London with kids: Its all in the preparation

We always make a point of going in to London over the summer holidays; we are particularly fond of Trafalgar Square and its wonderful street artists and ferocious lions. However, in order to make those trips to London with kids a great success, we have learnt that it is important to have all ones ducks in a row before you even set foot off the train.

Because we are a generous bunch here at KiddyCharts, we are going to share with you the secrets to our successes for our London trips with the kids. It isn’t rocket science I promise you, we just follow five key principles and that makes for everyone having a great time….

1. Do your research

Perhaps this goes without saying, but if it doesn’t, we are saying it!

If your kids like museums, check out the exhibitions that are on when you are going to be in London. If they are outdoor types, make sure there are plenty of playgrounds to visit near where you are staying, if they like science, then check out the options for this for your visit. Perhaps Science Museum Live: The Energy Show (finishes 3rd August) would be a good choice? Finally if they like the theatre, it might be worth going in August when kids get in free to many London shows *shock horror*

If you do decide that you are going to take them to a show then its probably worth giving them an idea of what they are going to be seeing too. We always do this with our kids, so that the bright lights, sounds and scenes aren’t all a total shock. You Tube is great for this, as you can see from the official video for The Energy Show below:

This gives you a great idea of the show’s content so you can chat to your children about it beforehand.

For those of you with children like my Stuntboy who needs a runaround once in a while, there is almost always a playground near where you are, even in the most unlikely of places. However, you won’t know this unless you check where the adventure playgrounds are beforehand. If you are desperate; you can always find a place to stop and have a break at one of these. THE best playground we have ever been to in London is near Holborn Tube and is quite simply, brilliant – Coram’s Fields. If you are ever near there, I can’t recommend it enough. They even have a small city farm for you to explore.

2. Book accommodation in advance

My parents were very much the “we’ll take whatever we find” when it came to working out where to stay when they went on holiday. In my experience, this doesn’t really work when you are in London. You really do need to book in advance so that you aren’t taking the first thing that you come across that will fit your kids and you in. It is not as easy as you might think to find accommodation in London that caters well for kids. If you have looked in advance, then you are much more likely to be able to find something that suits you. In addition, if you are taking the kids to a specific event, then make sure that you book something that is easy to get to the venue from. For example, for The Energy Show, there are a number of hotels located within distance:

There is nothing worse then traipsing around the capital with suitcases, and your kids in tow causing chaos because you haven’t thought ahead. Don’t do it ;-)

3. Take lots of activities for the train/car

However you are getting there, make sure you are prepared for everything! If you are driving, we have found that a few Top Trumps, a game of Uno, and a book of games to play in the car can go a long way, particularly if you are caught in traffic.

Some of these tricks work just as well on a train, but you can add colouring books and reading to the mix as well. If, like my children, yours get travel sick in the car, these types of activities are best avoided unless you want all kinds of nasties occurring before you have even managed to get to London.

4. Make sure you know your routes around London

The London Tube and bus network is awesome; no it really, really is, but only if you understand what on earth you are doing! Make sure you take in the Tube map before you go and work out where you need to be when, so that you are able to make informed choices about which stations are best for your chosen activities. This is particularly important if you have a pushchair to navigate around London. For example, I once agreed to meet someone, with my small people, at Angel tube…I had NO IDEA how horrendous the escalators were at this particular tube station before I was standing at the bottom of them staring up in awe at the sheer length of them. Not great when you have a 2 year old and a 6 month old in a pushchair with you….. *oops*

5. Take an emergency kiddy kit

What to put in it though? Well there are plenty of things that might go wrong in London, however, we always make sure we have the following in the event of child-related emergencies:

  • A change of clothes; well just because you know what kids are like
  • A small towel; this may seem slightly over the top however, there are a lot of fountains in London, and they are facinating to anyone over the age of 13 months that can get places under their own steam. Keep an eye on those little people at all times because they will get wet. In fact, there are a great source of fun, and some are fine to play in but not if you don’t have a change of clothes (see above) or a towel handy!
  • Snacks, kids get hungry all the time, and they are also a great way to keep children entertained when you are waiting, and sometimes in London, you do have to wait, whether its for a bus, a train or in a queue
  • Water/milk, if you are breastfeeding, then you are fine clearly, however if not, then make sure you have whatever liquid refreshment your little ones needs to hand really easily
  • Your Sense of humour, last but not least this is critical. Don’t leave it on the train, you will definitely regret it! ;-)

That’s it, my advice for trips to London with kids before you have even got there…what are YOUR ideas for visiting the capital, or indeed any other big city. We would love to hear them.

This is a sponsored post, and contains affiliate links – however its all my own thoughts and ideas. Photo credit: Tom Curtis / freedigitalphotos.net