Category Archives: Things to do

Have baby, will attempt city break

By the time you read this, we will be concluding a weekend away in Paris with Pip. Hopefully it will have been more oh la la than oh no.

We had a wonderful trip to the City of Love last Spring which you can read about here and here. Luckily I had my bump and a ridiculous woolly poncho to keep me warm as it even snowed at one point (at the end of March!) but the forecast seems a lot more reasonable this time around. Apart from the weather, there is one other aspect of our 2014 trip that will make a significant difference: the addition of a third holiday companion who while much smaller than his parents is infinitely more demanding!

We are only there for three nights this time, over Easter weekend, and in order to ensure we get the most out of our trip as possible a bit of forward thinking is required. For Christmas Mr Cath gave me the book Paris with Children, and the following has been gleaned from that and from some helpful websites. Most tips I found can apply to any city break, and there is also a bit of overlap with Elly’s New York pointers. As with last year we are renting an apartment – this time with a proper separate bedroom rather than just a partition. This way we can put Pip to bed in one room then have dinner in the other.

Paris seems a particular challenge for many families, and I found reams of off-putting articles such as this Telegraph one entitled “Paris with children: a city that is terrible for ‘les enfants'” and another warning “Paris, France – not so baby friendly”. I’m grateful that others have shared their experiences, however bad they were, as it means that hopefully our break can be less stressful. There are recurring themes such as a lack of baby-friendly places and transport nightmares that we can try and be as prepared as possible for.

Without further ado, here are my pre-Paris-preparations:

1. BYO high chair


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Rhymes with…

As Elphie becomes a bit more obviously sentient, or at least is awake for more hours of the day, there is a greater need to entertain her for the few minutes of this wakeful time when she can be persuaded that eating is not the ultimate form of entertainment. Grandmama and Jocelyn have been busting some nursery rhymes to plug this gap, so much so normal, but the more exciting thing and more fun for Elphie is that some of these have actions for babies!

Humpty Dumpty

Not the most complicated of interpretations of this nursery rhyme classic – basically you bounce the baby up and down in your lap and on the “fall” line, you tilt the baby to the side.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses, And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

You can also add an extra line at the end (“but I can!” giving the baby and big hug), if you feel your baby is traumatised by this dark and disturbing tale of a giant egg man (who was really a cannon).

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That’s edutainment!

I was going to post about something entirely different today when I came across the news that a Kidzania is opening in Westfield London in late 2014 / early 2015. This is hardly the usual fodder for this blog, dealing with a rather older age range, but was such an interesting yet bizarre concept that I felt I had to share…

Kidzania originated in Mexico City and is an alternative to the roller-coasters of traditional theme parks, instead taking roleplay to the max. Children aged 4-14 are given a passport and some KidZos currency and “flown” to Kidzania where they can run riot watching shows or buying a meal until they run out of cash, at which point they have to get a job. Large companies from the outside world (in other countries these have included companies like Domino’s Pizza, HSBC, American Airlines, NestlĂ©, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, DHL and Sony) are brand partners who run workplaces where an adult trains the kids in how to do something and then they produce it for the world (well the Kidzania world anyway). Kids can try out a load of professions from TV presenter to car manufacturer to checkout assistant to archaeologist to fire fighter to doctor etc.

It all sounds pretty bizarre!

Parents leave their children to roam the world independently, reassured that they cannot leave Kidzania without their knowledge as all kids are electronically tagged (presumably giving them the experience of prison offenders released into the community). Parents are then free to shop in the mall or they can attend the Kidzania shows their kids are in it seems.

I am not sure if this is a super cool idea or a Truman Showesque nightmare. When I was a kid, I spent many an hour pretending to be a secretary (there was no limit to my ambition back then) so maybe this would have been fun.

Will have to try it on Elphie in 2017 I guess!