Flying with young children is the least possible relaxing start to a holiday one can possibly imagine. I would liken it to trying to squash five baby monkeys into a shoe box. The lid of which is a fraction too small. Whilst someone batters you round the head with a book every 30 seconds. But it doesn’t have to be so stressful. If everyone would just chill the f**k out then we could all have a lovely time…
I have been a little quiet recently. Between my two darling girlies, a (very) boozy summer and trying to get my new business off the ground, life has been a little hectic. Off the back of one of these boozy summer evenings, we…acquired (?) a week in a villa in Tuscany. I question the word acquired because it was won (?) via a silent auction at a charity ball we attended. Is won even the right word? That is like saying “I won” on eBay. The truth is that it was bid on by my heavily inebriated Husband.
Despite the fact that all we had to go on was a grainy 3cm x 3cm picture and a description that read “Enchanted extravaganza in a 5-bedroom villa in Tuscany complete with private pool”, he bid rather more money than I would have for a complete unknown entity. The auction host chat had gone on a bit and we, having lingered by the cocktail bar for too long, returned to our table to see what the slightly muffled monologue was about. Drunk Husband nabbed the table iPad and sneakily bid on some random artwork and signed boxing gloves.
I realised what he was doing and squawked at him to stop. He promised he would whilst continuing to sneakily push buttons looking at me like Gollum every time he ignored our pre-agreed financial limit. He insisted he was bidding on a holiday for us and it would be amazing. I had given up asking “how much?” and resigned myself to the fact we were going to end up with an unnaturally large frame in our siting room with giant boxing gloves sticking out and looking ridiculous. I imagined paying the cleaners extra to “accidentally” break the frame and turned away, shaking my head. At which point I saw my friend, also the evening’s compère, stalking towards me to publicly, and loudly, thank us for our overwhelming generosity. Over the microphone to a room full of about 800 people, my eyes widened as our name appeared on the screen. Second highest bidder of the evening behind the Chairman of some Bank. Shit. What had he done?!
Villa acquired/won/bought/embarrassingly-publicly-bid-on, we text our most seasoned traveller family friends and asked if they fancied joining us for a week in Italy. They immediately answered yes, without asking any of the questions that were going through my head – pool fencing, stair gates, number of breakable antiques…you know, the boring stuff. I told myself I was worrying over nothing and I silently thanked them for paying half of what we would have had to pay on our own. All in the name of charity right?! We booked our flights a few weeks later, and as I write we have just returned from a week in beautiful Tuscany.
On the whole, it was a lovely week. It didn’t get off to the greatest start but it definitely improved after we arrived.
We like an early flight and so booked the 6am out of Gatwick to Pisa. Staying at the Premier Inn the night before, we had a nice leisurely drive to the airport, stopped for dinner, dropped the car off and then were all in bed nice and early ready to wake up at 3.30am. For Girly no1, who is almost 4, this first night was the highlight of her holiday. All of us in one tiny hotel room, beds jammed together in a row, she loved it. She actually spent the rest of the holiday asking when we were going back to the first hotel.
Girly no2, nearly 2, also appeared to love it. I say appeared, her fondness was expressed by crapping all over the bed sheets of all four of the beds. “How?” you might reasonably ask. In putting her PJ’s on, I whipped off her nappy and she pulled one of her roll-and-run manoeuvres, scurrying after her sister, who was launching herself from one side of Bed Row to the other. Amidst all the squealing and giggling, it just became too much. Poo everywhere. All over the starched white sheets. Eventually we cleaned up and everyone settled in to a short night’s sleep.
I Get It
The next morning we boarded our flight with three slightly hysterical little girls. Flying SleazyJet, we were all in a row, Husband, Girly no1 and I. Girly no2 does not yet have her own seat so was excitedly flinging herself from one lap to the other, while everyone else boarded the plane. I noticed the couple that sat in front of us. They didn’t really look like “kid people” but hey, it’s an hour and 45 minutes to Pisa, how bad could it be?!
