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Travelling by train with children

(97 Posts)
Bgsh Mon 31-Dec-12 11:05:20

Apologies if this topic is an old chestnut but a quick search does not show it's one that has been discussed. Travelling by train, I am happy to offer my seat to anyone who needs it more, especially anyone who is pregnant, travelling with a small child etc. What do other parents feel is courteous? My daughter, travelling wi her 9 month old daughter on a busy train did find a seat but was distressed to see others carrying babies having to stand while parents with tiny children took a seat each. As a grandma, I am aware that what is acceptable changes over time but I would be grateful to know how modern mums see this dilemma.

EverythingsNotRosie Mon 31-Dec-12 23:25:25

I was once offered a seat when not pregnant, just fat. So so embarrassed as the lady that offered it was quite elderly. Those stickers sound excellent!

TheFallenNinja Mon 31-Dec-12 23:31:50

Nobody offers seats now because they reserve (and in some cases pay) for them in advance. It makes them territorial, book well in advance and travel off peak, far less stressful. wink

TheCollieDog Mon 31-Dec-12 23:43:28

Well if you've booked and paid for seats, I don't see that as territorial, just sensible! I do a lot of long distance train journeys and always book a seat. It makes me cranky if I have to ask someone to move.

I wonder if this is the thing: we all have our own idea of what is polite behaviour for sharing public space. Most of the time, our ideas all overlap and it's fine. But sometimes we come up against a different set of ideas about appropriate behaviour about sharing space on public transport and it's irritating to have to ask for what we see as standard "good manners." I get irritated by phone & loud voice noise in the Quiet Coach, for example, and what irritates me is actually havig to ask people to keep it down. It's the Quiet Coach, I shouldn't have to ask.

I can absolutely see the logic of other posts on this thread about asking for a seat or quiet or one's reservation, and so on. Asking directly for what you want saves all the passive aggressiveness we're so good at. But I still resent having to ask for what I shouldn't have to ask for because other people should KNOW!

But we all have slightly different ideals of behaviour. For example, if there's plenty of space on the train, I will put my bags on the seat next to me. If it looks as though the train is going to be full up at a particular stop, I put them on the floor, and leave the seat next to me empty. But I've read on similar threads here that some people will deliberately ask a person to move his/her bags if they're on a seat, even if there are free seats elsewhere. I guess because they want to make a point?

Gillyweed001 Mon 31-Dec-12 23:47:51

I always wore my baby on board badge when pregnant, and the majority of the time I was offered a seat. There was one time that it was quite hot on the tube, so I took my coat off, which had my badge on it. A man offered me his seat after watching me for about 5 minutes. I thanked him, and he said he would have offered me his seat sooner, but couldn't figure out if I was pregnant or just fat. I think he had a fair point.

Alligatorpie Mon 31-Dec-12 23:48:14

The last train ride I took was a 40 minute ride to London, I was with my 10 day old baby and my six year old. I had the baby in a sling ( no stroller) and asked a woman to move her luggage from priority setting so I could sit. She said "no". I told her I had a 10 day old baby, this was priority seating and asked if she had bought a ticket for her luggage? She has early 40s (my age) and very well dressed. A man sitting a few rows in front leapt up and gave me his seat.
I was hormonal and exhausted, but manged to not start hurling her luggage out of the way. If that man hadn't offered me his seat and I hadn't wanted my older dd to see me make a scene, I would have gone mental.

But I always ask people to move purses or handbags and no one has ever acted annoyed about it.

Hypermutley Mon 31-Dec-12 23:53:55

On the flip side, sometimes people who want to sit dont help themselves. I work in canary wharf and the jubilee line packs up at the stop. people queue up to get on the tube in an orderly fashion. If you want a seat you can move up the queue and then miss a train and get to front of the queue to get a seat. Tubes are every 2-3 minutes at rush hour. I get annoyed when i see pregnant women get on and expect a seat in this situation when they can wait 3 minutes to get on a train not far behind with a seat! or is it just me?!

TidyDancer Mon 31-Dec-12 23:55:21

I will offer my seat (even if I had one or both DCs with me) on a train or tube, but generally my stance on this is that unless people are willing to ask for a seat, they shouldn't expect to be offered one. As some on this thread have proven, the capacity to cause upset and offence at the offer of a seat prevent many people from offering and I don't blame them. I would rather someone be induced to asked for a seat than upset a heavy woman by pointing out her size with the assumption that she's pregnant.

No one, adult or child, should be expected to give up their seat if they have reserved and paid for them specifically. That's not to suggest that they can't opt to offer the seat if they wish, but they reserved for a reason.

