Saturday 14 March 2015

Six thoughts about children and trains

Having just traveled to Wales by public transport, here are some thoughts about what does and doesn't work when travelling with children.

Don't bite off more than you can chew
The first summer that we were home educating, I had a baby, a two year old and an eight year old. Being new, I didn't want to miss any trips from the local group so we trailed to central London on a several stage journey. The toddler's legs grew tired so she had to be carried and we were so slow! I finished the day with exhausted children and with a migrain.

I know that there are people who manage public transport with several little ones but I'm not amongst that number. For us, public transport became easy once we discarded the pushchair. 

Work out whether the journey will be something that you personally can manage.

This concept also applies to baggage. We had two bags each of which one was a back pack. None of them were heavy. We had a pair of shoes each and the minimum acceptable number of clean clothes. 

Avoid the rush hour
This is what I should have done but didn't!
We did avoid changing tube at one of the busiest stations but the rush hour is difficult with children. They get squashed, people aren't patient and its far easier to get separated.

If you have to travel in the rush hour then the children need clear instructions about what to do an escalators, to stay close and what to do if they get lost.

My children needed a fair few activities for the journey to Wales, none of which could weigh much. These included
  • children's magazines. These usually also include activities.
  • Uno cards
  • Books read aloud. We finished two books and read the whole of another on our journeys.
  • a sheet of paper with a list of items for the children to spot and tick off. 
  • Colouring.
  • Drawing
  • Games-charades was popular this time. I did insist that this had to be played sitting down! Other options that we have used before are I-spy, listing all the animals/countries/famous people beginning with each letter of the alphabet, the Bible game (identifying Bible characters with yes/no questions), the history game (similar to the Bible game), fizz-buzz.
  • Meals-imperative on a long journey. Packed lunches are much cheaper than train food.
  • Looking out of the window: this doesn't work for a whole journey but the Conwy Valley line scenery was suitably impressive.
Sit together, of course, and if possible book a table relatively close to the toilets. This is particularly useful if there is only one adult who needs to supervise children in two places at once. 

It takes far longer to get off trains and there always seems to be a gap between the platform and the train! A reason to have a free hand to help a child.

Teach the children to help
Young children can carry childsized back packs. My eight year old carried all her own clothes and my six year old carried most of his but we did travel light.

Ask the children to help count the right number of pieces of luggage to go on and off the train.

Happy travelling!

Please add your tips in the comments.

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