Having a baby without a doubt turns your life on its head. That’s not a big surprise when you’re suddenly caring for another human 24 hours a day. To begin with life does feel almost totally consumed by feeding, changing and comforting this sweet little person and catching a nap yourself when you can. Life looks a lot less intense almost a year along the road but one thing I’ve been trying to do since the very beginning in order to keep my sanity and my number one tip for a happier experience is to GET OUT THE HOUSE!
In the very early days that often just looked like a trip round the block, to the park, to a friend’s house nearby or to a cafe round the corner for some lunch that’s cooked for me (woop) and a sleeping baby from the journey, leaving me open to sneak in some emails. There were some days where I felt a bit low and deflated, when things just seemed like a bit of an uphill battle when it came to staying positive and it was usually then that I realised I’d made the grave mistake of not leaving the house all day! As soon as I was out in the fresh air, around other human beings and with a helpful change of scenery I had the lift I needed. As the whole newborn experience got a less intense, I was able to take Maggie on little adventures around London. Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you can’t still make the most of what the city has to offer right on your doorstep. Sure, it’s different to when you’re a one woman band or a couple or just out with your pals but all it takes is some forward planning and a bit of advanced prep to make it work.
Having recently received Maggie’s new, compact set of wheels in the form of The City Tour LUX from Baby Jogger, we wanted to take it for a spin to somewhere a little more interesting than our local parks, nice as they are. I’ll take you along for a little day in the life of our adventure to Kew Gardens and how we make that sort of thing work with our very nearly one year old.
Wake up call!
These days Maggie will wake up any time between 6 and 7am but of course she doesn’t get the memo when it comes to bank holiday Mondays so we give in to her groans at 6.20, still riding high with delight from our 7.10am lie in the day before! I usually go and get Maggie up and I’m mostly greeted by a wave at the moment which is so unbelievably sweet. I change her nappy if there’s a smelly night gift lingering and then we head down stairs where she has a feed from me, usually displaying typical hangry signs until nipple is in mouth and voila, she’s a new woman! Nick makes us our breakfast smoothies while she feeds because I’m also a little hangry at this point. I’ve never been one of those crazy people who can skip breakfast without a second thought. Pre-Maggie we would mostly have a cooked breakfast of sorts and whilst that’s actually surprisingly quick we surrendered to the ultimate queen of speed and limited clean up of a nutribullet when bugs came along. We add some high quality protein powder to make it more substantial and keep us going longer and it works a treat! We’ll usually let Maggie play / attempt to pull herself up on anything and everything while we read the bible and pray together for a bit whilst we slurp down our smoothies.
Then I take Maggie up to her room to get her changed into a suitable outfit for the day which in this current ‘in-between’ climate is a little challenging, having been used to an intense heatwave where lived in rompers or bloomers. It’s only in the last week that I’ve realised she owns no socks that fit her! She mostly hates been dressed at the moment and this morning is no exception. She somehow gets hold of the baby nail scissors and her world temporarily falls apart when I price her little fingers open and take them out of her hand. When the cries die down she’s ready. I’m trying her in a pair of shoes because as I said, we have a sock issue.
Then I take her back down and let her play some more. She’ll crawl or shall we say prowl from room to room, mostly happy to explore and snack on any stray food or dust from the floor (I’ve given up trying to stop her). I use this time to get showered and dressed. One of us keeps an eye on her while the other’s in the shower and usually we have enough time to get washed, clothes and make up (just me on that one) on before she starts losing the plot a bit because it’s her breakfast time.
We want to get out and about as early as possible to give us maximum time before she needs to nap so the plan is for her to eat her breakfast and lunch on the road. She’s down to one nap a day now and she’s no longer great at sleeping in any buggy. She’ll fall asleep in it if she’s on the brink but it’s never going to be the hefty, deep 2.5-3.5 hour sleep she’d have in her cot at home. Our plan is to leave at 8.30am but we aren’t as on time as we’d hoped. I’d packed her lunch the night before with an assortment of things to pick at from pre cooked meals. On the menu today is slow cooked pork and onions with potato and avocado. I just need to whip her up some scrambled eggs and spinach for breakfast along with some salmon and blueberries that I’ve already potted up. We have an abundance of glass pots with BPA free clip lids which makes me feel so much better about taking her food with us on the go.
Then I pack all the essentials like her water, bib, Nurofen just in case we have a teething freak out, a muslin, wet wipes, change mat, some toys, a dummy just in case we don’t make it back in time for her nap at home and so with that in mind I also pack her ear defenders because they’re very handy for muffling loud noises. Gone are the days when she could have slept through an earthquake.…sigh. One of the things I instantly noticed about the City Tour Lux was how much room there is in the under basket, considering it’s such a compact buggy. There’s much more space than we’re used to so I don’t have to fill her changing bag to the brim.