AlwaysHoldingOnToStarbug Tue 01-Jan-13 00:46:59

I will always move my children to offer seat space, but sometimes it depends! I was on a packed train once with barely standing room and 6 year old twins, I was going to make them both sit on my knee but everyone told me not to! I was a bit glad of that tbh! They were already sharing a seat, I've managed to fit me and 3 kids into 2 seats plenty of times.

I've never heard of these baby on board badges, is it something on the tube? They sound great for those times you're not sure. Maybe they should make "no, I'm just fat!" ones too, I could wear one! (been asked a couple of times recently, but not on a train yet!)

CoolaYuleA Tue 01-Jan-13 00:56:10

I once stood on a red hot, packed tube train for 45 mins, at 8.5 months pregnant. I was massive, it was obvious, and not one person offered me their seat. It was only this one journey as every other one was fine, but it was complete and utter hell. I was shoved, bashed, my bump was knocked into repeatedly. I could have cried.

bruffin Tue 01-Jan-13 01:01:11

I had a horribly journey with three of us sharing a double seat on a bus. It was a really hot day and dcs were getting quite big and were a little wriggly but only affected me as i was under them. There was nobody standing but full bus.

Had to sit with an old bag behind us moaning about badly behaved kids today, and how when she was little they never went anywhere as if taking kids on a bus was a crime, ended up losing it with her and asked the rest of the bus if my dcs were misbehaving, embarrassed her into silence.
On the way back ds sat next to lovely old lady and they had a nice chat about her cats.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 01-Jan-13 02:07:42

I've walked with crutches for the last 4 years and for most of the last 6 years I've had a baby strapped to my front. I can guarantee it'll be old ladies giving up their priority seat to allow me to sit down whilst the young, fit and healthy look out of their window and pretend to be oblivious, and that upsets me.

I put a complaint in to the bus company a few months ago when the driver insisted I gave up my priority seat (baby in sling, toddler with mobility problems of her own on my lap) to allow a pushchair on. He refused to move until I stood up! The bus was packed and most drivers would have said no or fold it up and I wasn't the only one who could have moved. I ended up getting off the bus and walking the rest of the way.

SpeedyMarie Tue 01-Jan-13 02:29:45

I think I have had more good than bad experiences on trains/public transport with small dc's, you do get the odd selfish fuckface, but what can you do.

I do find lots of people to be thoughtful and helpful and try to be so myself.

The weirdest thing I ever saw was on a GNER train, a family had taken residence of a four seater place with table, with a tiny wee baby, although this was in the smoking carriage, the baby was placed on the table in a snowsuit and left there for the 3 hour journey shock. Even my lungs were giving out at the end, poor thing.

bruffin Tue 01-Jan-13 04:15:28

TBH i did travel a lot with my dcs when they were little. I regularly went completly across london to visit my mum, and long trips to dorset to visit mil with 2 dc who were 2 years apart, so at times had a double buggy full of luggage.
I very rarely had any problems. Once got turfed off bus because they wanted me to close buggy, but i couldnt as i had so much shopping etc.
Ds never travelled well on tubes as it made him sleepy but he just sat on my lap o wedged him against wall.
As i said above i always booked seats to dorset, but the train was very rarely that full.

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 11:00:43

CoolaYuleA - did you ask for a seat?

I continue to be amazed at the amount of people who are pissed off to not be offered a seat, but to whom it doesn't occur to actually ask!

TheCollieDog Tue 01-Jan-13 11:09:38

I s'pose that's what I mean, CoolYule -- that some/a lot of people feel they shouldn't have to ask -- that others should offer, as basic good manners (and manners are about thinking of others before oneself). It's a basic lack of fit of our ideas of sharing public space. I can see both points of view, TBH. I suppose, if I really needed a seat, I would ask, while grumping a bit that I should have to ask.

Although there are some situations where even asking is pointless -- I've told the story before of being on a bus with only one arm & hand being of any use (a temporary 12 month disability) and women with prams taking up all the priority seats and refusing to look up from texting to even see that others might need a seat. They had previously refused to move to allow a man in a wheelchair to board. In my view, disability trumps prams at any time. Although I managed as I was temporarily disabled & gradually got increasingly strong so standing with wonky balance wasn't too bad, and got used to the selfishness. But I still think of the man in the wheelchair ...

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 11:23:28

TheCollieDog, why should you get a seat if you're not willing to ask? I just do not understand the mentality of people who will get in a strop at not being offered a seat, when IME all they need to do is ask.

There is so much scope for causing offence if you offer one up (calling fat people pregnant, a person with disabilities is deemed incapable of standing, an older person offended that they are thought of as elderly, etc) that I completely understand and fully support people not offering a seat. The majority though, will be willing to give up a seat if it's requested of them.

