This half term we took some time off as a family, left the Shire and travelled South to visit friends and family in Eastbourne & London. We spent the majority of our week in Central London being semi-tourists visiting some of the top attractions and for the first time we didn’t take our trusty old love-worn double buggy. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but for us it was a tricky decision to make. When is a good time to start phasing out the buggy? The idea of being outnumbered by our 6 year old daughter and 2 and a half year old twin boys in some of the busiest spaces in the Capital was a bit daunting.
Our reasons for leaving the buggy behind.
For the first few days of our break we were visiting friends on the South coast so were planning to just be hanging out, catching up and going to the beach so the buggy wasn’t really a factor.
For the London leg we were staying with my sister-in-law who was totally happy (and possibly now slightly regretting) to very kindly let the 5 of us descend on her 2nd floor 1 bedroom flat in Camden… so storage space could’ve been an issue.
As we were quite central we were planning to use a lot of public transport and the odd taxi… most bus and underground services accommodate buggy and wheelchair users but we just wanted to travel light.
The boys are strong enough and able enough to handle a lot of walking and our daughter is as reliable and streetwise as a 6 year old can be when it comes to staying with the group.
Also, the boys are napping less so our days could be planned as a full day.
Our going buggy free apprehensions.
The boys are napping less… but still do nap every now and then, potential tired little people having no-nap meltdowns and having to loosely plan our days with this as a possibility.
Breaking free from holding our hands and running off.
How did it work out?
We jumped in at the deep end and visited busy half term hotspots like The Natural History Museum, London Zoo, The Sky Garden, The British Museum, The Tate Modern and Regent’s Park… we travelled on foot, by bus, tube and even by canal boat… it was almost liberating to just travel as 5 people and a backpack… no lugging, steering, unloading and collapsing a double buggy throughout the day.
We walked on average 12000 steps a day.. I’m not sure how many steps this worked out as for little legs but I would say that we did end up carrying the boys roughly 20% of the time.. especially on the days where we were out all day. We found that pit stops were essential – hourly on some occasions in locations where it was very busy and hot.. we’d find a quiet(ish) spot, sit together and have a little drink and/or a snack and chat about the things we had seen and what was next.. it was like pressing a little reset button for the group. These big crowded spaces can be a strange experience for toddlers a lot of the time, the acoustics can get a bit echoey and at times all toddlers see are people’s legs… it can get a bit much for them to process.
There was the odd tired/hangry meltdown where a pit-stop wouldn’t suffice and a buggy nap would’ve come to the rescue but we just had to ride it out, beam ourselves up and try our best with the art of distraction… or just wait until they’d got bored of themselves or had forgotten that they were in a tizz. Knowing where each of our 3 kids were and what they were doing at all times in such busy big spaces was quite intensive for us parents. We did feel like we were constantly checking our peripheral vision, trying to hold their hands, heading off in different directions throughout the day.. this was in no means a day for ‘us as a couple’.. there was barely a conversation that we could finish. Yes.. it does sound like hard work and yes.. we were quite frankly knackered by the end of each day but on hindsight I honestly think that the kids experienced more than they would have if the boys were confined to their buggy for a lot of that time. They saw more of what they wanted to see, had more fun being able to interact with each other more freely and generally had lots of practice of having more independence as well as learning to ‘stay with the herd’.. all progress in the name of growing up.. a tiny bit.. just a tiny bit.
Useful tips for being newly non-buggy.
Snacks and stops. Planned or impulsive… take them regularly.. even if it’s a 5 minute pit stop.
Try to travel light, consider taking a bag that can be strapped on or across keeping your hands free.
Communicate Communicate Communicate!!!
Remind yourself of what the kids are experiencing.. what can they see/hear? …is it getting a bit full on for them where you are?
Have your wits about you.. this may involve caffeine.