5 ways to avoid losing your sh*#%t on a long haul flight with kids

Being a lover of travel combined with having an Australian husband means we’ve experienced our fair share of long haul flights. We’re dab hands at ensuring those 23 hours on board go without a hitch. Add kids into the mix though and it’s a whole new ball game with new rules and motivational words to live by. Here’s some tips we’ve learnt along the way.

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1. Keeping them entertained for 23 solid hours of entertainment can seem incredibly daunting. It’s much more manageable if you break it up into bite size chunks – packing games, magazines and iPads can seem like the solution but you need to stagger these otherwise all your entertainment options will be out the window an hour into your flight.

Instead, similar to home, get a bit of routine together. For the next hour we’ll watch TV, then we’ll go for a walk through the cabin chatting to people. An hour later we’ll go to the loo and freshen up. Next hour we’ll have a snack – with the aim being to make tasks last as long as you can. If you know your plan you can try be on the front foot and not just react to their screams for something new. (Worth noting there will be screams, who has ever spent a 24 hour period with a toddler with no screams?? It’s how you react and deal that counts).

2. Sleep blessed sleep. One of the biggest questions I get asked by friends is whether the kids slept on the flight. Whether they be 3 months or 3 years, sleep is really tricky. The benefit of 3 months is that they’re in a bassinet… 3 years and they’re in their own seat – in-between is more of an issue.

One of the hardest things we found in getting them to sleep was getting them to switch off. With so many people around, noise and lights – over stimulation was our biggest issues. When they were babies, putting a muslin loosely over the bassinet helped enormously – for toddlers an eye mask after they’d drifted off. Prepping before you leave with sounds and smells that can be taken with you really helped too – I’ve used the same essential oils since they were little so a familiar smell on the muslin helps to eradicate the musty aeroplane smell!

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3. Feeding the beast. There seems to be a lot of myths about feeding little ones on the flight and specifically milk if you’re bottle feeding (clearly no dramas with taking your boobs on board). So a few things of note

  • Under twos can take as much formula on a flight as you need – over twos can’t
  • We went with ready made stuff for ease in small bottles so nothing would go off
  • You don’t have to open the bottles at security (they go through a special x-ray machine) something I was worried about for fear of them going off
  • If you want to minimise the stress UK side, do a click and collect order at Boots in the terminal. That way you don’t have to go through security with it and you know it will definitely be there.

When it comes to ‘real’ food – we’ve found huge discrepancies between the airlines. We always order the kids meal (although they spend a lot of time picking ours) the main reason is they get their food first. Other than that though, I tend to rely on packing our own food for flights. We had a terrible  experience with BA – the boys slept through their meal on a 12 hour flight and we asked if they had any snacks… the answer was no but we were welcome to pick through the cleared away trays to see if  there were any rolls left over. Nice. On the other hand Singapore Airlines couldn’t do more and always had food available for the boys. If you do go for packing your own food, don’t pack yoghurts. You can’t take them through security.

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4. Seating choice is key. My husband and I have dwelled on the best ways to seat our family – divide and conquer or take it in turns. What works best for us with twins is to do shifts of childcare and shifts of sleep. That way we don’t both lose our sh*#%t for 23 hours!! Now the boys are bigger we aim to get three seats together for an adult and two kids and one ‘sanity seat’. Then do stints and swap regularly… that’s the plan anyway!

5. Remember, it won’t last forever. God I’ve whispered this to myself on many a flight but it sometimes needs reminding. My mantra: ‘By tomorrow we will be there. We won’t see these people again. No matter what happens in the next 23 hours, we will survive!’

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In addition to my tips, some well travelled friends have the following advice:

“Pack extra water and milk, and less nappies. Kids get quite dehydrated (as we all do) on the flight so need to keep the fluids up and as a result they also wee a lot less!”

“On really long flights, try and have a distinction between night and day. Changing into pyjamas, brushing teeth and settling down for a story can help them think it’s night, even if they don’t get to sleep!”

“Give babies and small children a dummy, bottle or boob at take off an landing to stop their ears popping”

“Make friends with other parents on the flight. There’s strength in numbers and they may be useful at 30,000 feet when you need a spare wet wipe or just to share an understanding smile”

“Don’t rush. Get to the airport early, make use of the soft play in the terminal or just climbing the chairs before boarding and make use of the early boarding.”

Finally, grow thick skin and ignore any haters. A lot of people will moan at the sight of a small child on board but you just have to focus on yourself and what you’re doing. And refer back to the mantra!

 

 

 

 

7 ways rain wont stop play (that don’t include a soft play)

When will it ever stop raining?! In the midst of winter down on the south coast the weather can only be described as bleak… not cold enough for snow, but miserable enough to want to hibernate under the duvet until Spring… someone give my toddlers the memo!

Two three year old boys make it near impossible to have a cosy day in watching movies. And any attempt of this inevitably results in upturned furniture, destroyed living room and eventually attempts at physical violence as they literally climb the walls with pent up energy. So it goes without saying that I don’t have many problems persuading them to Get Out. The difficulty comes in thinking what to do with them when we are out. So here some top things we’ve been up to this Winter:

Embrace the dirt

I blame Peppa Pig, but all kids seem to be obsessed with jumping in muddy puddles. FFS. But really if they’re going to get outside, kids are going to get dirty and I think you just have to get it over it. Since having twins, I’ve been pretty lucky that my standards on acceptable levels of cleanliness have been lowered A LOT – but even if you like everything to look pristine you might just have to suck it up. Everything can be washed – even a splash suit and down coat. Exploring dirt and the creatures, namely worms, hidden in the mud is exciting for young minds – telling the kids that loud noises scare the creatures is also an excellent way to keep them calm during the process!