I really have very little sympathy for people who tantrum and moan about not getting to sit down when needed if they won't just ask for a seat.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 01-Jan-13 11:54:13

IME people see you coming and look out the window, get a book or their phone out and begin texting... anything other than look at the disabled mum who might ask them to give up their priority seating. otoh mums with pushchairs will make a fuss if they can't sit in priority seating because a disabled person is there! then we have the driver I spoke about who wouldn't move until I gave up my seat for a pushchair.

I don't think our experiences match really.

Bunbaker Tue 01-Jan-13 11:57:44

I always give up my seat to anyone who needs it. DD is 12 and looks perfectly healthy, but she has a condition in her bones that make her knees very sore and she needs to sit. So you can't always assume that a healthy looking person is being selfish by not offering their seat.

TheCollieDog Tue 01-Jan-13 12:04:35

* otoh mums with pushchairs will make a fuss if they can't sit in priority seating because a disabled person is there!*

I suppose my brief experience of temporary disability is that a disabled person has very little choice about their need. 6 months on public transport (I don't drive & couldn't have anyway with only one arm usable) taught me a lot! Everyone -- particularly those who are responsible for managing public transport of any kind, should do a few weeks with a mobility or other physical problem, IMO.

So you can't always assume that a healthy looking person is being selfish by not offering their seat.

And that's the problem with TidyDancer's philosophy of "You've got to ask for a seat." I'm not saying TinyDancer's view is not sensible -- it is : it's sensible & healthy to ask for what you need, rather than the typical English passive-aggressive moaning & muttering she talks of! But ... sometimes it's not so simple.

Ouch, I'm getting splinters from this fence I'm sitting on.

BigSpork Tue 01-Jan-13 12:07:52

TidyDancer, I've never seen anyone having a strop or tantrum at not being offered a seat. I have seen people scowl at anyone in need who looks at them, turn their backs on them, shout abuse, shove, purposefully block seats for certain people, push past those with disability to get a seat, teachers allowing students in their care to push out a man with a stick who was desperately trying to get the just freed priority seat (then yell at the man for not asking when he fell over). Offering one up may cause discomfort if it is not well received, but it is nothing like the discomfort that the other people are going through and shouldn't put people off looking for those in need and doing good for the sake of their own comfort.

I have had some very lovely generous people on trains, the vast majority of people are. But if for people like my DH who is a young disabled man who has gone through this horrible treatment repeatedly, it can be more comfortable to grin and bear (and risk falling over, spending the next few days with his legs up, needing his stronger pain meds he hates) than risk people's abuse in front of our 4 small children especially when people's body language radiates their displeasure that you might bother them.

SaraBellumHertz Tue 01-Jan-13 12:18:25

I once had a woman complain that my bump hit her in the face. I kid you not.

I was on one of those busses with the seating facing inwards and as the bus got more and more jammed I was forced to stand closer and closer. My bump was pretty much in her face for twenty mins. There was absolutely no mistaking that I was heavily pregnant and as the bus lurched another standing passage fell into me pushing me into this woman who then had the nerve to snarl "FGS be careful!"

Gillyweed001 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:21:22

One of my friends has ME and has written to tfl requesting a similar badge to the baby on board one. This one is an 'I have an invisible disability' badge. The guy who write back said it is something they will look into, as you can't always tell by looking at someone if they have a disability.

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 12:25:30

Ah you see, I have seen strops at not being offered. And I have countered with "why don't you ask for one?". There's never an answer for that, just an embarrassed fluster because the tantrummer doesn't have anything reasonable to come back with.

TheCollieDog, you get around accidentally asking someone with an invisible disability by not asking anyone specific. A general ask of "would anyone mind letting me sit down? I'm pregnant/ill/disabled/elderly" generally gets you a seat.

Of course there will always be selfish people who won't give up a seat under any circumstances whatsoever, but the likelihood at getting an entire carriage full of them is slim.

I just don't have any sympathy where people get huffy yet won't actually open their mouths and ask for what they want.

kim147 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:29:12

tidydancer It's not easy to ask for help. I think it requires a good degree of confidence and assertiveness that many people just don't want to show.

Mind you -

"A general ask of "would anyone mind letting me sit down? I'm pregnant/ill/disabled/elderly" generally gets you a seat."

Should provoke someone into feeling guilty and standing up. But it's just not the kind of thing people do. We're very much accustomed to accepting things and not being assertive to make changes - very much a theme of other threads on here about relationships and with inlaws / parents etc.

ll31 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:33:59

i dont understand people who don't ask to be honest. if bus is any way crowded i always ask people to move bag, coat etc so i can sit there on basis that that allows the more retiring people to sit on other vacant seats!

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