In fact, we more than survived. We had a fantastic holiday but it definitely took a bit of perseverance to get there.
Over the last decade or so, I have been fortunate to do lots of travel so know that things don’t always go to plan. This pales into nothing compared to travel with babies. There is a lot of planning and organising required. So here are my learnings from the trip:
Packing – best not to over pack!
- We’ve all been there. You always think that summer dress circa 2004 is going to have to come with you – even though its practically a rag and you never wear it other than on the beach and really should you be wearing something you wore clubbing in Ibiza ten years ago?! Not just that, if your Irish, you feel the need to pack for all weather (just in case) and pack coats, jumpers, scarfs for your two weeks in the sun. So if like me you already over pack for one – just imagine the over packing for 5!
- You can buy everything there. Unless you are jungle bound, there is everything and more in the supermarkets abroad. Pack enough wipes, nappies, formula and breakfast cereal/food pouches (they can eat this for every meal if needed – wont harm them) to get through the first day or so.
- They only need a few outfits or vests. Most of the time, if going to the sun, it will be too hot for clothes and trust me they won’t want to wear much. My little boy became a nudist for the two weeks.
- Bring colouring pencils, paper, play dough, story books. There are times when you want to stay in doors and they will need entertainment.
Flight – break it down to 15 – 30 minute sections
- So this might sound a bit over kill but it helps to keep everyone occupied.
- For example – my flight was 3 hours long and heres how it broke down.
- 30 minutes – take off and taxi – have a look around get used this exciting new place. Feed a bottle (helps their little ears)
- 30 minutes – sleep. Hopefully at this point they will sleep. Long journey to airport and through the check in etc.
- 30 minutes of story books, play dough, cars etc etc and oh here comes the coffee cart!
- So now we are one and a half hours into the flight and thats when it all starts to unravel unfortunately. Boredom hits, food has gone everywhere, snot and tears are now all over my once immaculate top. The lovely sun hat I purchased is now a squashed mess and the once organised bag is all over the floor in a not so easy to reach order. But deep breaths and a reminder that this is only temporary.
- 30 minutes later and we are already well through the worst of it. Everyone has calmed down a bit and back out with the toys, play dough, ‘lets draw an airplane’.
- So now for the final decent. Have a second bottle ready for this – there ears can get very sore on the way down. (I learnt this the hard way – on the way out i forgot to pack a second bottle. Thankfully the air hostess gave me some milk.)
Routine, Routine, Routine and one more time Routine!!!!!!
- So here is the tough one. I found it hard to adjust to the difference between holidays gone by and holidays of the present and future. Children don’t unwind like us grown ups. They have absolutely no interest in lounging by the pool and snoozing on the beach. My four all need a lot of attention and need your help in ensuring there is lots of fun and activity. You also want to do lots of things to ensure they tire and sleep. The girls found the adjustment especially hard. My son thought the holiday was incredible and had a ball.
- For the first week us girls were a bit miserable. Trying to look after three babies without all your paraphernalia is tough. They need those toys and bouncers! I have grown a new appreciation for the plastic that has taken over my house. It serves a wonderful purpose!
- I also must have been insane when i thought going away without help would be fine. NO!!! Even though I had a lovely local girl helping, it was a disaster. All I did for the first week is run to the pharmacy every five minutes (streaming noses, food poisoning, mosquito bites, teeth!), stress about sunscreen, clean up continuously and do laundry. I can do that at home! So by the end of the week my minder from home flew over and thats when it clicked. Simple is best – routine, routine, routine.
- Heres what our day looked like (i did not deviate)
- Up at 6am and a bottle for all
- Breakfast at 8am
- Down to the beach. Sand castles, run around, girls played on the towels, dip their toes into the water.
- Home by 11.30 and lunch
- 12.30 Nap time for everyone
- Two hours of bliss
- 2.30 Up and play. Swims for everyone
- 5pm Dinner
- 6pm – 7pm Bath and Stories
- 7.30pm Glass of wine and peace
So thats it – keep a routine, don’t stress over the small stuff, no they won’t sleep properly and whatever you do – don’t wear white jeans traveling (a mistake i will never repeat!)