I don’t love you anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had 18 wonderful years living in your crazy city. I met my wife, had my kidney transplant and gave birth to my baby all within the North Circular.
But recently I’ve slowly fallen out of love with you… it’s wiping black snot from my daughter’s nose, it’s having our car broken in to 4 times in a year, it’s Kate’s disabled badge being stolen, it’s Scout’s bag being nicked from outside our front door, it’s heaving a buggy up flights and flights of stairs with no one offering to help and the lift being broken for months on end (yes, King’s Cross – I’m looking at you.) It’s the speed people drive down our road scratching and knocking our car as they do, it’s the insane prices for coffee and nursery… £100 for a day for child care? Well, I might as well not go back to work. It’s getting on the bus and not knowing what kind of person is going to leer at your or your baby, it’s the hideousness of traffic, parking, oyster costs. It’s not being able to afford or get tickets for anything that you want to go to. It’s not being offered a seat on the tube as you carry you heavily pregnant belly and wipe sweat from your brow.
London is a waiting room. A waiting room for people to meet their spouse, to shake off dating and clubbing days, to get on the career ladder, to while away your twenties eating takeaways and drinking wine in cheap bars, staying up all night, spending way beyond your means but not caring. Then one day if you are lucky enough you give birth to a tiny precious bundle. One you would give your whole life up for in a heart beat. And you start to see London in a totally different way… a darker way.
Like a protective Mama Bear I feel I need to get out of London, taking my girls with me, for a better life. For more space, cleaner air, an affordable lifestyle. Stairs! A garden which isn’t the size of a matchbox.
Goodbye London. I’ll never forget you.
In the very early days when we brought home a tiny bundle of Scout we were determined to try and get out every day. Mainly because this would give us a purpose each day (apart from keeping said baby alive) so living in Stoke Newington in Hackney we found ourselves surrounded by so many activities and classes that it was pretty easy to be busy.
Kate went back to work after around 6 weeks (I know, I was incredibly lucky to have her around for so long) so in order to keep myself from going mad at home I organised a back to back timetable of activities…which seems pretty insane looking back but I had no idea what to do with a very small baby and desperate to meet other mums this seemed like the best thing to do.
Here’s a few of the things that have kept me sane over the past 9 months:
- Frog Prince – an hour long class of all the classic nursery rhymes with the occasional Beatles or Disney hit thrown in. The class has a really chilled out vibe with a help-yourself tea caddy on the side and lots of instruments scattered around the place for the babies to play with. £5 – locations vary depending on day, but I hear the Wednesday session at Hackney City Farm is not to be missed in the summer as it’s outside.
- Sensory – I realised today as Scout towered above the other babies and made more noises and mess than any of them put together that at nearly 10 months old she is getting a bit old for sensory. Noooo!! Rose from the Hackney branch is lovely and the classes are always different meaning Scout (and more importantly, me!) never get bored. It’s also the most friendly baby class – it’s a great way to get to know new Mums. I *think* it’s around £7 a session but best to book a block as it’s cheaper. Think bubbles, lights, maraccas, parachutes…that kind of thing.
- Gymboree – Scout is obsessed with Gymbo the clown to an unhealthy level. She will often sit in her buggy cackling away at how hilarious her gymbo doll is must to the amusement of strangers. She spends the whole class jumping up and down and giggling in pure excitement and joy. I’m not going to lie – I find the classes a bit tedious and repetitive but the kids absolutely love them and it’s often where I see Scout improve her crawling/cruising etc most of all as the soft mats everywhere means she takes more risks so we’ll be Gymbo fans for at least a few months longer. (Prices depend on the bundle that you choose but if you are an NCT member there is a hefty discount)
- Baby Massage – we were fortunate that we were offered this class free by our health visitor due to have a ‘traumatic birth.’ The birth was actually fairly untraumatic – it was the aftercare that was awful, but more on that another time! Anyway, Kate took Scout along to this one alone (nice bit of bonding time) and she really enjoyed it. I don’t think we’ve actually ever done any baby massage since mind, but it was still a lovely and calm class and do ask your health visitor for a free referral as that’s definitely worth doing.
- Morris Minors – this was one of the first classes we took Scout to as it is run by our lovely and talented friend Michelle. Expect a variety of the lesser known nursery rhymes which are incredibly easy to pick up (Michelle will teach you!) lots of actions, playing with instruments and a bit of movement too. In the warmer months it’s in the pub garden under a covered area which was just gorgeous. Thursdays at 11am and at a bargainous price of £3 – plus the pub does good pizza – what more can you want?!
- Water Babies – Kate and I had made a pact pre-baby that we’d take our future child to regular swimming lessons from an early age. Mainly because we’d seen a friend’s 2 year old being able to get himself safely to the side of the pool if he ever fell in and got in to trouble. Plus even from inside the womb Scout was a water baby so we knew she’d love it. The only trouble is it’s bloody expensive so we ended up asking for a bunch of lessons as a Christmas present from one set of her Grandparents which worked brilliantly.
Would love to know what you found an essential part of your baby’s life in the early days, let me know!