What can I do when I’ve got the kids on my own in London?
1) Don’t bother Mum.
Ask about their routine a few days before if you don’t already know it. If they have one, write it down and stick too it. If they’re used to eating lunch at 12.30pm, it could transpire into a nightmare if you sit down to order at 2pm! Trust me. On that note, have a pocket full of snacks. Raisins are a great bargaining tool. Chocolate buttons are even better, but one goes a long way!
2) Call a family member or the most sensible of your male friends to spend the day with. Better still if they have children of their own.
3) Plan your day into 3 sections. Morning activity, lunch and an afternoon activity.
4) I suggest Regent’s Park if it’s sunny. There are playgrounds, an outdoor theatre and a lake where you can hire rowing boats. In the summer, brass bands play in the bandstands. If you get bored, London Zoo is very close and children adore it. Feeding time at the penguin pool is at 2pm every day.
6) If it’s a dismal rainy day I suggest the Tower of London. Boys will like to know about enemies of the Kings and Queens who had their heads chopped off. Girls will like to see the Crown Jewels.
7) You can easily have lunch at any of the above places and a picnic in the park is always a lovely idea. If you do want to book somewhere special, kids love The Rainforest Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue. There’s no lift so prams are a bit of a bore but the staff there are used to helping people. The food is great for kids and you sit in a rain forest surrounded by life-sized animals that move and make sounds. Buying a present on the way in or the way out is a great plan, but let them choose one thing, not a hundred!
8) Harrods is a boring but good call. The toyshop is gigantic and there is something for everyone. The pet department is also worth a look. They often have puppies on show. The Diner on the 4th floor is great for a burger and you can finish off with a frozen yogurt at Yoo Moo if you want to score brownie points with Mum or The Ice Cream Parlour on the 2nd floor. Kids also go mad for the Dunkin Donuts on the ground floor.
9) M and M World. If you want to end with a bang, take your children to this world of chocolate. 35,000 square feet set over four floors. The wall of chocolate where you can create your own selection of M and Ms from over 100 choices is a must!
10) Wherever you go, buy a present for Mum. Chocolates are never a bad idea.
Remember, the most important thing to do is keep your children safe. Your wife will most likely be freaking out all day so send a text message or a picture of the kids saying, “We love you”. Don’t take your eyes of them for a single second. If you’re looking after a baby, hold onto them! If it’s a toddler, reins are great which you can get from John Lewis or a little backpack with a holdall from Little Life.
If something awful happens, keep calm and breath. Children worry if they see you panic.
Take a stash of sweets, wet wipes and a few little toys for meltdowns. Remember nappies if they still need them and a spare change of clothes is a good idea for any young one. Don’t forget a carton of juice of a beaker of water – you don’t want them getting dehydrated.