In two days, we are taking our four children on a grand adventure (read: horror story). In the early hours of Tuesday morning, we will be boarding a flight that will take us across the country to Perth, where we will be staying for a week.. Four hours on a plane with four children. That’s right, friends: there is just two days until the apocalypse begins.
We are lucky to have kids that are generally good travellers. We have taken them to South Australia, Perth, and – of course – many times to Melbourne. However, we have never taken all four this far; nor have they all been on an aeroplane before. So I’m freaking out a little here. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen, and I’m exhausted from planning our week away. But here we are. It’s happening. I’m kind of organised. And I’m going to share the little things I’ve learnt so far about taking little banshees on holiday.
Preparing for The Apocalypse
(How to Survive a Holiday with Kids)
Book Accommodation that’s a little like Home
For me, this is a must when travelling with the kids. I don’t mean I’m looking for a wonky old cottage to stay in. By home-like, I mean somewhere to use as a base, somewhere you can come back to let the kids rest and be crazy for a while. I look for apartment style hotels that have a small kitchen and a lounge area. While I love taking the kids out for brekkie, we don’t want – nor can afford – to do so every day, so a kitchen comes in handy. The extra space helps when the kids go to bed and Benji and I need a little time together, or just to give the kids a little extra room (means less bed jumping!).
I am usually a big fan of saying no to using technology while travelling. On our trips to Melbourne, the kids aren’t allowed their gadgets until we pass the first servo (we’re from the country, okay, this takes awhile). But a plane is a different story. For one thing, there’s only so many activities you can take on board, and secondly, no one likes to be bored on an aeroplane. Downloading movies or their favourite tv shows onto devices is probably the easiest way to kill a few hours. We’re taking the two Nintendo DS we have, our tablet and of course, our phones. We’ve purchased headphones for each of the children too, for their (and everyone else on board’s) comfort.
Plan Down Time
While I might be okay with a jam-packed schedule, I don’t expect my kids to be. Rest time and play time is key to survival when travelling. Visiting relatives, activities and sight-seeing non stop will get exhausting. Plan stops at parks or simply time back at the accommodation to chill out with a movie. Not every moment of a holiday needs to be special or exciting. You’ll feel much better for it.
Snack it Up
It always comes back to food, right? I mentioned above that I try to find apartments that have kitchens. Mostly for the space my rowdy kids need, but also so we have somewhere to store snacks and basics for the week. One of our first stops when we hit Perth (besides coffee) will be a supermarket, where we will grab nappies and wipes, but also breakfast cereal, fruit, cookies and packets of chips. Kids are always hungry and it’s super nifty to have things on hand to cut the whining. As for the car ride and plane, we’re going against our natural instinct and embracing all things packaged. Chips, juice boxes, Tiny Teddies and fruit bars are ready to go. My solution to all child related problems is “shove food in their mouth!” …. I think we’re set for a couple of hours at least.
The holiday that we’re taking is based around visiting family, so we’ve had to factor in a lot of different people’s needs in the planning of our trip. While it is important to us to spend as much time as possible with our extended family, it is also important to us that our kids get the time they need with us to themselves (as well as the time they need to let loose and go crazy). The kids are also wild with excitement about the things we will see and do, and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to contain the anticipation. So I created a rough timetable of what we will be doing, and when we will be doing it. This means that everyone knows when we will see them, the kids time with us is locked in, and they know what to expect each day. Disappointment, anxiety and excitement can come out in unhelpful ways, I always find it easier to give people a head’s up on what to expect before the event arrives.
Things will not always go to plan. It will rain; the kids will be extra feral; you’ll be exhausted; a flight will be delayed. Be prepared to make changes to your plans, despite all that hard work you put in crafting this holiday. I guess this comes into expectation management too; I always end up exclaiming in frustration “we can never do nice things with these kids!” because something always goes wrong, or the kids don’t appreciate our efforts. I’ve learnt over time to read the room and make changes when required. A holiday doing less-than-amazing things is better than a holiday spent forcing merriment.
Happy mama, happy kids.
You know… most of the time.
Got any tips for me? Join the conversation on my Facebook Page!