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I’m a Tourist Baby – Baby Friendly London & Kensington Palace

Baby Friendly London - Kensington Palace - places to go with baby and children in London. Reviewed and accessible! baby-brain.co.uk

Baby Friendly London, and tourist adventures! This is also relevant to the wellbeing and mental health page where I discuss various activity ideas for fun times but also to reduce cabin fever and increase mood. Be a tourist in your own town, or actually go somewhere and be a tourist, with or without baby.

Anyway – here’s some things the Little Lovely got up as a Tourist, Baby.

 

 

Kensington Palace, London, England, UK – Website here

 

Age when visited: 7 months, 1 week

 

Baby Friendly London - Kensington Palace - places to go with baby and children in London. Reviewed and accessible! baby-brain.co.uk

What is there to do?

Well, in honour of Price George of Cambridge’s first birthday (2014) we went to the Palace (Kate and Wills have an apartment here)! Well actually, it wasn’t in honour of his birthday, we were just going anyway but when we got there we saw some birthday banners and balloons up for him, as you can see in the pictures above of the Little Lovely outside the Palace gates.
  • Princess Diana’s Dresses: Look back at fashion as worn by HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales.
  • Playing with Victorian style toys at Kensington Palace. Baby Friendly London - places to go with baby. Reviewed by baby-brain.co.uk

    Interactive: Baby playing with Victorian era toys at Kensington Palace

    Queen Victoria: Learn about her life and see what kind of toys they had in the nursery! We played with some of them (not the originals, I assume – see picture). I got told off for sitting on the carpet with no shoes on, though. So keep your shoes on. I’ll assume the baby was fine to go shoeless.
  • Other: Explore the gardens and Orangery – Works of art – the Queen’s State Apartments and King’s State Apartments. There is also a shop.

 

The pictures below are of the main entrance room, with LL posing under a picture of Princess Diana, then in the royal nursery playing with some toys, in another room in the palace, and then spark out and tired at the end of a busy day as a tourist, baby.

tourist baby - activity ideas with baby - Kensington Palace London UK. baby-brain.co.ukEating:

There is a cafe in the Orangery and Palace. I went to the Palace cafe and there are highchairs and kid’s meals available, such as children’s sandwich bags. If you want to bring your own food or do a picnic in the park the nearest shops are a bit of a walk away, and the cafe has tourist cafe prices, so stop off at the shops on the way if you prefer this cheaper option!

Baby and Toddler facilities:

There are changing facilities available. I don’t think there were any specific feeding or breastfeeding areas but a friend and I fed in the entrance area on some comfy seats and no one cared.

Accessibility for prams and those less able to use stairs:

There are lifts to most areas. Staff were very helpful and led me through a step-free route to view the fashion and Princess Diana’s dresses with my pram. I don’t know if this was a temporary arrangement or if this route is usually accessible without staff assistance. But either way, the staff were helpful and you could always ask if unsure. The website also writes that:
There is level access from Kensington Gardens to the palace, a lift to all floors and wheelchairs and portable seating to borrow during your visit. We also offer Describer Tours for blind and partially sighted visitors as well as facilitating British Sign Language tours.

In all, a reasonably baby friendly day out, and there’s the gardens/park to explore as well!

 

Why give up your seat on public transport for a pregnant woman?

 

 

Why give up your seat on public transport for a pregnant woman? Some views, discussion, and examples of refusal.

 

 

Here’s a little riddle for you:

Two people get on a tube train at the same stop, there is one free seat. Passenger no. 1 gets on first and so goes to the seat, he starts to sit down and his backside has only just touched the chair when the second passenger very politely says, “excuse me, do you mind if I sit down because I’m pregnant?”. Who gets the seat? The pregnant woman or the man?

  • Answer →→ → It wasn’t the pregnant woman.

  • I witnessed this today on a busy tube train.