Make yourself get out

On a day with rubbish weather, one of the biggest barriers for us leaving the house is actually me. Last winter I booked a local forestry school one morning a week – people thought I was mad only doing it in winter but it’s always easy to get out in summer. The class forced us to get up and out and we had so much fun when we were there, exploring the woods, making things and building fires. Skills the boys definitely remember, they’re so good at collecting sticks and not getting too close to a lit fire at the same time relishing the opportunity to be part of the process.

There’s no such thing as bed weather, just bad clothes

Being organised in winter is an absolute must, having double of everything with spare changes of socks and mittens being the essential items. As long as the little ones aren’t cold they’ll stay out for hours. We layer up with t-shirts, jumpers, leggings and trousers, socks, welly boot socks and then waterproofs and coats. The boys also adore their umbrellas so staying dry is actually fun. There’s a song they sing at nursery ‘put on your coat to keep yourself nice and cosy, put on your scarf to keep yourself nice and cosy’ that we sing, which helps actually getting them dressed!

Ride the train

If the weather is really too awful to bear, getting out and hitching a lift is a huge adventure for littlies. Even when you’ve got no where to go! Getting down to the train station, buying the tickets, getting on board and spotting things out the window for just a couple of stops can while away a few hours – and the kids have had some fresh air in the process. Take a picnic for the journey and it becomes one big adventure!

Head to the beach

I’m renowned for forcing everyone out the car on a blustery and wet beach (I even took a dip on New Years Day!). I find that 30 minutes at the beach in winter is the equivalent to a whole day in summer – throwing some seaweed around and back in the car or nearest cafe for a hot chocolate is often used as a bribe for getting blown around!

Embrace the dark

One of the most depressing things about winter here in the UK is the darkness – sunrise is at 7 then it’s down again by 4ish. Now the boys are at a certain age we’ve got them into star gazing, heading into the garden at night to look up and see what we can see. If we can we’ll head out for an ‘evening’ walk to listen for owls and other night time creatures. I also love just taking them for a walk through town, peeking into the houses which are all lit up imagining who lives there. We’ll also stop off at a cosy kid friendly pub for a ‘pub water’ (water with ice cubes and a lemon – what a treat!) and a packet of crisps. Although your toddler asking when they’re next going to the pub in front of the grandparents is a challenge you’ll also have to take on!

And finally…

Get stuck in, laugh and find pleasure in the little things. The cold and wet comes around every year, you might as well enjoy. The kids will if you do!

A must see… Wilderness Woods, East Sussex

Ever had one of those weekends where everything just falls into place? Well we had one, and it was pretty darn special!

We headed off all the way (1.5 hrs drive!) to East Sussex – we were blessed with being gifted a three night stay at a Treehouse at Fairoak Farm (more on that in a later post). But I wanted to quickly tell you about a little place we happened upon on our travels…

Wilderness Woods. And what a wondeful wilderness it is.

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A small sign signalled the spot off the road and we thought we’d give it a go. Greeted by a lovely little cafe in a quirky wooden house with hand written signs and beautiful looking cakes, we started to read up on the place.

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Owned by The Moorish family since 2014, the site is 62 acres of chestnut coppice with stands of beech, scots pine, douglas, cedar and giant sequoia trees. It’s been expertly managed to include a cafe, a workshop, a kitchen garden, camping shelters and the most wonderful children’s activities and play areas.

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We arrived at 2.15 – lunch stopped at 2.30 so first up was to order from Rachel’s Wilderness Cafe. Utterly delicious! Healthy lunch boxes for the kids and a cheese and pickle board for us. So much salad and fresh local goodness! The weather was perfect so we sat outside and while we ate the kids played in the mud kitchen and wooden platforms in the trees. All located amongst the cafe tables so we could keep an eye on everything. (

The Fox still managed to stack it a couple of times but he could literally fall over a crack in the pavement!)

After lunch we followed the (very small amount) of visitors into the woods. A beautiful area for the kids to run around, a tractor for them to climb all over and some sculptures for them to wow over – and us!

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As we carried on round we discovered little bridges, a christmas tree farm and plenty of sticks to pick up and turn into rockets and airplanes. We only just scratched the surface on the forest to explore. Older kids were further down the valley racing around – just so much space! As we returned on the loop we then discovered the giant swing, slide and zip wire – we definitely weren’t getting our two out of there in a hurry! But we promised them an ice cream back at the cafe. Perfect!

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It really is such a special spot – no rules, no plastic signs, no crowds. Just room to roam and explore and spend time together. If I could create my perfect spot to visit, this really would be it. It’s just… magic!

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And before I forget, the cost… you’re just asked to pay what you feel they deserve.

Wilderness Wood

Hadlow Down
East Sussex
TN22 4HJ

http://www.wildernesswood.org

Open Wednesday – Sunday 9am-5pm and every day in the school holidays.

There was a fairy birthday party in the woods while we there – email information@lucyslittleforestschool.com if you’re interested in finding out more. If only our two didn’t have their birthday in the middle of winter!

If you’re interested in camping, email emilyanddan@wildernesswood.org

Final words from me, go this weekend. Go before everyone ELSE finds out how wonderful this place really is 🙂