Before I go off on my diatribe, I want to tell you that I get it. I get that toddlers, babies and children can be a pain in the arse on an aeroplane. Husband and I spent many pre-children years travelling all over the world. We have been sat near the screaming child. We have had our seats kicked for an entire flight that, just when you give into the dream of being in your bed soon, you’re held in the air circling London for an extra hour. I have had my hair pulled and been woken up repeatedly from a hungover doze by a little hand tapping me on the back of my head. And sure, it’s a bit annoying. But! But, dear readers! I just dealt with it. I whacked on an eye mask, had a few drinks, snuggled up to Husband’s shoulder and did my best to ignore it. And when the parent of said child walked up and down frantically apologising I smiled warmly and said “don’t worry, it’s fine.” You know why? Because I’m not an arsehole. And I know that adding stress to an already stressful situation is the worst possible thing to do.
What I did not do was tut, complain, moan, glare, mutter angrily or stare. Which is exactly what Toad Face and Coconut Head (terms of endearment for the couple sat in front of us) did the whole way to Pisa.
In fairness to the Girlies, they were really well behaved. They weren’t crying or screaming, there were no tears or fighting, there was just a bit of movement and the odd over-excited outburst.
Girly no2 couldn’t remember any of her previous flights and was both excited and terrified to be on an aeroplane. She swapped laps a few times, she stretched out her short fat legs and she played with the tray on the seat in front a bit. Because she’s 1 and a new place is interesting to her.
Girly no1 sat quietly most of the time on the iPad with her new headphones on, occasionally shouting “GORLY!” in a too-loud voice to her best friend across the aisle because she doesn’t understand that her voice increases by 50 decibels when her ears are covered. I found it hilarious. The first few times anyway! She also nudged the seat in front a few times because her legs are the perfect length to stretch from one seat to the other and at 3, she has no concept of distance, pressure etc. Why would she? She’s 3.
The man and woman in front of us were the worst possible people to be sat in front of me and my lovely-though-not-very-still family. They were tutters. And moaners. And grunters. And starers. With evil eyes. And big pig noses. And slobber hanging from their jaws. Ok I may have made that last bit up but they definitely weren’t kind. They turned round every minute or so to glare at us. It made me paranoid, edgy and fraught. And it made what should have been quite a sweet fuss-free experience a really fractious one that had me holding my one year old’s feet together in a bid to stop her moving. We had to try and pin her to one of our laps instead of letting her gaze out at the clouds or peek her head into the aisle to make new friends.
Their behaviour had me snapping at Girly no1 to stop wriggling. It made us hissy and snippy when really, there was no need. I know there was no need, not because I can see no wrong in our children (for evidence read any of my previous posts), but because they were by general standards, pretty well behaved. And I’m very clear on whether my children are doing horrible things to upset other people. This was confirmed by a member of cabin crew and at least two other travellers who told us so, unprompted after we landed. We were the last to get off the plane. We picked up all of our toys from the fun bag I had packed (previous post on Flying With Babies here) and disembarked the aircraft.
This anxious start to everyone’s holiday was just unnecessary. It didn’t do any of us any good. Toad Face and Coconut Head were grumpy and we were stressed out. The girlies obviously didn’t give a shit – why would they? That said, they don’t respond well to a snappy parent, because small people are mood sponges and the more agitated their parent becomes, the more annoying the child becomes. It’s science (I know, I should be a teacher).
I wanted to stop to Toad Face and Coconut Head and discuss the impact of their behaviour with them. But what would be the point? I doubt they will be any less grumpy until they have children of their own. If they ever do. We will always be annoying to some people. I accept that. But it’s for such a short period of time. And we do our best to contain our annoyingness. We take our own entertainment and food and whatever else we need to do to try and be inconspicuous. We’re definitely not going to travel any less.
They had somehow ended up near us at baggage reclaim. I sat on some seats, glowering at them and ranting in my head. “Just you wait til you never read my blog!” I thought! The three girls ran around burning off some pent up energy. I secretly hoped one of them might trip them up, then I thought, let it go. You’re on holiday. And, in the spirit of Elsa, I did.