 

To continue the story….. So as I was saying above, the woman asks the man for the seat. The man sits and then waves his hands toward the priority seat next to him and says “there’s a priority seat there why don’t you ask them” in a dismissive and harsh tone. Slightly confused and embarrassed by this, the pregnant woman looks at the woman in the priority seat and asks again, “do you mind if I sit down”. Before she can barely finish the priority seat woman says “I feel dizzy so no”. Ok, says the pregnant woman.
She now probably feels quite exposed and embarrassed, and maybe is starting to feel a bit stressed. She looks at the woman in the priority seat opposite but she has massive headphones on. The pregnant woman isn’t sure how to address her seeing as she probably wouldn’t be able to hear and the pregnant woman doesn’t want to start shouting across the carriage DO YOU MIND IF I SIT DOWN, I’M PREGNANT? Does the initial refusing man, on hearing that the priority seat cannot be vacated, then change his approach and offer his seat after all (I mean, seeing as his displacement tactic seemed to fail)? – no he does not.
Fortunately, two people who are sitting nearby witness all this and offer their seats. The pregnant woman probably just wants to get off the train after experiencing this, but gratefully accepts one of the seats and says thank you several times. She wants to give the refusing man a few words and ask why he acted like this? But, she is too upset to start getting into a conversation and embarrassed because the whole carriage has witnessed this event so keeps quiet and looks sad in her seat.

 

 

To the woman who felt dizzy, ok fair enough, maybe you did and I respect that. To the woman with the headphones on, ok, of course you can listen to music on the train, no issue, it just kind of makes it difficult for people to approach you if you’re in the priority seat and the person is already feeling self conscious and had a hard enough time from two passengers already. Maybe this is similar to the frequent observation of seeing people in the priority seats with their eyes closed (conveniently closed when we get to the next station and passengers start piling on), or paper in front of their faces so that communication with them is made extremely difficult and they don’t have to notice anyone who might be a priority.
My issue is with the original refuser. If the pregnant woman got on the train and he was already sitting there then of course, why would she ask him? She would ask those in the priority seats. But she asked him because they both got on the train, her one second behind him, it’s not like he had been sitting there for ages and she booted him out of the seat. Two people, one seat, one person explicitly says to the other I’m pregnant, do you mind if I sit – possibly a reasonable thing to ask in that situation??

 

  • oh an by the way – original refuser (i’m going to call him weasel man, because he looked like a weasel, and also acted like one but i’m going more on his looks) – do you know what every pregnant woman really REALLY wants?? Why, it’s stress, humiliation, having to justify herself in front of a carriage load of strangers and being made to feel like crap!! Of course it is. Well, congratulations because this morning, you helped her achieve that. The stress was especially welcomed, i’m sure! We all know what a good impact that has on the body, don’t we, and let’s not mention the high levels of cortisol and potential impact on the baby… Words can not describe, but I hope you are ashamed of yourself, except, i’m sure you’re not and you probably boasted about your response and complained bitterly and laughed about the “sense of entitlement” some pregnant woman displayed to you on the train, with your sad little friends down the pub (if you have any friends). 

 

Now anyway, back to the issue. I know some people disagree with pregnant women being able to safety sit down on public transport and having to give up a seat for them. Well, to those people and their comments, I have some responses, see below. The issues below are inspired by comments I have read from other people about such situations, either in on-line articles, or sometimes in the free newspaper you get on the tube…

 

  • Pregnant women have an overinflated sense of entitlement, I’m not giving up my seat to some princess just because they have a baby on board badge on:
    Pregnant women either do not ask to sit down because they are too concerned to approach someone, or they politely ask someone in the priority seat because THAT’S WHAT THE PRIORITY SEAT IS FOR. And, like every “group” of people in life, there are going to be some group members that might come across as a bit more pushy, but if you were carrying another life inside your body you might be a bit protective too.

 

  • Pregnant women are not ill (or it’s not a disability), so why should they sit down?:
    No, pregnancy is not an illness, but yes women can feel ill. In the first trimester (and beyond for some) they can feel incredibly nauseous (and of course, be sick), dizzy, overwhelming tiredness, aches and pains. Later in pregnancy you can suffer all sorts of problems including back pain, ligament pain, jimmy legs (restless legs) and probably many more issues. No, pregnancy is not an illness or disability, but the person might need to sit down due to many of the reasons mentioned above, which are not necessarily affecting non-pregnant people. Also, try walking around with an 8lb baby inside you all day. Ok.