Off to the station
Kew Gardens is only a 12 minute journey on the train from the station just across the park from where we live. Very convenient and as we have a membership we don’t need to think twice about just popping there for a morning. We set off ready for a family morning out. The City Tour LUX is easy to push and the wheels, although small in size, have some bounce to them. I know lots of buggies I’ve tried out in the past have had wheels that feel quite hard, without much give at all which I can’t help but think must make for a rough ride for baby. It’s easy to manoeuvre on the platform and onto the train. It’s important that London buggies are zippy as getting on and off public transport is a regular occurrence, but a compact size is equally important for squeezing into the people gaps. Thankfully the train is almost empty this morning as most people were clearly still in bed on bank holiday Monday. She chomped down her brekkie which at this point was being served later than advertised but she just about managed to hold it together. I use a travel bib that folds back in on itself so that I can pop it back in the bag after using with no mess. Suddenly we’re at the station and I jump up, give her a quick wipe down while Nick pops everything back in the bag and we jump off, in such a hurry that I leave her bonnet on the train. Very sad.
Navigating the Gardens
As soon as you arrive at Kew Gardens station there’s a railway bridge that you need to cross to get to the other side. There’s talk of an underpass on the intercom but we can never find this mysterious tunnel with no stairs. Please let me know if you’ve sussed this out. The buggy is so easy to lift that we just take her over the bridge ‘princess-in-carriage’ style, oh to be young again. Having said that, if you were on your own it would be so so easy to just collapse the buggy to climb the stairs. We did this in order to go up to the top layer of the tropical glasshouse. It’s very simple to do, folds in half completely and has a lock to keep it in place, something I haven’t had in the past. It sounds so simple but it’s a total game changer and with that and the strap that you can put over your shoulder, it means there’s then another arm to hold baby with.
On the way to the gates I stop and get a tea because I hadn’t yet had my cup this morning and for some reason it always tastes better when someone else has made it! We swiftly realise that the only other people in the gardens as early as us are fellow parents. We were fortunate to have a peaceful walk around with some of the only bank holiday sunshine rays of the day. The City Tour LUX thankfully has a hood that folds all the way over to keep Maggie well shaded and it’s pretty handy for blocking out lots of the light if you do want your baby to nap in the buggy. We also noticed how water resistant the material that covers the hood and seat is. It wasn’t raining but brushing through various newly watered plants, we noticed how any water droplets just sat on top of the fabric. Very clever!
The Temperate House is newly reopened so we head there for a wonder around and Maggie enjoys perusing the various plants, often reaching out to grab the heads of flowers and us tapping her hand away. I’m sure its baffling why one can’t chew on temperate plant life when you’re a one year old. We saunter around the lake and through the rose bushes to the main palm house and despite it getting busier at this point it’s easy to dart around people with such a zippy little buggy.
Soon enough Maggie’s starting to get a little grouchy so we head back to the station and I whip out her lunch on the platform to save the day. Thankfully it’s not a long wait or journey because we can certainly see those little eyes glazing over, longing for a snooze. We try to keep her awake as we walk back through the park. This feels like a regular occurrence as she’s still adjusting to being awake for longer periods of time and I hear ya Maggie, stick me in a moving vehicle and I’m on a fast track to the land of nod too. Thankfully the City Tour LUX has a ventilated peep hole in the hood so I’m able to spot if little miss is nodding off. I really like this addition as once you have the seat facing forwards it can be tricky to see what they’re up to when you’re pushing. We don’t win the danger nap battle as she falls asleep 5 minutes from home but thankfully like trained baby ninjas we manage to transfer her almost seamlessly into her cot.
A family day out and back in time for midday! If anything’s made me feel like I a parent then it’s that! We had the whole afternoon ahead of us but because we’d ventured out and already had plenty of fresh air, we were happy to just chill out on the sofa in our comfy clothes watching crime series episodes and drinking tea all afternoon. Not a bad bank holiday all round really. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to make the effort to get out the house even just for a few hours and take a little adventure somewhere. Maggie’s always loved being in the buggy. To begin with it was to sleep and now it’s to see all the sights around her, the people, the trees, the cars, the flowers and more importantly the dogs. Even if your little one gets bored of being in a buggy too long, just take them somewhere they can get out and run and crawl around at the end. In the heatwave (RIP) I took Maggie out most days for a lunchtime picnic in the various parks near us. We got to eat out doors and she got to have a bit of a crawl around on the picnic blanket and ‘woof’ at the dogs passing by. The City Tour LUX makes little adventures in the city easy rather than intimidating, so with a little forward planning you’re away!
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