Restlessly waiting to be taken to a friend’s house, my 12-year-old is badgering me alta voce to hurry up. I shout at him to leave me alone and let me finish what I am doing. He makes for the door, upset, bumps into a file of papers and scatters them everywhere. I screech at him. He leaves, slamming the door and protesting in a tearful voice that I never have time for him. A couple of hours earlier I’d told my elder son, on holiday from boarding school, that I was too busy to go to a show with him. Like flies, I swatted them away and was left with that familiar guilty feeling that I’d short-changed them. I’d failed to create an idyllic, Laurie Lee-style childhood for them.

Wanting to give children a happy childhood is the most universal parental ambition, but what do we mean by the term? How do we achieve it? How many minor failings does it take to make a major trauma? Does refusing to buy the latest Nintendo game cancel out the memories of a seaside holiday with limitless ice-creams and both parents building sand- castles?

Will the days when you drop everything to go biking or swimming, or to play football, be the things they recall – or will children simply remember the days when there was no time for them? Such questions are important. As a century of psycho-analysis and developmental psychology has told us, childhood experiences shape the kind of adults we become; they are also what we give our children. In the words of one mother: ‘I had a lovely childhood with a great sense that my Mum and Dad enjoyed my being a child, whereas I hear a lot of parents urging their children to be grown-up, to stop being so childish – as though their childhood is nothing but a nuisance. When my first child was born,

Our bikes are available to rent 24/7 from any Rentbike station. Renting a bike is easy using our free app, the on-bike computer, or by phoning the nextbike hotline. We have bikes in a growing number of cities and in 14 countries around the world. Our members can rent any of our bikes.. all 200 of them – and counting. Become a member today to start riding.

To get started, Juan buys £2 bike access for 24 hours, rides for 15 minutes to Square and docks his bike nearby. Later that day, he picks up another bike and rides for 22 minutes to the theatre and returns the bike there. The first 30 minutes of each journey is free, so Juan only pays £2 in total.

Visit TfL’s Cycle Hire docking station page to keep up to date with bike availability at your nearest docking station for hiring and returning the bikes.

If you are looking for inspiration, Transport for London has created some bike rides around London. The easy to follow, self-guided routes will help you discover London’s hidden gems by bike. There are also cycle paths in many of London’s parks including Regents Park.

When you’ve finished your journey, just drop the bike back to one of the many docking stations across London. Cycle Hire docking stations are located across nine London boroughs and in several Royal Parks in Central London.

If you want to hire a bike for a full day or longer, it may be cheaper to rent it from one of London’s many bicycle hire companies.

Last modified: November 3, 2023