A wet and drab Monday in November, I braved the cold and took my 2yr old son to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. It was a day of firsts but not because it was our first visit. It was the first time I had gone up to London just with my 2 year old, his sisters (aged 5 and 8) were at school so I thought it was about time we had some adventures on our own. Normally the whole family is in tow but there is something special about treating the youngest of three like they are the first child where you have all the time in the world to let them enjoy the wonders around them.
My previous visit to the Transport Museum had been in the Easter holidays, six of us had gone, there were queues to get in, it was all very busy we couldn’t drive every bus and we couldn’t quite see every exhibit, the lunch time crush at the cafe was a bit fraught but all in all it was a good day. This time it couldn’t have been more different; to begin with another first, I actually re-used an entry ticket. The times we have visited museums and adventure parks with free return in a week or a year and never ever gone back, in the back of your head you think “Well it is a bit expensive but if we come back we will really get value out of our ticket”. It costs £13.50 for an adult to get into the London Transport Museum and with travel costs up there and lunch it can soon get quite pricey particularly as many museums in London are free. But the Kids in Museums manifesto could not be more right when they talk about flexible pricing, being able to re-use the ticket for a whole year gives an enormous amount of freedom and saved me money, what more could I ask for?
When we got to the Museum we walked straight in, no fuss, no payment, a great start to the day. So on to another first, I actually took all our ‘stuff’ – coats, bags and pushchair to the free cloakroom. Silly really but I am always carrying around so much even when there is a cloak room, but with no queue and no fuss with in 5 mins we were ready to explore not encumbered by our traveller’s garb. My little guy with his stamper ticket in hand couldn’t wait to get started.
The first thing that he loved wasn’t buses or horses or tubes or trains, it was the metal ramp up to the first exhibit. I watched him running up and down stamping his feet enjoying the sound his shoes made watching the lights and colours around him. If you want to see what impact a Museum has on children on a really immediate sensory way take a 2 year old with you, it is a real eye opener. As we went round of course he loved driving the buses and playing with the train set but he got as much enjoyment from watching the see through lift come up to the first floor and touching the cab headlights. The Kids in Museums manifesto gets it right again when they say look at the space around you, use every part, not necessarily filling it with an exhibit, but think about the light and space, the sounds and textures, it all comes together for a child as part of the magic of the visit.
Another first that goes against my organised librarian nature was letting No 1. son lead the visit. I didn’t tell him where we should go or pull him one way or the other. What does a 2 year old care about chronology, I just let him have free rein to go where he wanted, touch what enticed him and climb on anything that was climbable!
It was a great day, a day of firsts, one I hope we can repeat.