The Trials and Tribulations of Having Children in London
From navigating through the crowds with a heavy buggy, to dashing across boroughs for a nursery pick-up, they never said having children in London would be easy. The commutes, the long working hours and the quick pace of life can be exhausting at the best of times, even before you add a toddler into the mix!
It’s true that many expectant parents choose to move out of the capital before raising a child. However there’s lots of us that can’t imagine being anywhere else but here. Whether it’s because this is where we find our support networks of family and friends, or because we believe that nowhere will ever match this city, we’re staying put. After all, there really isn’t anywhere like London.
Although we love London, it tries and challenges us every day. We deal with an eye-watering cost of living that somehow never fails to catch us off-guard (toys, food, birthday parties, activities, does it ever stop?!). Renting or buying a property in London costs a huge amount more than the rest of country - especially one with enough space to accommodate a family. But compromise is our forte. Londoners are stoic about making the best of less-than-adequate space (a bedroom that’s also a living room and kitchen? Pffft - no problem!).While many parents dream of picket fences and barbecues in big, open gardens, Londoners are happy to have a patio or even a window-box! Garden space is in high demand, and comes with a premium price to match. We all worry that a lack of space means our children can’t run around as much as we’d like them to. It may result in just a little bit more CBeebies screen-time than we’d like, not to mention at least 10,000 viewings of Frozen…
Luckily for us, London makes up for its scarce gardens with a wonderful array of parks and green spaces, from the well-loved Hyde Park to off-the-beaten-track hidden gems (see some great ones here)! You’ll also find lots of well-kept, imaginatively designed playgrounds that will keep your little one entertained for hours. These are the perfect places to enjoy some fresh air, get together with friends and allow your children to socialise, which is crucial for their development, health and overall happiness!
When we don’t have our noses in a stranger’s armpit, we’re trying to find time to take a breath and unwind! Juggling parenthood with all of life’s other responsibilities is difficult for anyone, but with children in London it sometimes feels like we’re always on the go.
While lots of parents around the country use a car to get around, Londoners are well-versed in tubes, buses and pounding the pavements with our own two feet! Hoisting a creaky buggy, five shopping bags and a sleepy baby onto the bus is a fine art to be admired and praised (we’ll master it one day). The next challenge is keeping your little ones quiet, happy and occupied during long public transport journeys - if you can’t, then you might feel the wrath of tuts, sideways glances and even ‘helpful’ suggestions! We’d rather not let our children play Candy Crush Saga, but sometimes there’s no alternative...
Running a brush through your hair while sprinting to the bus stop, writing emails while you’re also cooking dinner, putting your child’s socks on while they’re stubbornly wriggling on the tube - sound familiar? Even if most of your meals seem to be grab-and-go bagels and strong coffees, there’s loads of amazing ways to relax in London. We love free galleries like the Tate Modern, an evening walk down the South Bank or a sunset picnic on Primrose Hill.And, come the weekend, Londoners get to spend our time enjoying the truly incomparable culture and attractions that London has to offer. Because from the Natural History and Science museums to the food festivals, music events and historical sites, London is an amazing place for children’s education.
There are literally hundreds of things to do that will fill your child with wonder and curiosity, and give them a love of learning that will stay with them for life. See here for inspiration - some of our favourites are the Deen City Community Farm in Wimbledon, the Unicorn Theatre at London Bridge and the many free activities at the beautiful Kew Gardens.
Of course, with all of London’s incredible attractions come, well, a lot of people. Busy, bustling streets can sometimes feel overwhelming for the parents of a young child, and they can also make your city feel anonymous and unfamiliar. In smaller towns we might know everyone’s names, greet them on the streets and have a huge bank of potential babysitters. Here in London, that’s simply impossible.
Part of this is the sense of community that’s fostered in London. Despite its sprawling size and massive population, and perhaps because of it, we know the importance of a little community spirit. Public spaces, community centres and neighbourhood initiatives are valuable parts of Londoners’ lives, and they are fantastic for our children’s development.
But Londoners remember that the capital’s size and diversity is invaluable. Meeting new people every day is rewarding and fulfilling - especially for our little ones. Building diverse relationships with people from all walks of life helps to enrich and inform your child’s development, giving them never-ending opportunities to learn. In their precious early years, children in London interact with different people from all walks of life, and they’ll cherish these friendships for years to come.
So for all its frustrating traffic jams, its mystery smells, its tourist-packed streets and relentless noise, we know London is a uniquely wonderful place to be a parent. Raising children in London is tough, but we get to reap the rewards of a vibrant, colorful and exciting environment that helps them to learn and grow every day.
At LEYF Nurseries we care about London’s families. We know that becoming a parent changes your life forever. No one’s ever really ready for it. That’s why we’re with you through all the unpredictable joy of parenthood - through the surprises and the silliness, the colour and the chaos, the mess and the magic.To find your place at our family of nurseries visit Leyf.org.uk
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