our little ones safe from danger while running requires a tremendous amount of caution and observation. It feels like the second we take our eyes off them, they’ve run 100 feet away from us. Before you free your little marathoner to the ground, take stock of your environment and don’t shy away from anything that might peak their interest. Tell him, “Do you see that shelf of books? If you stay right here next to mommy while I pay, we can go look at the books next.”
Engage, engage, engage: My little guy roams off as soon as my attention is elsewhere. If my focus is on him, with an engaged tone, there is nowhere else he’d rather be. Stay engaged with your child—while at the park, walking through a store, etc.—and if you find you have to take your attention away for a quick moment, be on guard for a runaway baby.
Be quick!: While the obvious solution would be to keep your little one inside the confines of the shopping cart or stroller, that isn’t always possible or desirable. Make your shopping trips quick by planning them out beforehand. The longer your toddler is waiting on you, the more likely they’ll make a run for it.
Make it a game: Kids love an adventure! Make hand holding a special game that makes you and your toddler into an unbeatable superhero duo! Sing songs that require their input, prompting them to stick near by (our favorites are the classic “Wheels On The Bus” or “Old McDonald Had A Farm”). Practice “Red Light, Green Light”—the ultimate game for moms of runners.
Remember, it’s a phase: The one thing I constantly remind myself while sprinting after my running toddler is that this too shall pass. While exhausting on so many levels, toddlers are developmentally inclined to test boundaries and seek independence, which is a good thing for our long term goals of raising self-sufficient adults.
Even after these five tips that I use daily, I still keep my son’s clothes tagged with identifying information. Such as when we took our first trip to Disneyland as a family of four, I created a custom printable with all of his and our information in the terrifying event he ran away and got lost. And ultimately, I keep him in the stroller if we’re walking through large parking lots or in areas near lots of traffic. While I want him to explore his world and begin to find his independence from under mama’s wings, it’s still my responsibility to keep him safe.
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