Travelling with kids, while the UK warns “attack may be imminent” , isn’t ideal. But we cannot let fear rule our lives, so taking extra security measures, a safety conversation between my husband and I, and so much extra awareness of our surroundings, we decided to go about our trip to London.
Having been through a school shooting, the sounds of terrified screams and confused panic are all too familiar to me. Popping balloons in Hyde Park followed by children screaming was enough to make me jump. The impact of witnessing a hate crime or terrorism stays with you and subconsciously changes you. I am aware of escape routes when I enter a building. When standing in a crowd, I look for a shielded area in case of an attack. I have thought out how my husband and I can each quickly grab a child in the case of a crazed person driving into a crowd. I avoid being the closest to the curb while waiting for the light, and if I am, I am always on the lookout for strange driving behaviour. I don’t let my children run too far ahead of me and I constantly remind my husband to be aware.
Is this being safe or is it paranoia? Should we have cancelled our trip all together, giving into fear and allowing these terrorists to take the slightest control of our lives?
“I don’t think about these things,” a friend told me, ” I believe if it’s your time, then it’s your time.”
How I envy that pre-motherhood mentality. I was once like that, when I travelled by myself across Europe, walked alone at nights through unknown neighbourhoods and rode motorcycles with strangers. It is the thrill of living, and living only for yourself. I knew I lost that the moment James was born, and was reminded of it with Victoria. My “paranoia” isn’t for me, it’s for them. The thought of harm coming their way is overwhelming on a regular day, and now that these terrible occurrences of terror attacks on civilians has become seamingly inevitable, it is easy to retreat into our shells. Suddenly, agoraphobia seems less crazy and more relatable. Some days, I wish I can find a safe place and hide out there with my babies forever.
Yet of course, life must go on. We had been looking forward to our trip to London for so long, I was not about to let fear ruin it. We went on our trip just as we should have.
Sadly, but as expected, there was an attack in London. Three men drove into people on London bridge before getting out and stabbing others in Borough Market. Thankfully, we were far from the events but my phone began to blow up with text messages asking if we were safe. We were, but for how long?
Every time we took the tube, taking escalators deeper and deeper underground, I’d feel myself reaching further and further from my comfort zone. The exits become further away, and space becomes limited amongst crowds of people. I can no longer make out a safety plan. I did not want to project my anxieties onto my husband, so I kept quiet. Yet, for every trip we took I could not get out of the “underground” fast enough.
We were staying at an AirBnB in Chelsea, and I was relieved to be out of the city centre. We often walked back streets, and side streets avoiding main areas where large crowds gather. We spent a lot of time walking through the numerous large parks, not only to put the children to sleep in the stroller but because there is comfort in open, uncrowded spaces.
This was my second time in London and I absolutely love this city. I have travelled through Europe by myself, with friends, and with my family and I have never had to worry about being run over or blown up on the tube. I’ve always taken my freedom and safety for granted, yet on our last trip to London I felt robbed of this privilege.
Regardless, London has so much to offer, we could not help but fall in love with the city. With so much history, architecture and nature to explore, two weeks is not nearly enough time to experience it all. With the amazing weather we had, we spent a lot of time in nature and walking down hidden alleyways. Despite terror threats, I experienced, and learned so much while travelling with the kids and I hope to one day return to this city with a clearer mindset. At the end of the day, I’m glad we didn’t give in to fear, we didn’t let them win, and we experienced such a wonderful time exploring with our kids.
For tips and things-to-do in london with kids, visit my last post–> “London with Kids”.