Bearing in mind my commitment to spending time outdoors, it may not come as a surprise to learn that I never intended to be raising a child in London. In fact, I never even intended to live here myself.
For a few years after Mr Techno and I got married, I resisted the idea of moving to London, which was exactly what most of our contemporaries did straight after leaving uni. But eventually it became clear that we needed to be here for the sake of both our careers. After a few awkward months of commuting from Leighton Buzzard, I agreed to the move and we started renting the flat where we still live in August 2013.
In December 2013, we got a bit of a surprise when we learnt I was pregnant. A very happy surprise, but not one we had planned for! We were lucky that we already lived in a two bed flat (though the second bedroom was being used as a living room), so we were able to stay put. In August 2014, we welcomed Tom.
Raising a child in London has both pros and cons, especially when I’m aiming to raise a ‘Wildling’ rather than a city child.
1) It’s easy to get around locally on foot, meaning we get to spend more time outside.
2) Lots of green space. London is one of the greenest capital cities in the world. According to Visit London, there are more than 3,000 parks and open spaces in the city.
3) Good public transport links mean we rarely have to use the car.
4) City farms!
5) Endless toddler groups, soft play centres, and other child-friendly activities and events.
6) Easy to find like-minded parents – with this many people around, there is bound to be a group for parents who share your parenting approach.
7) Good choice of childcare. Outdoor space was a priority for us, so having a range of nurseries to choose from gave us the opportunity to find one with the space we were looking for. There are also different options such as Montessori or Steiner preschools for older toddlers.
1) Not much garden space. We are actually unusually lucky in that our flat does have a small garden. But we are on the first floor, meaning we have to go down a steep, narrow staircase to access it. It is also tiny, paved, and acts as a toilet for the local cats. Because we rent, there are limits to what we can do to improve the space. Though it will be my project for this spring.
2) Traffic. Cars, cyclists, even fast moving pedestrians can be hazardous to slow-moving toddlers who are just learning to walk and have little concept of personal safety.
3) Busy wild spaces. Although London does a good job when it comes to the provision of green space, the large population means that you have to share them, especially on warm days and weekends.
4) Limited step-free access. For those of us with buggies, accessing the tube can be difficult and frustrating. Buses are great, but slower. So getting to some areas of the city can be tough.
Hey, look at that! Seems like the pros outweigh the cons, at least for the moment. Truthfully, I am really happy with our lives here. It may not be what I planned, but raising a Wildling in London is not as much of an effort as I might have thought before Tom was born.
What about you? Do you have an urban family or are you rural all the way?