I’m Lee, a working parent to one year old Pea. We are currently South London residents but a relocation to Dublin is in the planning. Adjusting to motherhood has not been a natural or easy process for me. A traumatic birth swiftly followed by a severe but (mercifully) swift episode of postnatal illness left me struggling to reconcile my old self with my new role as someone’s Mum.
For me, the road to recovery has very much about getting us both out of the house and engaged in interesting activities. In the early days I tried a bunch of the usual Mum and Baby offerings but mostly felt awkward and out of place at these. If like me you cannot recall the words to a single nursery rhyme, cannot sing to save your life and are so desperately uncoordinated that you can’t deal with simple baby signing many parent and baby activities will be a stressful and uncomfortable experience. Venturing beyond our local area and to the many museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concerts halls and other cultural institutions that London has to offer opened up a whole other world of activities Pea and I could do together that were stimulating for both of us.
I took him to places I’ve never been to in more than a decade of being a Londoner, like Wigmore Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Old Vic. I took him to old favourites like Kew Gardens, Brockwell Park, the Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery, experiencing them differently with a baby in tow. I got full benefit from both my National Art Pass and my Oyster card to visit areas of London I’ve never had a reason to go to before such as North Finchley, Deptford and Kingston. I’ve caught more films at the cinema than any previous year on account of parent and baby screenings. We’ve experienced some pretty surreal moments thanks to a baby opera (yeah, that’s a thing) and the questionable use of Tubular Bells during a space-themed baby class.
There were wonderful days were everything came together perfectly – smooth transport connections, conveniently located baby change facilities and the absolute serenity of a classically trained musician’s performance of Clair de Lune while Pea napped. We’ve had frustrating days of rail delays, dickheads on buses, explosive nappies and inadequate changing facilities and missing a performance I’d already paid for due to my poor sense of direction and a Google maps fail. Despite the sometimes shitty days, the upshot of all this was a renewed appreciation of my adopted city tinged with a sense of loss at the impending move.
Now that I’m back at work, our cultural adventures are limited to my one non-working day and weekends. The move is absolutely the right thing for us but departing hunting for similar opportunities in Dublin has offset some of the sadness at leaving. I’m pleased to have found some very promising options. So, all of this is a very long-winded way of introducing the focus of this blog. It’s a place to review and reflect on some of our last London activities before the move as well as documenting our Dublin discoveries. While this is first and foremost a record for my own benefit if it is at all helpful to anyone out there with a baby or toddler to entertain in London or Dublin then that is a bonus and questions on any of our activities are welcomed.