 

  • I have my own physical health problems or disabilities that are not noticeable (i.e., you wouldn’t be able to notice by looking at the person that they do in fact need to sit down). I can’t just go and demand a seat like the pregnant woman, why can’t I go around with this same sense of entitlement and seat taking behaviour as the pregnant woman when I also need to sit? Why should they get to sit down?:
    I’m sorry if it is difficult for you to stand on public transport and you have a valid point in wanting to sit. The priority seat is for people who are pregnant, disabled or less able to stand. As people often instruct the pregnant woman to do, maybe ask for seat and give your reasons. As mentioned, I saw a woman in the priority seat say to a pregnant woman she “felt dizzy” so couldn’t give up her seat. The pregnant woman accepted this. Maybe other passengers would listen if you asked to sit down too. I understand that you shouldn’t have to justify or give your life story in order to sit down, but unfortunately, other people can be mindless and need some prompting, as the pregnant woman will probably tell you after the 100th time she has stood in front of someone on a train, rubbing a massive bump and no one has noticed.

 

  • Pregnant women should be at home, or, if you’re that “incapacitated” you shouldn’t be travelling:
    Do I really have to provide ANY response to this in order to support a pregnant person’s position?! Well ok, just for a start, we all have things to do, places to go, jobs, appointments, lives, pregnant women do not sit at home knitting for 9 months. Many women decide to work up until a few weeks or even the week of their due date, either for financial reasons, work pressures or because the more maternity leave you take before the baby is born the less you have to use afterwards. Some women don’t want to waste a month of maternity leave sitting at home prior to baby’s arrival. They are also not incapacitated, they are growing a child inside their bodies and might not be able to stand for long due to all the reasons above about health complaints during pregnancy and also safety aspects, as I will discuss below.

 

  • Women complain about gender inequality but then say things like ohhh the age of chivalry is gone, men should give up their seats, etc etc, you can’t have it both ways!:
This is not about chivalry, this is not about gender equality, this is about safety. That woman represents two lives, and one is quite fragile. Or, she is unwell and it would be difficult to stand for a long period. Maybe she could stand in front of you and then puke all over you when the nausea finally gets too much, would that be preferable?

 

The reason I would ask for a seat (when pregnant): Because I’m tired, dizzy, feel sick, but most importantly for me, because IT’S NOT SAFE TO GET SQUASHED AND THROWN AROUND ON A CROWDED TUBE TRAIN (or, insert other transport method here) WHEN PREGNANT.

  • I have been pushed, completely squashed and wedged between other passengers, hit (accidently – but required me going to the minor injuries unit and the perpetrator didn’t even notice he’d done it even when I tried to point it out), bulldozed out the way by people trying to get off the train who don’t care about others, had people almost fall on me or fall over in my direction, and probably other incidents that I’ve forgotten about during my 10 or so years of commuting. This, fortunately, was not when I was pregnant although I did have a few people almost fall on me and a person drop their bag on the escalator in front of me when pregnant. The bag fortunately landed on my arm which I had out holding the hand rail, so everything was ok. Still a shock, though.

 

My main argument, then, is: it’s not safe to stand when pregnant, and if you are growing a life inside you then that becomes your priority and should, yes it should, give you entitlement to sit down. If you sit in the priority seat then be prepared to move. I am, and I have moved when asked (quite recently actually, by a women who wasn’t wearing a baby on board badge and didn’t “look pregnant”, but said she was, so ok, and I was in the priority seat). If you don’t want to get up then you have no empathy, awareness of others and their feelings or dignity. End

 

_________________________________________________________

 

If you want to read more about the “baby on board” badge issue, including some experiences from pregnant women, see here: http://www.ababyonboard.com/a-very-royal-baby-on-board-badge/
Unfortunately, there are worse experiences out there:
I did wear one [baby on board badge], after about 5 months people generally ignored it though – I was standing at 36 weeks. My worst two stories: the man who pushed in front of me to get the last seat realised I was heavily pregnant and then pretended to be asleep all the way and the delightful two young ladies who shouted at me and told me they hated people who thought a badge entitled them to a seat and that they wanted to sit down…I see shocking behaviour everyday of women with badges displayed and being totally ignored. (from ababyonboard.com, link above)
 

I really hope these are incredibly isolated incidents, but if not, remember, for all the inconsiderate, despicable “human beings” out there, there will be someone who does give a sh*t, and might help you out. Although, you might have to ask more than one passenger before you find them…

Maternal wellbeing and mental health

 

Maternal wellbeing and good mental health - activity ideas from a clinical psychologist on reducing cabin fever and keeping your mood healthy while on maternity leave/spending a lot of time with baby

Maternal wellbeing and mental health…. and paternal also. Let’s say actually that this is about “parent/caregiver wellbeing and mental health”.

 

Feeling a bit: “cabin fever”, hemmed in, fed up, stressed, low (depressed even)? – how to reduce these experiences somewhat during maternity leave or on an every day basis?

