Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Things to do in London when you're 4 months old!
I was fortunate enough to grow up in the beautiful countryside, near the sea, and was always keen to ensure that my own children should have similar experiences. I did not want to have a baby in a city, especially not London, with its pollution, noise, over-population, limited views of the sky and overly-streetwise children. With one thing and another, we have not managed to leave London, yet, and although I am still desperate to get to the countryside as soon as possible, I have discovered some real benefits to having a baby in the city. There is just so much to do!
The list of activities for babies and parents is surprisingly extensive. Some of it is free, like visiting the parks and numerous playgrounds, many of which have shallow paddling pools and water jets for slightly older children. The social networks in London are also excellent, and there is rarely a day when I don't meet up with a friend (who may or may not have a baby) for coffee or a walk. Transport links are so good that the urban sprawl is easily negotiable, even with a pram. I would certainly miss this in a more remote area.
Other free activities include physio-run gym classes for new mothers, with play mats for the spectator-babies, breastfeeding cafes, toy-lending libraries, rhyme-time sessions and even participation in university research (see Amelia and Grandma#3).
One down-side of the large city is that the population is SO high that the demand for places on activities is enormous.
This morning, my husband set off at twenty to six in order to sign Millie up for a 14 week course of swimming lessons. They don't start until September, but the course is so popular that by 6:30 when the leisure centre opened, there were already over 150 people in the queue. She is also enrolled on a summer swimming course in a hotel pool, and begins her sessions there next week. Millie is currently on the waiting list for baby yoga and baby massage classes, but I think the next massage classes are in term-time, so she'll have to miss out on those.
I have resisted going to the local 'jamboree' sessions, where babies are inundated with sensory development activities, because you have to sign up for regular classes, and we can't do everything! There are lots of other play centres around, though.
Finally, for Mum, there is the Everyman Scream: cinema viewings exclusively for those accompanied by a baby under a year old. Millie and I went with our NCT group. There was plenty of room for buggies, and we sat on luxurious sofas, were brought drinks of our choice and chocolate brownies, and were able to watch a film and relax for a few hours. Bliss!
This weekend we are off to Glorious Goodwood, for a day at the races for a friend's Hen-do. There is a free creche and goodies for babies, although I expect Millie will be far too interested in gambling her Trust Fund to play in there!