Visiting Santa’s Grotto

Posted 3 December 2018

As Christmas approaches, single parent Katie shares a past experience of taking her son to meet Father Christmas.

My son is train-obsessed, so when he was two, I booked a special Santa event on a local steam railway. The event was really well organised and most people had a lovely day out – but as a single parent, I didn’t enjoy it quite so much!

When the steam train pulled into the station, they split you into three groups: one to go to the cafe, one to look at the model railway, and one to visit Father Christmas. You were given about thirty minutes doing each thing in rotation, then back on the steam train, so the clock was ticking!

We were put in the group which started in the cafe, but my son had other ideas – he would not come inside, he just wanted to stand outside and look at the train. This was fine, but it was freezing and I was desperate for a cup of tea! I had three attempts at joining the queue inside and every time, he just ran back outside to look at the train. Eventually, as the thirty minutes was nearly up and everyone else had been served, I carried him kicking and screaming inside.

Herein lies my problem. I was the only person there on my own with my child. Everyone else was with a family. Many grandparents were there as well, and it was quite obvious I was struggling. (It was hard not to notice the lady with a screaming child in her arms!)

I assumed you had to pay for refreshments so thought I needed to queue myself but they were free, so all you did when you got to the front of the queue was pick a pre-prepared tray up. I ended up not being able to carry the tray because I couldn’t carry my son (who kept running off) and a tray with a hot drink on it. I would like to think that in a similar situation, I would have told the person to stay outside by the train and I would have offered to pick up a tray for them and take it out. (For anyone who read my last blog about travelling on your own with a child you’ll pick up a theme here).

Next we moved on to the model railway (no issues there) and then to meet Father Christmas where we were the very last people in the queue – literally the very last people on the whole train, and everyone else was already on the train waiting to go. I think we saw Father Christmas for ten seconds!

I cannot fault the railway itself or the event, it was lovely – but that’s the first time I have ever felt sorry for myself as a single parent.

My tip? Take granny or grandad and a flask of tea with you!

If you’re looking for festive inspiration, check out our Christmas pages for top tips on how to make the most of the holiday season.

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