Bonus: Free Advice on Flying With Young Children
Just quickly, I want to point out here to any new parents thinking of flying: I have heard some of you talk of not flying until your child has reached their first birthday. NO! THIS IS WRONG! Flying with a tiny little little person is easy because they are still and they are used to being in one place. The bad time is between starting to crawl and walk and pre-being-able-to-be-engaged-in-an-activity. That’s the nightmare phase. This is the one we are in the thick of now! Just some free advice for you.
Thanks for stopping by! If you have enjoyed, please feel free to share with your friends. Apologies for the long gap between posts. You will maybe be pleased to know that I have already started on the next post so hopefully it will appear on here sometime soon. Maybe. Love you! Bye!
Husband freaked us both out this week. One of the nursery girls asked him where Girly no1 would be starting school and if he had added it to the list so he could organise some play dates (she obviously doesn’t know him very well). He ran home in a panic-stricken flurry. “Where’s she starting school? When? Have we applied? Why didn’t you talk to me about it? The list! We need to add her to the list!”…
I laughed affectionately as he counted the months on his fingers. He confirmed with me that she started when she was 4 and that the school term starts in September. His face was flooded with relief as he realised we hadn’t missed anything. Being a September baby, she doesn’t start school til next year, a full 18 months away. I briefly asked myself whether he thought I was that bad I would miss something so monstrous. Does he not know how anxious I am about her starting school?! Starting school sucks! It’s the worst! We still have a year a half, but already it makes me feel a bit nauseous.
Parents of older children will laugh at me for this. Parents of younger children will (mostly) nod in sympathy. My mum will cover her face and laugh. She will laugh because I hated starting school. Hated it with a passion. And I hated every September starting a new class.
I especially hated having a new teacher in a new room and new people. In fact, the only thing I liked was the new books, especially in senior school when we got to cover them in sticky back plastic. That played perfectly to my slightly autistic need for perfection. I go into a trance-like state of admiration in the library if I come a across a neatly covered book with no bubbles, a smooth plane and perfectly folded corners. (I’m such a weirdo, I probably shouldn’t share this stuff).
The night before going back to school after a long hot summer I would cry all night. In my teenage years, the tears were replaced with a face of thunder, grunts and lots of stomping (more than usual). I struggled to shake it off as an adult. I would get that same ‘back to school’ feeling most Sunday evenings and every time I returned from holiday. If I happened to have PMT on my first day back I would definitely cry as I left the house. Yes! I am the personification of what you would call “a big baby”. It’s probably why I’m so happy now I don’t have to go to work on a Monday morning. Just to my sofa! No more back to school feeling (virtual high fives with myself).
My first few years of school were nothing less than traumatic for my poor Mum. After prising me away from her leg and ‘jollying me along’ into class she would go back to the car to cry into the steering wheel because I had sobbed since waking up. Clock watching until an acceptable amount of time had passed, she would call and check how I was. Inevitably I was fine. Well, almost fine. One time I was still in tears because I had missed my snack at break time as I couldn’t open my new lunchbox. Cue many future years of making me practice opening my lunchbox every day for two weeks before going back to school. This story story can still make my Mum cry if you catch her on a bad day now.
My own memories must not rub off on Girly no1. I’ll do everything I can to not let this happen. But I also know that she is a carbon copy of me. She is very sensitive and any ruffling of her feathers results in tears first, other feelings afterwards. Yesterday she cried for 25 minutes because her hair band broke (it was from Poundland, I don’t know what she expected). The week before she moaned for a whole day about why her best friend didn’t want to kiss her goodbye (she wants to marry this friend but I’m not sure her family are as open to lesbianism as we are). It took her 6 months to settle into nursery, then it has taken a good couple of months to settle each time she has changed groups (you know, moving from one side of the room to the other…having to climb an extra set of stairs…big changes). She’s not great with change.
