Monday 7 February 2011

Children and central London

I am getting a bit braver about taking children to London. When we started home education, I thought that we would visit museums one afternoon a week. It never occured to me that getting on and off buses and the tube with a baby, two year old and eight year old might be difficult and I forgot all about the rush hour.

I soon found out and paid with a migraine which put me off attempting educational visits to central London for a year or so. Recently, I've plucked up courage and attempted some trips which have, amazingly, worked well.

Just in case there is anyone else who finds taking little children to London difficult, here are my tips.

-if the trip seems too complex it probably is!

- plan in advance. These trips are best the day after a quiet day when everything can be packed the day before and the children aren't too tired.

-allow loads of time.

-avoid the rush hour!

-travel light. I use a back pack and carry everything in this. This is one of the few occasions that we put the little one in disposable nappies. Not good to share the lunch with dirty nappies!

-take food/drink. Food and drink is horribly expensive in central London.

-put a piece of paper with a contact mobile number in the pocket coat of little ones, tell them it is there and how to be safe if they get lost. Hmmm, have forgotten the paper a few times. Worth drilling them with address and name. Not sure that my two year old would manage this in a time of anxiety.

-Reins help with toddlers and a limited number of hands.

Trains which stop at a central terminus are easy in terms of getting off and on. There is usually, out of rush hour, space , on trains, for a pushchair.

Buses are relatively easy if they go exactly where you want them to go. Worth telling older children that this isn't the occasion to go upstairs-they need to wait until Daddy can be there too! I usually fold the stroller up before we get on as drivers only allow two unfolded pushchairs.

Tubes are where I still loose my nerve. There never seems enough time to get out but if anyone has any good tips, please let me know.

Finally, I still don't attempt central London often and am amazed by brave people who take children daily to the centre.
Apologies to anyone who finds travelling with little ones easy-I'm an example of a weaker sister.


  1. I know what you mean! My 9-year-old loves going to London and especially loves riding the Tube. I like to visit London, but with kids I always feel very tense the entire trip. We've always tried to avoid rush hour, but one time a signal went out, causing delays and extremely crowded trains in the middle of the day. There were 7 of us (including 1 child in a stroller and 2 others I was holding onto rather tightly), and we waited with a packed crowd of people trying to squeeze onto already packed trains. I was a nervous wreck by the time it was over. I'd like some tips on that myself! We don't go to London often as we aren't really that close.

  2. We're thinking of going into London soon, with the help of my Mum. What activities do you recommend for littlies? Alice x

  3. Alice, we love the Science Museum as there are hands on activities for little ones.
    We went to the Bank of England Museum yesterday, for the first time. This is really well presented with interactive displays including a gold ingot to try to lift. It would probably only take about an hour.
    Our four year old loved seeing Buckingham Palace and, if it is fine, the parks are great for picnics.
    My children would love to go on an open top bus but we haven't done that yet. The ordinary bus is a fine way to see London-providing it isn't raining and steamed up.

  4. Should have added that the Transport Museum in Covent Garden (not free), river trips (with plenty of adults!) and the Imperial War Museum (I'm fairly selective about what the children see but the 1940s house and the section on rationing is great).