I first wrote about how Annie says “Uppa!” a little more than two years ago. “Uppa!” was one of Annie’s first words, and it has a specific meaning: “Pick me up, Daddy!” In the two plus years since Annie started using this word I’ve carried her a whole heck of a lot in a whole heck of a lot of places:
I have to say, I love “Uppa!” When Annie runs up to me with her hands outstretched and I swing her into my arms, there are few things in life as awesome. But here’s the thing… Annie is no longer a baby. She’s 38 pounds now, and as much as I enjoy the closeness of carrying her around in my arms, I just don’t think I can handle it anymore. My back – which was bad long before I ever lifted Annie – now is a total mess, and it’s only going to get worse the bigger Annie gets.
In a perfect world I’d just tell Annie that my days of carrying her so much are through, but it’s not as easy as that. Whenever we go out in public Annie shouts “Uppa!” almost the minute she gets out of the car. I try to tell her no (usually saying something like, “You’ve got feet. You can walk!”), but she continues to yell “Uppa!” over and over while cutting in front of me until I finally pick her up.
I’ve talked to Heather about this, and she made the point that when they’re together Annie never asks to be carried. Clearly, Annie is capable of being out and about without being carried, but when Dad’s around she wants “uppa!” I can’t blame her, I guess. Who wouldn’t want to carried from place to place? Still, we’ve got to make a change here.
I realize I’ve created a monster by carrying Annie around so much for so long, but I sure could use some advice on stopping it. As much as I will miss carrying her around in my arms, I’d miss having a functional back a lot more.
Start a new tradition! “Holdda!”, could mean its time to hold hands with daddy?! My guess is its the act of you doing your special daddy thing she is after. She is a smart girl, she will understand that she is getting to be a big girl, and sometimes it hurts to carry her. But you could still hold hands! Good luck!
Becca Masters says:
Have you maybe tried a carrier for her like an Ergo or a Manduca?
The Ergo’s upper weight limit is 35 lbs, and I’m pretty sure we stopped using it with my daughter around 30 lbs, because 30 lbs of toddler right on your torso hurts for more than a short walk (5 minute tops).
Let me know if you find a solution. My 34 month, 36 lbs daughter says ‘cawwy’ and does the wrapping around my legs thing too. It’s all good and well when she does it to daddy, but she happens to also expect it from 8 1/2months pregnant me. I’m pretty sure between her and the 40 lbs I’ve gained for this one, the two of them are trying to kill me.
Personally I think she is old enough to have tough love. Just say no and stick to your guns. While she keeps saying “uppa”, say no and keep walking. It’s like weaning from a bottle or pacifier, the first few times its rough but will get easier.
As a child psychologist, I agree completely. That’s what we teach parents : consistency. Once you’ve said no, stick to it. Every time you cave in, all Annabel learns is that it pays off to persevere in her request instead of learning that your need is different. You can start by telling her about the change, your back, whatever. Then, when you are about to get out of the car, you remind her that you wont pick her up, and then, stick to it. You can replace the behavior, as was previously mentioned, but at her age, Annie is old enough to also live pure disappointment and it’s perfectly fine. It’s better that she learns it with you than out there, in the real world But I’m not worried, you’ve got great kids!!!
I’d completely just explain it to her, not using terms like “you’re too big for this” but maybe “daddy’s back hurts a little bit today”, then holding hands instead. (I loved that idea from the previous commenter!!) It sounds as if y’all have just gotten in a habit that’s not working for you anymore and an alternative will do the trick. Good luck!
I agree with what a couple of the previous commenters suggested. Explain to Annie that your back hurts and start a tradition of holding hands.
Have you tried explaining that your back hurts?
I agree with the hand holding suggestion. I have a close friend who leaves her son in my care during the day. He came to me already walking, so I’ve never been asked ‘Upppie’ like she still does. He’s 3 now and getting too big. He finally asked me ‘uppie’ the other day on our walk and I said “No, you are a tall boy and my back would hurt to carry you now. sorry, buddy, but we can hold hands” and he was okay with that.
