As readers of my blog will know, I recently returned from a very ill-fated family holiday.
Before I went, I had a post in mind about travelling with two small children. It was going to be something wise and profound which would have people nodding sagely and thinking 'I learned something today'. Obviously I got more than I bargained for and so, much like the plane on the return journey, my foray into travel blogging didn't quite take off as intended.
Still, no matter. It may not look as envisaged, but I present to you my guide to flying with a baby and a toddler.
Avoid it. Don't go and save your money. Relocating your family to a new destination which is a) hot, meaning you have to coat them in suncream before breakfast and b) devoid of all creature comforts (drinkable tap water, Peppa Pig on DVD, Pom Bears, Wifi) and where you can't go to the toilet and lock the door for five minutes because the hotel room is not toddler or baby-proof in the slightest is NOT relaxing.
Or, leave them to have a lovely holiday with the grandparents while you jet off somewhere exotic and child unfriendly.
If you are determined, however...
2) Do the packing when the kids are asleep
Packing with children around is the epitome of futile. In my experience, the younger one just unpacks everything as you go, the older one tries to 'help' by packing such much-needed items as a pillow, a Peppa Pig too big to fit in the suitcase, a Snow White costume and a bath mat (actually, the latter may have been useful...).
3) Talking of packing...
Never underestimate quite how many items of clothing a child can soil in a day (theirs and yours). Even discounting the vomit covered items, when dripping in suncream and eating ice cream and suspiciously florescent drinks (thanks to the grandparents, naturally), the outfit changes my toddler got through could rival Beyonce. Pack lots. Don't depress yourself by packing books. You will NEVER get to read them.
4) Tidy the house
Returning at 4am with poorly, ridiculously overtired children, a vomiting husband and a suitcase packed with a week's worth of washing* to a house which looks like it has been hastily abandoned in a drugs bust is the absolute pits. Make time to clean or be prepared to hate yourself.
For the plane...
5) Take snacks
Lots of snacks. If you think you have slightly too many snacks, you probably don't have enough. Say the flight is two hours, and a packet of Pom Bears takes fifteen minutes to get through, that's another hour and three quarters (plus another hour for delays) that you need to account for.
6) Get a tablet
Download CBeebies in its entirety and a bunch of games for the flight to keep the toddler amused. Buy headphones so you don't have to listen to it.
7) Do NOT forget the charger
Only a real idiot would do that.
Make sure that it is out of packaging, constructed and working prior to presenting them with this toy. Best not to get one with bits that drop off and you lose repeatedly like this extremely badly constructed mermaid *swears*. I mean, she loved it, but COME ON.
Although I'm sure valium would have been helpful, a swift glass of wine (for you, not the kids, that's unethical) at the airport before you board the flight will definitely help you not to care so much when they are acting appallingly as small children in confined spaces are wont to do.
Ostensibly for potential hotel noise, also useful if you end up having to share a hotel room with your noisy children. Definitely take them with you on the flight. Your own children aren't the only unhappy ones on there.
And one final tip... Whilst on holiday, don't get food poisoning
It is the least fun thing I've ever done in my life.
*This didn't actually happen. Because my husband was somewhat compromised what with puking every half hour, and we had three large suitcases and two children to transport to the car park, my lovely wonderful parents volunteered to take the largest suitcases home with them and returned it to us several days later with the contents laundered. There are few things in the world that I am as grateful for as this.
If you enjoyed this post, you can find more of Frances over on Whinge Whinge Wine.