London underground with a 4yo(16 Posts)
I'm planning a trip to the natural history museum with DD (4.7) on Friday.
We'll be traveling into London and using the tube together for the first time. (I've traveled around London by myself quite a bit, but never with a small child.)
I would welcome any advice, particularly about how to prepare her for the trip and practical tips on how to get through underground stations with a pre-schooler.
Thanks for your help!
If it's just you and her you will be fine, just hold hands tightly or carry her if really crowded.
Put your phone number somewhere on her and when we went to London last week we told the kids that if they got stuck on the train without us to get off at next station and sit on a bench and we will catch the next train today to find them and if the get left on the platform to sit on a bench and we will circle back to them.
its not too bad. Tricky bit I find is long corridors on the underground and they want to run! When we get on the moving stairs I put DS on the right and hold his hand before we get on (with me next to him), then once we are on I step forward and turn backwards so that I can still hold his hand but not in people's way IYSWIM. Yes talking to them about it before and perhaps offering a reward for staying close to you / holding your hand. If you find natural history museum really busy science museum is close by the garden downstairs (not really garden more exploratory stuff) is good.
Make her hold your hand, ensure she goes ahead on escalators and knows to keep walking at the end of them (though mostly stairs for District/Circle lines).
Take your time and if it gets crowded hold her on the side by the wall and suggest she wave her other hand in the air - my kids 4 & 7 do this to reduce idiots bumping into their heads.
Also when you come out of the subway at South Kensington, you can see the NHM but if you go so it's on your left, there's the Earth Galleries entrance which usually has no queue compared to 10 min or so at the main one (was there on Tuesday). Though you can't pretend you're in Andy's Dinosaur Adventures.
you'll be fine off peak, just keep hold of her hand when it gets busy. Be ready at the barriers with tickets and keep moving once through them. On the train, if spaces are limited, have her sit on your lap to save getting death stares from people. If standing, keep away from the doors as they open on different sides and you can get swept up as people get on/off.
I've done the Science Museum with a 4yo and a 9mo. Had baby in carrier and held hands with 4yo. Before we went, I explained how important it was to hold hands and wait for Mummy to tell him when to step off trains as some of the gaps between trains and platforms are quite big. He was so absorbed by the new experience that he was exceptionally well behaved
and he's usually a bit of a dick so hopefully your little one will be the same. Also the promise of some pennies to choose something in the gift shop at the end was helpful ;)
Should be fine.
When DD was a bit younger than that I used to take a book to read her, or a comic to look at to keep her entertained if it was a long tube journey. But I'd imagine if its her first time on the tube she'll just be interested in looking around.
Generally I find off peak, people are nice - sometimes move seats so you can sit together, don't mind the slow walking down the stairs, just as long as you're on the correct side on the escalator!
We generally have a rule of either sitting down or stand against the wall when waiting for the train, hold hands at all times. Don't forget to look for the driver when the train comes in the station!
You'll have to go through the larger gates, which are usually signed but can sometimes be more difficult to see. Make sure she's in front of you before you tap the card reader and then walk through quickly. In central London there may well be a slight queue for those gates.
When you're changing between lines etc, just stay at the sides holding hands and get her involved in looking for the signs, tell her what colour line to look out for.
V and A has a lovely paddling pool in the middle.
Watch the escalators. My child at a similar age somehow
fuck knows how managed to trap his foot in the bottom of the escalator and it torn a chunk out of his shoe (he was lucky it wasn't his foot). He was stood in front of us but too close to the side I think.
That hiccup aside we had a great day - may be worth booking entry tickets to NHM as we had to queue for quite a while to get in.
Not exactly what you're asking... but... If you have time and it's sunny, do also go to the Diana Memorial playground while you're in London. It's 20 mins by bus, or a longish walk across the park. But it's absolutely fantastic! Bring spare clothes so she can paddle, and make sure you explore all the different areas.
Thank you so much for so many useful suggestions.
Preparing her for what to do if we get separated sounds sensible, although slightly concerned about terrifying her!
I will definitely write my phone number on her. (I think we have a wrist band for this somewhere.)
Thanks for the suggestions of other places to visit too. It's good to have some ideas in case the natural history museum doesn't work out for some reason; we can always return to do more sites if we enjoy our trip.
It will be fine. My 4 year old and I have been on the Tube since he was 6 months old. We travel daily and we are the Science Museum a lot. The Natural History Museum has insane queues so we pop in next door or the V&A. Just use the big gates, and you will be fine. Can she read? DS loves taking his little map with him and following the signs. The only thing I would say is that some gaps are a bit big (South Ken is fine) and I would get off first and then grab her and bring her down.
Thanks for all the helpful suggestions.
We had a lovely day out and I managed not to lose her! I wrote my phone nr on her arm in biro, which (thankfully) wasn't needed. On the underground she got pretty good at the escalators, and I carried her through the barriers and on/off trains.
The museum was excellent. We arrived ten minutes before it opened, so probably had a bigger queue than if we'd arrived at 10:30... it didn't seem to matter too much though. No queue for the dinosaurs, which was the important thing!
Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions. Being able to prepare her, and knowing what she was likely to struggle with were a really big help.
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