THERE’S a world of things you can do in London with a baby – as long as you avoid public transport at rush hour, bring plenty of supplies and are prepared to start getting to know your neighbours.
For childhood friends and first-time ‘Irish Mammies’ Clodagh McGuirk and Nina Cáit Gilbert, starting their families while living and working in the city was not necessarily in their life plan.
But after separately making the move to England from their hometown of Clonakilty in West Cork to find better work opportunities, the pair – a town planner and graphic designer - claim embarking on motherhood in London has been a hugely positive experience.
Both 33, the women have known one another for 22 years and were delighted to have fallen pregnant within months of each other last year.
And since the birth of thier children they have been making the most of every week of their maternity leave together - embarking on weekly adventures in the city, visiting the likes of Hackney City Farm, the Serpentine Gallery, the Tate Modern and the Barbican Arts Centre, with their babies.
"We are lucky to have two very cool babies who don't mind being dragged around museums," they told The Irish Post, "and we've discovered a totally different and totally accesible side to London in the past ten months".
Nina Cáit, who lives in Haringey with her husband David and their seven-month-old son Dáithí, and Clodagh, who lives in Clapton with her husband Peter and their 10-month-old daughter Ella Rose, have also recently founded the Irish Mammies London group.
They are keen bring other Irish mums and their children together in London via the group, to share their new experiencs of the city and offer that all-important support network while away from home.
This week they gave The Irish Post their Top Ten Tips for Irish Mammies tackling London with a baby:
1. Get up, get packed and get out You will be surprised that getting around London with a baby is much easier and more fun than you imagined
2. Give yourself plenty of time
3. Don’t travel at rush hour Between 9.30am-4pm is fine, just don’t get stuck on the tubes before or after those times
4. Always bring a sling [baby carrier] as well as the buggy For when your baby gets annoyed, so you can carry them and push the buggy at the same time
5. Bring loads of supplies Always have food and water – for you and the baby - as its gets really hot on the tube
6. People are very helpful, surprisingly, if you let them be They will often go out of their way to wait for you to get yourself together and then help you up steps with your buggy.
7. Lots of great London venues are free and accessible for parents with children Just do a quick check online before you set out to make sure
8. Get to know your neighbours and link up with as many people as you can in London Your life changes with a baby and your social life becomes all about daytime stuff so you want to know people in the same situation
9. Being a new mum is a bit like dating Just embrace it and make an effort to talk to people. You will meet mums and shyly ask for their number, you don’t always click with everyone, but some you will invite around for coffee - or a playdate!
10. Whatever happens you will get there in the end
Having hosted their first successful Irish Mammies gathering at The Serpentine Gallery on St Patrick’s Day, the Irish Mammies London group is due to hold a second, family-orientated, get-together in the city on July 18.
For full details email [email protected] join the Irish Mammies in London Facebook group or follow @IrishMammiesLDN on Twitter.