Is it the lifting her that hurts, or the carrying? If its the former, try squatting down to pick her up, instead of swinging her up with your arms outstretched. Can you give her a piggyback ride instead of carrying her on your hip? Another suggestion (and I’m a little biased), is to find a physical therapist who can help work out any muscle imbalances, show you appropriate stretches and some exercises to help strengthen your abdominal muscles (which are really weak on most of us-me included). Good luck!!
Can you get your doctor to tell her that you can’t carry her anymore? That’s what worked for my 4yo. I have hip dysplasia and my doctor wanted me to stop carrying him – he wouldn’t listen to me and insisted I still haul him around, but he did listen when the doctor told him he’d broken mama.
Be honest? Tell her’My back hurts right now, but I can hold your hands instead’. She’s getting old enough to start understanding sympathy (in this case, towards you!)
This probably won’t work all the time, but maybe ease her out of being carried one step at a time.
Awwww. My kids (16 & 13) both used to say ‘uppa!’ too! I don’t remember how it stopped but I had back problems too so probably told them it hurt me. I love the hand holding suggestion. Maybe asking her if it would be funny to see grandpa carrying you or Heather around, to get her to realize that it’s also part of growing up.
How about a double stroller?
Ohh, “Uppa” – my daughter still says it and she’s all of SIX years old! We’d make up a little sing-song, “1-2-3, Upp-alla” and we still do that but yeah, my back is completely shot and so are my arms! My daughter only asks to be held by me and only when she is not feeling well. I used to tell her when she was 3 or 4 years old that “mommy’s back hurts” and that she’s old enough to walk. She hated hearing that but knew that it was my answer for every time she wanted to be held. My daughter eventually just learned to stop asking as frequently. I miss it, my back doesn’t but I love that full blown huggy, lovey-dovey feeling I get from holding her.
I have issues seeing a 3 yr old in a stroller, always have had these issues, even pre-kids. And older than 3 in a stroller REALLY annoys me. So, we taught our kids early on to walk. Walk everywhere. Sure, we had a stroller but we got them out of it quickly. So they learned they had to walk places. People who say a perfectly healthy 3-4 yr old can’t walk a mile have just taught their kids to be weak. [Disclaimer: I’m not talking here about kids with physical issues that inhibit their ability to walk.]
That said, try telling her that your back hurts and you can’t carry her anymore. She’s getting to be a big girl, too big to carry. And when you’re out the first few times and she wants to be picked up even though you had the talk with her, if need be, lay on the melodrama. Try picking her up and then say ouch, ooh, aah, my back hurts. She’ll probably be concerned. It may not work, but worth a try, right?
Sadly, (and happily) she is too old to carry…but not too big to pick up and hug occasionally. Just have a talk with her and explain how heavy she is because how grown up she is.Tell her it really is bad for your back. Then I would definitely practice tough love, she is old enough. Also, I watch Top Chef Masters on Weds nights and next week they are inviting the Yo Gabba Gabba dudes on the show, may want to tape or watch with Annie.
When I’d had enough of carrying my oldest, my doctor gave me great advice: Make walking together into a game….race to the next line in the parking lot, skip to the door, race (so long as the surroundings are safe), dance, walk backwards, walk like a dinosaur, walk like a ballerina, jump over the cracks, etc. There are lots of fun ways to get from point A to point B and you don’t even have to mention your back!
I like this idea! It still takes work, but in the form of creativity rather than back strain. It sounds like something Annie would love! I also like holding hands, and you can play the little game of having a “secret squeeze.” (One person does a slight, gentle squeeze, and the other person does it back, and no one else can tell you’re doing it!) And I’d imagine she might need some extra snuggles throughout the day to make up for it, maybe sitting on your lap after meals or another set time of day. But definitely stick to your guns once you say no!
Try saying something like, “Annie, if you walk *pick a desirable distance*, I will give you one (favorite color) Skittle!” Then when she makes it to that distance pick another distance a little longer/farther and promise another Skittle. She has to walk nicely and stay by your side/hold your hand to earn the Skittle too.
I did this with my kids at the supermarket. They received skittles in aisle 13 and 25, after I paid for the groceries and once we made it to the car.
Annie is a smart cookie, just be honest!
Let her know that you have a bad back and that now that she is a “big girl” (At her age she probably loves being called a big girl) it makes your back hurt more to carry her BUT that you would LOVE yo hold hands with her. I think she would catch on pretty quick because she is so smart and sees everything going on around her!
