Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Topic: Public transport

This is a spin off from last week's question. We recently moved from a small town, where we only had to use buses to go to other cities, to a much larger city, where almost everything involves public transport. I'm finding that it's a bit different now with four children, than it was the last time I lived in a big city. So, I'm curious: Do you use public transportation? Do you have any tips for navigating buses (and more) with children?

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  1. Whenever we go to London, we use the public transportation. We haven't done it since our son started walking, but we put him in a hiking backpack carrier. It was so much easier to navigate the crowded Tube stations (during the Olympics so you can imagine how busy it was)!

    On the bus in our own town, I'll just put him in the stroller and wheel him on and off the bus... I'm sure it will be more challenging once more children come along!

  2. We own a car, but it is frequently in the shop for long periods of time, so we have used buses and taxis pretty frequently. Public transportation is quite the adventure with our two kids, so I can only imagine with your four! It was really easy when we just had one baby and I could wear him in a sling, then the toddler years have been crazy, and now that our youngest is almost 3, it is getting a bit easier again.

    My main tip is just to try to be very minimal in what you carry. I need to have both hands free to grab kids when I'm on the bus, so that means I need to limit myself to one bag that I can carry on my back or over my shoulder... and no stroller. Our buses are most usually old school buses from the States so there is no easy way to wheel a stroller on and off the bus. We are blessed to be in a culture that loves kids so people show a mama with little kids a lot of grace!

  3. We've always used public transport and/or walking/biking (Phnom Penh, Manila, Bangkok, Penang.) What has worked for us is continuing to use a stroller past the time my toddlers could walk - we had two, so I needed one in the stroller so I could keep track of them both! - increasing responsibility faster than most would approve so that our 6 and 7 year olds are confident enough to flag the correct bus down, pay the fare,find their seats, and know when to get off. This has left me able to focus on the awkwardness of getting a stroller and shopping and toddler on and off the bus without having to manage the older ones as well. Of course,it is still rather stressful at times!

  4. we used public transport when in quebec for our language study (with 4, 5 and under) and then when we've traveled in larger cities. for the most part, however, our family has been too large most of the time to use the 5 person taxis that are "public" transport in niamey. in the early years, i did take the kids out that way - but always flagged down a taxi and did a private hire since we filled the taxi - so it was a bit like a chauffeur who could say yay or nay.

    making sure the kids understood exactly what would happen and what they were expected to do ahead of time helped. of course, sometimes traveling internationally, mom and dad weren't exactly sure how the public transport would work... so... minimal stuff in hands helped. buddy systems as we got bigger kids who could legitimately help with littler ones... planning extra time into our trips so that if we weren't ready to catch a particular bus/train/etc..., it was too crowded, etc., waiting for the next was always a viable option and our whole plan for the day wasn't ruined.