Ow, My Heart
I didn’t used to like change either, though strangely now I fall into the early adopter category. I quite like change and am willing to give most things a go. This may be all my years of project management. That doesn’t help me with Girly no1 though, whose worries, reactions and concerns feel like physical pain in my heart.
It’s my job to help her through this though. There have been times in my life when I have questioned Mum’s ‘meanness’ to me when I was little – her constant reiteration of “you need to toughen up” and “just stop crying and get on with it” – but now I’m in the thick of things with my own offspring, this is what I need to do more of. Tough love. It’s probably what has led me to being a fairly robust adult. Without it, I wonder whether I would I have competed in tennis tournaments to jeers from mean girls from school. Would I have been able to hold my own in a boardroom of much older men? Would I ever have started Making Little People or That Works For Me? I doubt it.
Starting School….next year
This doesn’t help me with Girly no1 starting school though. I’m already planning – manically planning. How I can make this transition easier? We will talk about it lots. Buy an easy to open lunchbox. Meet lots of people in her class. Go there lots so she starts to feel comfortable. I wonder if we could invite her teacher to tea…..(jokes). (Kind of). I know that everyone goes through it and I won’t be the only stressing about it, I may be the only one stressing about it 18 months ahead of time though! Whichever way it goes I’m sure I will be that Mum weeping first in her car and then again at home on the sofa. Someone in this house needs to keep the back-to-school mantle burning!
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! And thank you so much to everyone for your kind words on my last post, The Miscarriage Rollercoaster. We are much, much better and as you see I have found a new thing to cry over! Believe it or not I’m actually quite a happy and chilled person, hard to get that from this blog isn’t it?! I always love your likes and shares so please do the honours if you have enjoyed. Until next time amigos!
This list is Things You Might Feel in the First Year. You might not feel them but I sure did.
5 mins post delivery: Elation, disbelief and tears. Shit. A human just came out of me. Did anyone else see that?! Other than the 45 people that were in here at the time?
30 mins: Exhaustion, awe and gooey mushiness. Look at it. Just look at it. Wow.
3 hours: Disbelief. Slight concern that Baby won’t be quiet and I don’t know how to look after it. Where’s the thing you press to call the midwife? Can she come home with us? Feed it more. Pain killers wearing off, down below feeling a little bruised.
6 hours: Uncomfortable. Fanny and arse on fire, can’t sit down. Shifting uncomfortably from left bum cheek to right helps. Want to go home.
12 hours: Drained but excited. Babies in ward waking up constantly. Mine slept, I got 5 hours! I’ve got this Mum shit down! Can’t wait to get home.
12.5 hours: Embarrassed. Just been told off for not waking Baby up every 3 hours. How was I supposed to know?!
1 day: Impatient. Still waiting for going home papers. Still can’t sit down.
1.5 days: Panicked. Just had midwife spiel on all the things you should and shouldn’t do, the appointments you have to make, the legal requirements you’re supposed to remember. What have I done? Who thought this was a good idea? Lower half of body in excruciating pain after jumping up to gather leaflets in eagerness to demonstrate how good a mother I’m going to be.
1.7 days: Delighted. Walking (shuffling) through the double doors out of the hospital with sleepy little baby. This is going to be marvellous!
1.75 days: Sluggish. Wondering who drove a bus into your vagina and whether you’ll tick over to 24 hours parking since that’s how long this 200m walk to the car is going to take.
1.8 days: Overjoyed. Home! Back into gooey mushiness and gazing wonderment, especially as all it does is sleep! I love it!
2 days: Terrified. What the fuck? Who let me bring this thing home? I don’t know how to look after a child! Why does it keep making that noise? Oh….the Baby has gone green. It’s covered in poo. That’s ok. I can handle poo even if it does go from ears to toes. Cleaning is fine. Pretend it’s a dirty frying pan. What’s next? Don’t worry about what’s next. One thing at a time. Deal with the shit.
3 days: Worried. Unable to remember the last time I closed my eyes and that high pitched wail didn’t pierce my ear drum. Arse and fanny swollen to the size of a house. Just want to sleep for 12 hours like before it got here.
