The trials and tribulations of having young children in London

From navigating through crowds with a heavy buggy to dashing across boroughs for a nursery pick-up. No-one said having children in London would be easy.

The commutes, long working hours and quick pace of life can be exhausting at the best of times, even before you add a toddler into the mix!

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having young children in london

While many people choose to move out of the capital before raising a child, lots of us can’t imagine being anywhere else. Whether it’s because this is where we find our friends and families, or because we believe that nowhere will ever match this city, we’re staying put.

After all, there really isn’t anywhere like London.

Although we love it, London challenges us every day. The eye-watering cost of living somehow never fails to catch us off-guard. Renting or buying a property in London costs a small fortune – especially one with enough space to accommodate a family. But compromise is our forte. Londoners are stoic about making the best of less-than-adequate space (a bedroom that’s also a living room and kitchen? No problem!).

While many parents dream of picket fences and barbeques in big, open gardens, Londoners are happy to have a patio or even a window box! Garden space is in high demand and comes with a premium price to match. We all worry that lack of space means our children can’t run around as much as we’d like. It may result in just a little bit more CBeebies screen-time than we’d like, not to mention at least 10,000 viewings of Frozen…

Luckily for us, London makes up for its scarce gardens with an incredible array of parks and green spaces, from the well-loved Hyde Park to off-the-beaten-track hidden gems (see some great ones here)! You’ll also find lots of well-kept, imaginatively designed playgrounds that will keep your little one entertained for hours. These are perfect places to enjoy some fresh air, and a get together with friends and to allow your children to socialise (crucial for their development, health and overall happiness).

While most parents around the country use a car to get around, Londoners are well-versed in tubes, buses and pounding the pavements with our own two feet! Hoisting a creaky buggy, five shopping bags and a sleepy baby onto the bus is a fine art. We’ll master it one day. The next challenge is keeping your little ones quiet, happy and occupied during long public transport journeys (mostly to avoid the sideways glances and ‘helpful’ suggestions).

We’d rather not let our children play Candy Crush Saga, but sometimes there’s no alternative…

When we don’t have our noses in a stranger’s armpit, we’re trying to find time to take a breath and unwind! Juggling parenthood with all of life’s other responsibilities is difficult for anyone, and sometimes we feel like we’re always on the go. Running a brush through your hair while sprinting for the bus, writing emails while cooking dinner, putting your child’s socks on while they’re stubbornly wriggling on the tube – sound familiar? Even if most of your meals seem to be grab-and-go bagels and strong coffees, there are loads of amazing ways to relax in London. We love free galleries like the Tate Modern, evening walks down the South Bank or sunset picnics on Primrose Hill.

And, come the weekend, Londoners get to enjoy the city’s truly unique culture and attractions. From the Natural History and Science museums to the food festivals, music events and historical sites, London is a fantastic place for children’s education.

There are literally hundreds of things to do that will fill your child with wonder and curiosity, and give them a love of learning that will stay with them for life.

Of course, with all of London’s incredible attractions come, well, a lot of people. Busy, bustling streets can sometimes feel overwhelming for parents and young children, and they can also make your city feel anonymous and unfamiliar. In smaller towns we might know everyone’s names, greet them on the streets and have a huge bank of potential babysitters. Not so much here.

But Londoners remember that the capital’s size and diversity is invaluable. Meeting new people every day is rewarding and fulfilling – especially for our little ones. Building different relationships with people from all walks of life helps to enrich and inform your child’s development, giving them never-ending opportunities to learn. In their precious early years, children in London interact with different people from all walks of life, and they’ll cherish these friendships for years to come.

Despite its sprawling size and massive population, and perhaps because of it, we know the importance of a little community spirit. Public spaces, community centres and neighbourhood initiatives are valuable parts of Londoners’ lives, and they are fantastic for our children’s development.

So for all its frustrating traffic jams, mystery smells, tourist-packed streets and constant noise, we know London is a uniquely beautiful place to be a parent. Raising children in London is tough, but we get to reap the rewards of a vibrant, colourful and exciting environment that helps them to learn and grow every day.

What do you love, or love to hate, about having children in London? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

At LEYF Nurseries we care about London’s families. We know that becoming a parent changes your life forever. No one’s ever really ready for it. That’s why we’re with you through all the unpredictable joy of parenthood – through the surprises and the silliness, the colour and the chaos, the mess and the magic.

To find your place at our family of nurseries visit and to keep up to date with our news and blogs, follow us on Facebook and Twitter

About London Early Years Foundation

The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) are the UK’s largest childcare social enterprise with 38 nurseries across London, 15 of which have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. LEYF provides award winning care and education to children under 5 and were recently named ‘Nursery Group of the Year 2015’ by Nursery Management Today. They write regularly, sharing tips and advice on all things early years and child development from their expert nursery staff.

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