Travelling with a toddler?
I’m living the dream….or at least that’s what my UK family and friends think. To be fair, I have spent the last eight months enthusing about my impending life as a beach hipster-mum, green smoothie diet and morning sun salutations, while our almost-three- year-old catches waves with his daddy. Believe me, I’ve sold it well.
We’ve now been in Sydney for two weeks, my yoga pants haven’t yet seen the light of day and my diet has mainly consisted of train station sushi and Cheezels (like Wotsits, but cheesier…& apparently, highly addictive). Because in the midst of my down-under dreaming, I’d somehow managed to forget, that in the process of moving country, we would also end up homeless, car-less and routine-less.
All quite exciting when you’re a twenty-something backpacker. Less so, when you have 90 kilos of luggage and a jetlagged toddler who, despite fully functioning limbs, insists on always being carried.
Until now, I’d always seen myself as a bit of an adventurer-type; trekking solo around India, climbing mountains, deliberately going third class to experience ‘real’ travel and lose my attachment to creature comforts. That kind of person.
What an idiot. What I should have done, was enjoy 5* luxury, while I still had some cash, as there is no way in hell I‘ll ever be allowed near Business Class now. Because what I failed to realise then, was that the real adventure starts when you attempt to travel with a child. That is when your attachment to everything you once took for granted is abruptly ripped from you.
Take for example, the flight – a time when you might previously have enjoyed a glass of pinot while you peruse the duty free. You will now find yourself repeatedly fast forwarding an iPad to ‘the bit where the T-Rex eats the man on the toilet’. And that cute Kate Spade cabin bag? It will now become home to a troop of construction vehicles and a bear named Barry, displacing your cosmetics and beloved neck pillow forevermore.
But it’s all good, because when you’re travelling with kids, you’re going to need more than mascara to make you feel like ‘You’re worth it’.
Having finally conquered the flight, we landed in the midst of a raging biblical-style storm. ‘You said it’s always sunny in Australia, mummy. When can we go the beach?’
It’s not Sydney’s fault. In the rare tranquil moment when I stop and look at this city, I can see it is truly beautiful and an incredible place to raise a family. It’s just that emigrating with a child is a bit like signing up to an SAS training course. Forget gazing romantically into your hubby’s eyes and rejoicing your idyllic life decision. This trip is about survival.
But actually, I’m OK with that. Despite feeling more like Kath Day-Night than Miranda Kerr right now, I still get a buzz from knowing that we’re building a life worth living and one that will ultimately provide the best possible future for my little boy. That’s what makes it all truly worth it. ‘
I just need to keep the dream alive.
Stacey’s top 5 Tips for Toddler-Travel Survival
1. Pre-book your accommodation. While ‘winging it' might once have been fun, the last thing you want to be hearing after a mammoth road-trip is ‘fully booked’. And check out the reviews; unless you want to end up in bedbug motel (I’m still itching from our last impulsive minibreak).
2. Bring a tablet and load it with the entire Peppa Pig boxset. Yes, it’s controversial (I’ve seen the glares) and yes, I’m aware that Steve Jobs never allowed his children near the iPad. However, I’m also guessing that Steve Jobs never had to endure 15 hours in economy class with two fighting toddlers jumping on his head. Save the meaningful connection for another time.
3. Take Earplugs. These aren’t actually for the kids, but a peace-offering to your fellow passengers.
4. Invest in (or borrow) a Trunki. This was a game-changer for us. No more staggering through the terminal with children dangling from every limb and your handbag round your neck. Toys, luggage, offspring - all bundled together in one easy-pull, dinosaur-shaped package.
5. Remember the Parenting Mantra (I am a yoga teacher after all!). ‘This too shall pass’. These three words have got me through some of the most grueling of parenting encounters. A poignant reminder that the journey won’t last forever, that our children won’t scream forever and this whole beautiful madness will be over in the blink of an eye. Cherish every crazy moment.
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