4 days: Tearful. Boobs swollen to watermelons. Wondering when I might not feel like I’ve been run over by a bus forwards, backwards and forwards again.
5 days: Mortified and Irritated. Wet patches on my top. Milk keeps seeping through in front of my father in law. Sick of the smell of flowers, they keep making me sneeze. Baby sleeps on all visitors then does nothing but wail for me. Go away! It’s my Baby!
One week: Annoyed. Thought “sleeping like a baby” was a thing?
Two weeks: Shit! Got a cold. Fanny stinging constantly and only relieved when crab walking naked round house. Found all the leaflets from the midwife and haven’t done any of it. So, so tired. And Husband is a dick.
Three weeks: Amazed. 4 consecutive hours sleep last night! New. Woman. Still feel like eyeballs have been sandpapered but can survive on this. Only 40 minutes late to friends house today. Winning! Bits are itchy but bearable. Love Husband, he’s so great.
3.1 weeks: Disappointed. Aaaaargh! Must have been a one off. Back to 3 90 minute blocks of sleep. Why hasn’t stupid Husband got boobs?! Think I might die of sleep deprivation. Cuddled the checkout boy in Tescos by accident. Call mum begging for her to take the Baby away. Call back 10 minutes later to cancel, guilt set in. Such a bad Mother. Didn’t mean it. Promise. Missed doctors appointment altogether as caught in a poo-eat-sick spiral. Begged for new appointment. Fanny relief came in the form of a cream. Why didn’t they send me away from the hospital with this?!
4 weeks. Defeated. Can’t take this. Babies shouldn’t have such stupidly small stomachs. Whose idea was it to have a baby anyway?
5 weeks: Elated! Baby smiled! Love it so much! It’s so cute, look at this!
6 weeks: Hopeful. Black clouds are clearing. Last 3 nights had 2 lots of 4 consecutive hours’ sleep. That smile…
6.5 weeks: Delirious. Doctor talked about sex at 6 week check. Laughed all the way home. Then cried when saw Husband. Please don’t run away with Hot Receptionist with her stupid in-tact fanny.
8 weeks: Furious. Why the fuck are you stabbing my baby with all these diseases? I’m not coming back for the next set of immunisations, this is ridiculous.
9 weeks: Ashamed. Tried that thing the doctor said about. Fanny is a cave. It will never be the same again. Cried during sex. Husband will never touch me again. Just take him Hot Receptionist…
11 weeks: Satisfied. Tried “it” again in spare bedroom after Baby fell asleep on our bed. It was ok. Bit like being 16, but ok. Will leave handcuffs and lingerie in the drawer for a while longer yet.
3 months: Knowledgable. Researched immunisations and decided to go back. Resisted punching doctor. Gave advice to another Mum in docs waiting room. Feel like a hero. I know stuff! Feeling brighter. Accepting of new life. Wish I could get back in my jeans for date night.
4 months: Organised. Routine established. Days have structure. Baby wakes up at 3am then 7am. Do-able. Joined gym. Have the occasional thought about going back to work, throat swells up.
5 months: Confused. Weaning? Is like weeing? Thought potty training was ages away. Must talk to other Mums.
5.5 months: More confused than ever. Buy blender. And bananas. And rice. Basmati?
5.6 months Wrong rice. Return it and buy Baby rice.
6 months: Exasperated. Routine lost. Spend all day feeding. Shit stinks.
6.5 months: Betrayed. Dada?! Are you kidding me?
7 months: Trepidation. Err….it moved. WTF? This house is a danger zone.
8 months: Anxious. Why must everything go in the mouth?! You can’t eat Babybel wax! Wish it would lie still again.
9 months: Heartbroken. “Keep In Touch” day at work. Cry on train. Cry in toilets at work. Call home seven times. Run back to the train station and snap heel on new shoes. Don’t care. Don’t let go of Baby for 3 hours. Re-do finances and research working at local nursery.
10 months: Pained. Back killing from holding baby upright so it can walk. Can’t you just crawl again?
