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  • HyperHam 10:52 am on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: babywearing, prams, pushchairs, strollers,   

    Getting around London with a Baby, or LESBIAN HARRY POTTER SEXES UP TWILIGHT HOTTIE ROBERT PATTINSON ON PILE OF LOLCATS WHILE LILO LOOKS ON WITH MONSTER TRUCKS FULL OF CASH. OMG FAIL. 

    We don’t own a car, and even if we did, I don’t know how to drive on the wrong side of the road, so here in London I have come to know and actually enjoy the public transport.  I rode the Tube and busses throughout my pregnancy, and take Alex everywhere using the system.  Therefore, I can speak with some sense of knowledge about getting around town with a little one.  This advice is London specific, but I think it works for all large cities.

    1.  Do Your Homework.

    2.  Equip Yourself.

    3.  Assume the Worst.

    4.  Don’t Sabotage Yourself.

     

    1.  Do Your Homework.  When you are in a big city and using public transport, another level of planning has to occur before you walk out.  While some tube stations have ‘step free’ access, most don’t, so you can expect to be lugging a stroller up and down a *lot* of stairs, or lugging a toddler around.  Check tfl before you head out for any last minute changes or closures.   Between strikes, weekend closures, and (how do I say this nicely) incidents on the tracks (read:  dead body), you do not want to be trapped in a train or at a stop and have few options.  A word on the Tube:  in the summer, the trains can reach an internal temperature of 120 Fahrenheit.  You do not want to risk being trapped in a car that is stuck in that kind of temperature with a baby.  Best case scenario, you will have an inconsolable child.  Worst case, your kid could stroke out from heat, dehydration, and the like.  If it’s after June, take the bus.  And for the love of  Thor, do not attempt to ride any public transport during rush hour (in London, that would be between 8 am to 9.30 am, 4 pm to 7 pm).  Just.  Don’t.

    2.  Equip yourself.   I cannot stress this enough:  If you are capable of wearing your child, DO IT.  Babywearing is (for those who can physically do so) very easy, cost effective, and efficient.  You can walk up and down steps without worrying about letting go of the handles of a stroller, not having room on a bus, or (and I have night terrors about this one) forgetting your child on the bus.  With baby strapped to front (or back, when they get old enough), you have hands free abilities that you simply do not have with a pram.  Most busses only have enough room for 2 strollers at a time – if you are number 3 (or there are already strollers on when you get to the stop), you will have to either fold down your stroller and carry your kid, or wait for the next one.  And remember, if a person in a wheelchair comes on, you have to fold it all down or hop off and wait for the next bus.  If you can’t wear, get the smallest safe stroller you can, something light and easy to fold and carry one handed.

    3.  Assume the Worst.  London gets a bad rap in the UK as being a rude town, which is a bit unfair.  It’s a city of 7.5 million people, and they all have somewhere to be OMGRIGHTNOW, so yes, people can be a bit brusque, but with any group of people I tend to take the 85-10-5 rule.  85% of any group are regular decent folk, 10% are jerks, and 5% are pure evil.  So, if you walk onto a bus assuming someone is going to be an utter asshole, you can be pleasantly surprised when the trip goes well.

    4.  Don’t Sabotage Yourself:  I will say, I almost always get treated well on the bus with Alex, and here is why:  I firmly believe if people realize you are trying your hardest to accommodate them, they will go out of their way to accommodate you.  When they see a mum with a Land Rover sized pram with 1672820 bags hanging off the handlebars, slogging her way down the isle, whether it is fair or not they are annoyed with her.  She takes *forever* to get in place, she takes up *so much* room, and God help everyone on the bus if more than one of those Behemoths are on at a time – it can descend into fisticuffs.  Meanwhile, I get on just as fast as everyone else with Alex, and take up the same space as one fat dude (Alex does stick out my front side – like I’m preggers all over again!).  When people see me, they generally give up their seats.  They see me trying, and they try to match the kindness.

     

    Mommas:  it’s mean, but true:  Until there is a ‘baby only’ bus, you are not a protected class – you get up for the elderly and disabled.  No one is under any moral or legal obligation to make life easy for you on the bus – they have places to go.  Set yourself up for success by paring down, wearing when you can, and planning ahead.

     

    (For everyone else:  All that being said, next time you see someone struggling getting their pram up steps or fighting to get a toddler and pram down the isle, take a second and help them.  It’s the nice thing to do.)

     

     

     
    • Mosh 1:23 pm on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, strange how buses routinely have stickers telling you to give way to pregnant woman – but as soon as they've dropped the sprog they're just someone else fighting for a seat.

      (Iain – sick of trying to get OpenID to work so posting as a guest)

  • HyperHam 8:11 pm on May 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: babywearing, bus, transport   

    Let me begin by saying I have always viewed public transport in London very positively. Be it the 94 night bus out of Picadilly Circus at 4 am, or trying to take an interchange anywhere near Chelsea on a match day (oy the sea of blue and white!), people can be slightly assholish, but on the whole, perfectly safe. However, today I witnessed up close and personal my very first fist fight on the bus.

    I knew there was going to be trouble when we pulled up to the Westfield Mall stop. It’s half term, so the place was crawling with kids/mums/teens as well as the regular commuters off the Underground and Overground rail lines. All the smart people who had walked to the side of the mall to get on the first stop could see it too. See, like everything else in London, space is limited on the busses, no more than in the buggy corral area. That is some prime real estate. So, when I could very clearly see 3 mummies and buggies waiting, I knew there would be issues. Luckily, one mum had an foldable getup, so it *should* have been smooth sailing. I mean, this was the 237. It goes through Chiswick, for goodness’ sake. Everyone should have been cool. It should have been fine.

    It wasn’t.

    Lady is sitting with young son, about 8/9 or so, and 3/4 year old in buggy. English is not her first language. Mum comes on with 2 kids, about 12 or so, and infant in pram. Chavish was her first language. Chavy tells Lady she can’t fit her buggy in the farthest spot, Lady misunderstands, moves her kid into aisle. Chavy moves into her spot. Lady is now pissed, and starts moving her stuff (because when you have a ginormous buggy you have to hang every bag you own off of it – everyone in London does this, annoys the hell out of me). Lady bumps pram. Chavy yells that if she bumps the pram again there will be trouble. Lady bumps pram –

    THWACK!

    Chavy cold cocks lady. Bus gasps, but it’s so packed no one can really think to do anything, or have room to do it. Lady swings back, random guy gets close enough to hold back Chavy. Tension filled pause, and then

    LADY INTENTIONALLY KICKS CHAVY’S PRAM.

    Now, this thing is built like a Sherman tank, so the kid is okay, but it’s the principle of the thing. You don’t intentionally hit a kid, or whatever a kid is in. Again the fists fly, again the bus gasps, again the guy steps in. Lady is spitting blood, Chavy lady realizes entire bus is fumbling for cell to video this encounter, and gets off at the next stop. When I am about to get off, I approach lady, ask if she and the kids are okay. Lady did hit Chav’s pram, but Chavy started it, so I call it a wash, and want to make sure more than anything that the little ones are alright.

    This is why I babywear.

     
    • MmeLindt 6:14 am on May 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Great post. I like your writing style. Off to read some more of your blog.

      • HyperHam 7:46 am on May 6, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks! Monkey and I aim to please. 🙂

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