What Happens When You Take A Small Child To A Big City

March 2016, The Aussie, the Kid and I traveled to Melbourne, Australia, to spend three glorious weeks visiting family and friends. I planned everything out. I over thought everything. I over-packed like a crazed mother crossing the world with her son for the first time. (I was!) I thought I thought of everything.


I never once thought about the fact that big cities aren't really great fun for little kids.  Sure, the museums, green space and some sights can be great, but the over-stimulation and getting from point A to point B can be tough. Especially, if you don't have a stroller or transportation.

Allow me to use my horror story as an example.

Our first morning in Melbourne, The Aussie and I could hardly wait to hit the city. Riddled with jet lag, the three of us stumbled out of our high-rise apart'hotel The Citadines On Bourke, situated right smack in the middle of the central business district (CBD). Even better, on the best street for shopping in the city! 

The City of Melbourne, Australia is gorgeous. From the architecture to the sights, sounds, trams, food, culture, museums, street art and Pokie pubs, it's the greatest. 

Hand-in-hand the three of us headed down Burke Street towards Southern Cross Station to meet friends for lunch. Mid-way down, The kid starts asking to be held. All 45 pounds of him. 

Dad picks him up and carries him a couple of blocks. Puts him down.

Two minutes later, I'm holding him. 

Five minutes later, switch.

This is pretty much how the entire time in the city went that day. The boy wanted nothing to do with walking in the city. Which is odd, since he always wants to walk. 

Later that night before bed:

Me: Why didn't you want to walk today? You always want to walk.

The Kid: There are too many people and all I can see is their butts!

I had to laugh.

As the conversation progressed, I realized it must be scary for a three foot, four-year-old in a big city. He's in a strange place, there are people everywhere surrounding him, especially on the street corners. 
It's got to be scary. 

And all he can see are butts!

The next morning, a friend brought us a stroller on his way to work. Even though the kid was a little big for it, he was happy to sit in it. 

INTERJECTION: Just like infants will happily sleep in their carriers before a crib, there is something about a stroller that makes a child feel safe. Even a big scary city surrounded by people he doesn't know with an unfortunate line of sight.

We used the stroller the entire time we were in Melbourne. In the city, suburbs, shopping... The little guy was happy to sit in it and look around. We were happy to push him.

That being said, we still spent a great deal of time holding him during our three-week trip.  The second he got tired, uncomfortable or unsure, into our arms he went.

Before we flew back to the states, we made a pitstop in Sydney, Australia. Without a stroller, we were prepared to hold him while in the city, however, we quickly found out all the hills in the Sydney CBD made it back-breaking hell. 

We were going to have trouble the next four days navigating Sydney by foot with a four-year-old. I was desperate for a stroller and resolved to buy one until I found out strollers are sold at only one store in the CBD, David Jones, and start at $100AU.  

We passed on buying a stroller and opted to make do. (Read: He spent a lot of time attached to daddy.)

Needless to say, we took advantage of public transportation every chance we got.


and the double-decker city tour bus.

Moral of the story: Little kids can be super-duper overwhelmed by a big city. Creating a comfort zone or safe space is key to a seamless city stroll. 

I know bringing a stroller on a plane can be a pain in the ass, but it flys free and will prove to be priceless.

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com