11 months: Focused. Spend all day on knees with arms around Baby making a cage to stop it falling on face. Bump on head from last week. Am waiting for Social Services to knock on door. Finally able to do button up on pre baby jeans. Now to lose muffin top.
12 months: Proud and Reminiscing. Made it to a year! Baby is so big and so clever! More so than every other baby at nursery. It’s gone too fast! Remember how cute it was? Remember that sniffly noise it used to make? Big sigh. Maybe we could go away for the weekend and drink and lie in like grown ups. Remember when we used to lie in? Remember how much fun Friday nights were? Remember when parents used to say all those cliche things and we’d roll our eyes but now we know they’re all true? Don’t care….love new life.
Recognise any of these as things you feel in the first year?! Send yours in via the Making Little People Facebook page or on Twitter (@makinglittleppl). More blog posts available here.
Mothers Day is just around the corner and since it’s my 3rd one and I have two Girlies, I intend to take full advantage. Note that none of this post is sponsored, I’m just sharing my fave things that I would like as Mothers Day gifts! Listen up Husband!
I want to wake up in my favourite Egyptian Cotton bedsheets, minus the poo stains, sick patches and wee puddles. These ones are expensive but totally worth it. The annoying thing is that they get softer the longer you have them…we often debate how many bodily fluids are acceptable before you throw them away and start again.
I expect to be brought burning hot tea in my beautiful Emma Bridgewater Mummy mug. And I want to drink it while it’s hot. With some hot cross buns. And maybe a chocolate digestive. Or two.
After breakfast I would like to put on my fat cover ups, I’m loving this Alexander McQueen one which I’ll wear with my sexy fat pants and stretchy jeans (we all know I mean pyjamas) ready to fall asleep in later.
After a little play, maybe doing some jigsaw puzzles, I might have a little nap. Then I want us all to mark our heights on this amazing measuring chart. It’s an alternative to doing it on a wall and can move house with you, which I love.
We’re probably past midday now and allowed a glass of prosecco so I’ll have the £5 one I’ve discovered in Lidl or if Husband is feeling flush then I’ll have the pretty Pink one from Waitrose. My own Mum will stop by for a glass I’m sure!
Finally my hand will be adorned with this beautiful ring while they all tell me how much they love me and that the house just wouldn’t work without me.
In the afternoon the Girls will sleep for two hours at exactly the same time whilst I laze (glamorously of course) on the sofa maybe watching one of the films I just haven’t got to recently…Bad Mom seems like a good choice.
After a surprise evening meal at a local pub where my daughters are perfectly behaved and everyone comments on how wonderfully brought up they must be, I’m told that next day I’m going to a spa with my best mum friends! A day here at Champneys Forest Mere will I’m sure leave me feeling calm and serene, ready to accept another week of Girly no1 covering herself in food and drink and Girly no2 crying for 2 hours every day before bed.
Bedtime swiftly follows taking only ten minutes because no one wriggles, runs away naked or cries so I’m on the sofa by 7.30 ready to tuck into the huge bar of chocolate waiting for me. Obviously it’s ok for me to eat since I didn’t buy it myself. Healthy eating maintained!
As much as this is my dream day, we all know it’s far more likely that I’ll wake up in my poo-stained, ripped sheets with one baby being sick down my cleavage while my toddler jumps on my head. We’ll eat stale hot cross buns with cold tea in our PJ’s and then have a glass of flat prosecco that was opened 3 days ago. No one will sleep, during the day or at night. My only Mothers Day gift will be a piece of card with some tissue paper stuck to it that no1 made at nursery. Girly no2 will produce 10 pooey nappies and it will rain all day so we won’t be able to leave the house. We won’t bother going out for dinner because the baby won’t stop crying and Girly no1 won’t eat anything on the menu, so we’ll eat ready meals from Tescos in front of CBeebies. It will be perfect and I’ll love every second.
Happy Mothers Day Super Mamas! Enjoy your day as much as I will! Please like or comment below. Further blog posts available here.