Annie is incredibly intelligent. Why not just have a heart to heart with her and tell her the truth? She is growing up and getting bigger every day, it hurts Daddy’s back to carry her all the time. She is now old enough to walk BESIDE Daddy and hold his hand so he doesn’t get lost
(After typing this I read Marsha’s response. Basically, ditto here!)
I don’t have much in the way of advice (except that I think I would explain that your back hurts because kids have a lot of empathy and Annie would likely understand that) but I want to say that the black & white photo of you with Annie is just stunning!
Sarah W says:
You have gotten lots of great advice on how to get past this whole “uppa” thing. I just want to say that the last photo of you and Annie in black and white is FANTASTIC.. Best photo ever!!
Holda. Great idea! “Annie, 3 year old who go to school do ‘Holda” instead of ‘Uppa.’ Those are the rules.”
No wonder your back hurts – have you noticed that you always hold her with the same arm?? (See the pictures!!) I guess your back IS out of whack! Stick to your guns…no means no.
Stacy G. says:
I agree with the rest. Just explain it to her. My husband has a bad back and our 4 year old is really sympathetic about it. The other day *I* had been standing for awhile while cooking and washing dishes. I said, “Wow. My back hurts from standing for so long.” I didn’t even know he had heard me when I heard, “Go lay down. We will be okay with K & A (his older sisters).” LOL
The B&W photo is gorgeous!!
I don’t really remember how I stopped having to carry my 6 year old daughter, but every once and a while I or Dad will give in to the request. When she’s really tired–a long hike–or feeling sick. But it’s clearly reserved for the rare occasion. I remember my Dad carrying us to bed sometimes, until we were about 8 years old. We loved it. It was such a special treat and a nice bonding moment. I don’t know how bad your back is, but it might make more sense to taper off rather than quit cold turkey and never make exceptions.
I have no suggestions but wanted to say good luck! My 3 y/o frequently wants me to carry her as well, especially when she gets shy or nervous however the difference is she is a peanut and hardly weighs anything.
I had to institute a ‘no uppy’ rule at the zoo. I started by bringing the stroller and just telling him, I don’t carry you here. It’s stroller or walk. He accepted it pretty quickly and almost always chose walking to being confined. Now I don’t even have to bring the stroller.
satchi Nitay says:
Awwiie… so sweet. I remember what it feels like to be carried by my dad and also how fun it was to sit on his shoulders (even when he was going for a run). For the most part, that ended when I was 4. My mom and dad both said I was a “big girl” and too heavy to carry. They did explain to me backaches and stuff like that too.
I don’t know. I think she’ll grow out of it when she is ready. I think it’s a bonding/comfortable thing with her right now. Sorry your back is giving out but you’re going to miss “uppa” when she doesn’t want it anymore.
I think you need to start a new tradition with her and start it by telling her exactly what you said here. Explain to her about your back and that while you *want* to continue “uppa” you can’t because it’s causing you so much pain. Then tell her that she can *always* hold your hand and walk beside you but to be safe “uppa” can’t continue. Maybe you can also give her some lotion and tell her you need it to help your back from hurting. And don’t feel guilty Mike. She’s a big girl and she will understand.
Ashley S says:
Our youngest totally loves to be carried as well. She’s 4 and still begs me to carry her. My response now is actually in the form of a question:
“Did God give you legs?”
“Do you have to keep your legs?”
“Well if you don’t want me to send them back to God you’d better use them!”
By that point she’s giggling and walking happily with me.
I hear you on the back pains! I’ve got a 7-month-old who weighs 19 pounds and my back is already out of whack. I can’t even begin to imagine the day she can walk by herself, but I know the growing pains will be there (for both of us) when I can no longer carry her. I just hope my back can make it a few more years of holding her close.
If you’re really up for stopping, maybe you can make a big deal of “one last Uppa” somewhere and commemorate with pictures. Like an uppa graduation or something.
Expat Mom says:
Have you explained to her about your back? She’s old enough to understand that and it might help her if you remind her that she’s too big to carry without hurting you. I hated that stage, having to give up carrying my boys. I still snuggle them, but it’s not the same.