They don’t call them pushchairs…

I always knew motherhood would have its challenges. Sleepless nights, lack of spontaneity, passport gathering dust (I’m stopping here before I depress myself). What I didn’t realise was that I’d wish I had a degree in mechanical engineering as well.

After procrastinating for weeks, and pretending that ripping pages out of magazines counted as research, it was finally time to take on the challenge of the travel system. Yes, part 1 was the realisation that it’s not just about a pushchair or buggy, it’s about finding one which will work with a car seat and a carrycot – unless it can also go flat – plus several seating positions, plus fitting into the boot of our compact car, plus being able to fold it up in less than an hour without using a diagram.

Given that I’m the kind of person who weeps in frustration over flat-pack furniture instructions, this doesn’t bode well. But ignoring it wasn’t about to make it go away, so I set aside an evening, cornered my husband, and settled down for some intensive research. This, of course, is only for the everyday one. I haven’t even begun to think about travel versions apart from harbouring a vague unspecified nagging dread.

My husband, incidentally, knows every specification and detail of every car ever. Really, I’m not exaggerating. But when I rattled through the list of what we needed to consider, the blood drained from his face, his eyes glazed over and he looked plaintively at me as if I was talking an obscure Mongolian dialect. Bringing out a file of ripped out magazine pages and printed-off useful information from the internet may not have helped, admittedly. Nor did the discovery of what it’s going to cost.

First stop, Which? who thankfully have tested over 160 different options and give you all the facts and figures along with helpful tips on whether you can use flip-flops to flip the brake on and off, or if stairs or buses are the kind of thing you can even hope to contemplate. With 30+ best buys, there were still more than enough options to give us a shopping list of nine to test in real life. Advance warning – I suspect this may be the first of many buggy-related posts.

So far, the grand testing day, where I push a string of buggies round and round a shop before being led gently away for restorative cake, has been put off. But what I have discovered is that I’m eyeing up every buggy I see in a mildly-crazed way. Twice today, I was on the verge of going up to strangers, accosting them and asking if they rated theirs. So far, I’ve restrained myself but I suspect it’s only a matter of time. I’ve also discovered that if you live in the W4 postcode (I don’t), a Bugaboo is apparently essential after seeing the logo on around 90% of the buggies sweeping past.

It’s got me wondering though – what’s the etiquette of accosting people to ask about their buggy? And does anyone have any suggestions for an urban weakling, who intermittently wears flipflops and drives an unhelpfully small car?