 

….do stuffSounds simple but I know that it isn’t always especially if one is stuck in a vicious negative cycle of low mood, lack of energy and motivation, overwhelming feelings.

Depending on your psychological stance, and mine believes in behavioural and cognitive theories, amongst others, there is a link between what you do, what you think, and how you feel. If you make changes to one of these areas (feelings, thoughts, behaviours), it will impact on the other areas. Doing stuff is therefore important because it will impact on your feelings and thoughts. This is a general Cognitive-Behavioural stance (see any references by Aaron T Beck, Christine Padesky,  or just Google cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for more on this).

 

Getting out and doing stuff is important because:

  • It gives structure to your day.

    • People usually like structure, the reliability of a weekly timetable where you know what to expect, when to expect it and to have certain anchor points to the week, for example, knowing that on Friday afternoon you go to that baby sensory class and see your friend the Nanny who looks after P the baby who is 4 months older than the Little Lovely.
  • You can plan enjoyable and meaningful activities, one gains a sense of achievement, mastery, accomplishment. 

  • There are physical benefits such as getting more exercise, energy expenditure

  • Social benefits:

    • increased opportunity to talk to other mothers/parents/carers and to share and make normal (normalize) issues and experiences. increased opportunity to talk about and therefore learn and share your collective knowledge, experience and resources that you have built up from from your experience as a parent or carer. For example, the Nanny who looks after P the baby tells me about teething and comments on LL’s physical development and what she notices has changed from the last time she has seen him. She has cared for several children in her career so what she tells me is nice to hear because I have only cared for one child for a relatively short period of time!

 

Activity Ideas

The cost of those baby classes can add up. Some ideas for activities are:

  • Baby classes

  • baby music class. baby-brain.co.uk Psychology resource and perspective on babies and motherhood

    I am the music boy – paying attention to the violin at music baby class

    Yes I know I just said they could be costly, but maybe there are 1 or 2 classes that you really like the sound of and just want to set aside some money to do those each week. If you do classes some tips I can think of are:
    • Ask for a trial first, or better still a free trial! Many classes and companies offer this, or a special deal whereby if you pay for the initial class you get the money back if you decide to book more classes. LL and I have done a few free trial classes. Some we did sign up for more lessons and some we didn’t because I didn’t feel they were for us or at least I didn’t want to commit to buying 10 classes.
    • Look for drop ins where you can pay by the session rather than being forced to sign up for a whole “course” or “term” of classes. I initially signed up for things like 10 sessions of a sensory baby class, and a term of a baby music class. To be fair, I did do a trial of the sensory class first but the music class didn’t allow it and I had to sign up for 12 weeks. This is annoying because unavoidably, baby is probably going to be asleep, ill, tired, screamy, any other thing you can think of to do with baby. You might also be ill, on holiday, can’t be bothered to drag you and baby out in pouring rain, etc,  at some point during the time of the class over the 12 weeks and you will miss some. If any of the above things occur, you then feel compelled to try to make it to the class anyway “because you’ve paid for it!” and want to get your moneys worth. And that is stressful and annoying, at least that’s what I found. I also found I didn’t like the music class any more after about 4 or 5 classes, and didn’t think it was worth the price, but then felt unable to get out of the situation.
    • I’m going to contradict myself slightly here – but if you HAVE to, or think it suits you better to sign up for a whole load of classes in one go then maybe see if there are any discounts to be had for booking several classes in one go. For example, the sensory baby lady let me have 5 more classes for the price of 4. Nice. I also booked a course of baby massage because it was cheaper to book the whole lot than pay by the class plus I got an additional 10% off. I have to add though, I booked these things right at the beginning of my maternity leave before I had experience of these kinds of things.
    • Cheap and Cheerful activities – such as a local play group that might ask for a token or small fee. For example, LL and I go to a playgroup in a local community centre where there are toys, soft play and then we all get in a circle and sing songs together and it only costs a couple of quid.

 

 

  • Free opportunities – using local free resources, from local services or other initiatives 

    • go to the park with baby. activity ideas maternal mental health and well being. baby-brain.co.uk psychological resource, perspective and blog on motherhood and babies

      Park life boy

      Check your local library for what activities they have. The ones near me do weekly groups for babies under 18 months and another for toddlers where we sing songs (like row row row your boat), nursery rhymes and there are toys put out for the kids. You get to meet and chat with other mums local to that area, entertain and bond with your child.

