Disclaimer: As with anything the time has come for me to move to my own online place and become an adult in the blogging world. That is why I would very much like to welcome you to my new website pavlydovely.com. Here I will be duplicating my content from my previous WordPress-based blog for the next few months, to make the transition a bit easier and smoother. However, if things go well, my old blogging space will need to stay in the past and as of the beginning of next year for sure I will only be posting at my new address here. It is still in the working phase, but I hope to be able to surprise you some fresher looks and posts, so keep an eye on it J
When we moved to our new apartment, my husband had a really thorough walk around the neighbourhood on Google maps. We were super happy to find out that there were nearly 6 playgrounds within walking distance from our place. That, in our heads, meant that our son would have a wide choice of places to meet and play with other children. However, we’ve already been to all of these playgrounds and, unfortunately, the children are nowhere to be found. Almost every time we go to one of those places, they are empty. Occasionally, there will be some teenagers eating snacks and drinking soft drinks but that’s it. There are usually no younger children playing on the swings and slides. And that’s a pity considering how well maintained they are. Where we come from playgrounds are gathering points for both children and parents. There’s usually not even enough equipment for all the children to play altogether at the same time. It’s also a social thing that brings both parents and children from the same neighbourhood together. Thus, they get to know each other, make new friends and exchange experience, which is what we were expecting to find here.
I quickly became aware that due to a number of different circumstances, two of which being the weather and the short maternity leave women get here, parents were meant to find alternative forms of entertainment for their children. These observations were the ones that led to us starting to look for a nursery much sooner than we had planned. Not only was I still on maternity leave, so we did not need to have somebody else look after our little one, but nurseries in England are, let’s face it, quite expensive. My husband’s version – as much as the monthly payment for a house and a nice car; my version – the entire salary of some people. But we wanted our son to be able to spend some time with other children and that was one way of achieving it.
The good thing is that, unlike where we come from, nurseries in the UK are much better. We were super pleased to find out that they usually have one girl responsible for 3-4 children. Back home the ratio is 1 to 20. The settling-in sessions were a huge comfort. They gave our son time to gradually get used to the new people and environment. In addition, the early development review was a huuge bonus. That’s something we didn’t know about and it was good to know that they will follow-up on his progress in the individual areas and will actively support him where he is lacking or falling behind. The facilities and the lovely attitude from the girls, who work there, were all so reassuring. And even though we started with him going for just a couple of mornings, he is now comfortably visiting the nursery for three whole days per week and seems to be feeling quite settled and happy about his new adventures there.
The other place we found that children go to, were the play-sessions organized at the Children’s centres in the area. I had my doubts about these at first, even though I was aware that they existed.
The main reason was that the one closest to our home is situated in an area, which I am in two minds about. And that is mainly because of the people living there. They gave me the impression that these play-sessions were mostly visited by poor families, where parents are living off benefits, and drink a lot. I am not prejudiced against people with lower incomes. It is just that the ones I’ve seen coming out from the homes surrounding that particular Children’s centre were exactly the type of people you wouldn’t want your child to grow around and have as an example. For example, once I saw two girls sitting on the pavement in front of a house and the dad was drunk behind them holding what seemed like yet another beer. I must say that when it comes to my son I don’t want him to grow up in such an environment.
What changed my mind was a chance encounter with a very nice mum of two. Surprise, surprise – we met at one of the playgrounds near where we live. She reassured me that these play-sessions are really good. Turns out that lots of children go to them, creating contacts with other little ones their age. She even told me which were the really good ones to go to and so we did. My son usually spends the first couple of days of the week at home with me and these are the days we go to such activities. One of these, I was super happy to find out, was a messy play one. This is such a blessing because living in a rented apartment makes it difficult to engage in such activities at home.
I am super pleased with these, because they offer a great variety of toys and activities. With so many options there are bound to be many that your child hasn’t seen before but will be interested in. Where we go, there’s sometimes snack time and they always finish with singing songs, which my son loves. Not to mention that I’ve learned some new local ones as well.
Naturally, we do sometimes skip these sessions. If the weather outside is really good we choose to go to a park, which is 20min away from where we live. It is a great place for outdoor activities and often times there are other children there as well.
This is the third place, where we’ve found that parents take their children to. There are a number of parks in our area, but only one is within walking distance. It’s a very good one, nonetheless, and the facilities are great. On weekends it’s full of children of various ages and it’s so much fun. There’s a nice cafe where parents can grab a hot drink and take it to the playground. There are also lots of animals like rabbits, ducks and swans. Not to mention that it also offers some really nice walks in the nature. I know that’s not too interesting for our toddler but it’s good to have this opportunity.
To be continued…
So this is our experience so far. I would love to find out about other local activities suitable for really young children. That’s why if you have any suggestions as to where one can find information about these – please let me know. I know that with the upcoming holidays there will be lots of things to do.
I hope that was useful for you. Please do let me know what your experience with these is, if you have any.