For some super mums’, flying solo with two sprogs is a breeze. For others it’s a necessity. For me, the mere thought of taking flight with a mardy three year old and a 22 month old with a deafening “roaring” addiction was enough to break me out in a cold sweat.
If you too are contemplating travelling abroad with your young children and you want to get a rough idea of how they (and you) will cope, try taking them to the cinema (this is particularly handy if you’re travelling on a night flight). Our film of choice was Finding Dory and let’s just say if it was a sink or swim situation, we would have definitely been splashing around in the deep end. What saved us? My clever friend and her never-ending supply of snacks. Tip 1, fill your hand luggage with enough biscuits to pick on back-to-back for the entirety of your flight, and more besides.
Second to biscuit scoffing, the biggest help in trying to convince my son he isn’t a dinosaur is the trusty old iPad. My youngest is quite handy with an app (I appreciate this doesn’t shine the best light on my parenting skills) and some of the simplest and most enjoyed by my two have to be the LEGO Duplo games including animals, circus and ice cream (obvs). However the handiest piece of advice I received pre-flight was to download CBeebies episodes via the dedicated iPlayer Kids app at home, which will then be saved on your device and ready to watch on your flight even when there is no wifi – genius! Have a rummage and make sure you save the longest episodes, such as Kerwhizz at 25 minutes long. Otherwise you’ll find yourself longing for lengthier episodes of Topsy & Tim – a very dark place to be indeed.
Ironically, I actually spent so much time concentrating on the horrors of being stuck mid flight with the gruesome twosome that I actually forgot the hell that is the AIRPORT! For some insane reason, I envisaged myself checking in calmly, dropping the bags off in a timely fashion and then watching the planes take off in a serene and cheerful manner before boarding the aircraft. The reality? Summer holiday madness, even though I’d saved all my pennies to add on every priority / fast pass service to man. Of course, starting the journey in a massive queue only to face “the computer says no” from the charming Ryanair staff at the front was not on the agenda. Nor was fellow (very kind) passengers riffling through my knickers and tampax, stuffing heavy objects under the buggy (the backpack was stuffed with sticker books and sodding biscuits), all thanks to my luggage being 1KG (!!) overweight. Double thumbs up Ryanair! The fact the kind barista in Starbucks had to point out my tits were hanging out my top as I was desperately ordering coffee post event – and I didn’t care – gives you an idea of my general mood by the time we made our way up those tiny steps to the plane, with two children, a heavy backpack and a multi pack of Huggies wipes in tow. The life lesson for all fellow dummies – check the maximum weight on your case. Don’t assume because you’ve spent your monthly wages on extra bags that it covers you – there is a maximum weight (doh!) – and you really don’t need those extra big bottles of shampoo (shock, horror – they sell Pantene in Italy).
But despite the initial nightmare, which will no doubt haunt me for the rest of my days, it was totally worth it. Admittedly I was as happy to see my sister-in-law as I would have been to see Matt Damon in the buff after our debacle, but spending quality time in the sunshine with my sprogs was as dreamy as I’d hoped it would be and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Just, next time, with less wipes and smaller bottles of shampoo…