    • Local authorities and children’s centres also have free or heavily discounted play groups and activities such as “under 5’s soft play drop ins” and “under 1’s” sessions that usually just involve some toys, soft play, mats on the floor where baby can play safely and you can also meet other parents/carers.
    • Local or national initiatives – e.g. Parenting courses – some councils run free or discounted courses
    • I’m not sure what to name this point, but LL and I managed to do a free short course of baby massage because the teacher was in training and needed to run a real live group as part of her training requirements. I came across the opportunity when we were attending another activity and the trainee was there looking for parents she could sign up.
    • What’s around in your local area? Go on a sensory walk with baby and see what you can see, smell, touch, (taste?!), hear. Make stories about what you experience, as you experience it and afterwards, e.g. “do you remember when we saw that cat – wasn’t he happy, didn’t he purr, did you smell him! Wasn’t he soft” – etc etc. Even talk about what you’re going to do before hand and get baby curious.
    • Is there a sandpit – a zoo or animal centre – a park – or other free resources to visit?

 

Sensory walk with baby - what can you find outside your home? - baby-brain.co.uk activity ideas to increase mood reduce cabin fever when on maternity leave

Sensory walk with baby – what can you find outside your home?

 

  • Specific activities or groups

    • Baby feeding drop ins – some areas will have breastfeeding support groups that meet weekly. I hear that these can fill up quickly though, so once the room has enough mothers in it then you might have to wait.
    • There are also specific groups for certain members of a community such as deaf children and their parents/carers, special educational needs, dads/male carer groups, and so on

 

  •  Social

    • Just arranging to meet for a coffee with a friend, another parent, family member, or make it lunch even!
    • NCT groups, e.g. bumps and babies. Look up your local branch and find events here. Find out where your local group meets (mine meets in a pub!) – turn up and off you go – you can meet other local parents and there are usually some toys out to entertain the babies. Yes I know it can be daunting to go somewhere new and you might not know anyone there. I turned up at mine not knowing anyone at all but I had NOTHING in my schedule for Mondays and needed to get out of the house. I ended up having a really nice conversation with another mother about breastfeeding and the early months of LL’s life, and she had similar experiences to me. I have also since seen many of the mothers there at other local groups like the free library nursery rhyme singing group. So you get to see the same faces about and make contacts.
    • Going to the park with another mum/parent/family, and having fun on the swings (if your baby is old enough for swings!)
Go to the park with another family. Social activity ideas maternal mental health and well being. baby-brain.co.uk psychological resource, perspective and blog on motherhood and babies

Baby having fun on the swings

 

  • NOT BABY RELATED (gasp)

    • Plan in some “baby free time” to your schedule to ensure you are doing something different and even linked to your pre-baby life such as seeing old friends. Arrange to meet for a drink, dinner, chat with a friend or two, maybe old work colleagues or people you used to know before you were a parent who, gasp, don’t have children(!) and talk about non-child related issues.
    • Or, just go out and sit in a coffee shop, read the paper, eat some cake and enjoy some alone time.
    • Take a bath and read a book
    • Go on a date with your significant other – if you can find a babysitter or helpful family member

 

Maternal wellbeing and good mental health - activity ideas from a clinical psychologist on reducing cabin fever and keeping your mood healthy while on maternity leave/spending a lot of time with baby

Sarah wasn’t sure about the Renaissance fair

What if I’m not sure I can do these things? What if I’m not sure about or have concerns about socializing with others – what if i’m worried it will all go terribly  wrong?

  • That can be normal
  • Sometimes things don’t turn out as bad as we expect them to be
  • Can you try something and see how it goes?
    • If something seems too big or too much – can you break a goal down into smaller steps and try step one and see how that goes?
  • Can you predict what obstacles will get in your way to trying something and make plans or have ideas of what to do to address these?
  • Who can support you in trying one of your ideas/activities?

 

I’m sorry for not providing any links but any I provide would be specific to my local area so they won’t help much.

  • I’d suggest contacting your local library, children’s centre or council to find out more, or look at their websites. Also, ask other parents what activities they have found as LL and I have found and been recommended several things just through word of mouth

 

 

 

Please do not use the information posted here as a substitute for personalized mental health advice and treatment. Please consult your GP or any other relevant health care professional if you or those who know you are concerned about your well-being and mental health.

 

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