I was born and raised in England's beautiful and bustling capital city of London. I love London as if it was a person, and after living across the Atlantic ocean and far from my hometown for the last decade, I've realized absence really does make the heart grow fonder. My appreciation for my favorite urban hub has only increased over the years and since I became a mom, too. In fact, there are so many ways growing up in a big city changed the way I parent for better, for worse, and in ways that are both predictable and unexpected.
I lived in London for the majority of my life and until I got married and relocated to Canada. Although I moved to another capital city that, by all accounts, is large in terms of population, the number of people living in my current home is significantly less than the estimated 8.674 million people who call London home. So, honestly, at first I found my new home to be quiet and boring by comparison. (Although, I must admit that, in time, I really have grown to appreciate a smaller city.) Now that I'm a mom, I hope my son grows up experiencing something of a "middle ground." I think there's something to be said for enjoying all the resources and amenities a city can offer, while still living close enough to a vast wilderness that affords a certain level of freedom.
Still, and regardless of where my family ends up next or where my son grows to love living, I know the lessons I learned from growing up in a big city will never leave me. The ways in which they impact my parenting on a regular basis have truly made me thankful for the childhood I was privileged enough to enjoy.
I See Danger Everywhere
There is no denying the fact that city living comes with some dangers. The crime rate is usually elevated when compared to smaller communities, so you're more likely to see and experience things that could be frightening and/or dangerous.
However, city life also means you're probably more aware of potential threats, your surroundings, and how to navigate specific scenarios, too. When you grow up being vigilant, you're more aware of your personal safety (and the safety of your family).
I Appreciate The Countryside
While I know not everyone who grows up in a city enjoys peace and quiet, I definitely do. Complete silence, when compared to all the noise, traffic, and sirens of a busy metropolis, to me, is just refreshing. Growing up in a city has left me wanting to show my son all the beauty of a quiet countryside.
I love going on road trips to discover new hiking spots, picnic places, and "pick your own" farms. Then again, I'm always happy to return to the big lights of a bustling downtown by the time the trip is over.
I Value Diversity
Living in a city as vast as London meant I was exposed to multiple cultures. I was able to experience global foods and was surrounded by diverse population of vibrant people. As a result, I developed a great deal of empathy and appreciate inclusivity.
I Developed Patience
In my experience, and contrary to popular stereotypes that paint city people as "rude" or "pushy," someone who lives in a city has developed a boatload of patience. I mean, you have to deal with traffic jams, transit delays, large crowds, and lines at seemingly every turn. You best believe that patience comes in handy when I'm dealing with my toddler.
I'm Street Smart
I know the lay of the land when I'm walking around a city. I know which streets are better lit, who is around me, and where I could get help if need be. Knowing that I am attune to hazards around me makes me feel safer and more confident in my parenting.
I Enjoy Staying Busy
One of the best things about living in a big city is that there is always something to do. World class museums, galleries, and exhibitions are all at your fingertips and only a train ride away.
As a result, it's not hard for me to find something to do with my kid. I am used to having history and culture at my fingertips, and I love encouraging that same zest for knowledge in my son, too.
I Can Multitask
When I lived in London I lived a fast-paced lifestyle, usually accomplishing three or four tasks at once. Jumping on and off the subway while I check my email, haul groceries, and pick up my dry cleaning was pretty standard operating procedure.
Learning how to multitask in a busy city gave me a crash course in the sort of multitasking required of me as a mother.
One of the best things about growing up in a big city was the fact that I developed confidence rather quickly. Because I was surrounded by so many people, and had to navigate my way around them and actually communicate with strangers in order to live my life, I'm outgoing and not afraid to assert myself. If you've ever been to a playground in the middle of the afternoon with a bunch of other toddlers and their parents, you know this level of confidence comes in handy.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to grow up in a vibrant, world class city. it gave me an apprenticeship in "adulting" and made me the person, and parent, I am today.