People told me not to do it. Some parents said they would rather eat a cactus than take an active and severely attached baby and a whinging snotty restless toddler on a 14 hour flight to South Africa. Not to mention the fun for the first 4 days of being awake with them from 1 – 5am eating cupcakes and playing with teddy in a foreign environment
But we did it anyway. Granny only turns 95 once and we heard there was going to be cake, so what could we do!
Once tickets were booked, many a nights were spent scouring the internet to prefect our itinerary, to ensure it was as kid friendly as possible, and that it was not only bearable, but actually fun. Who would have thought?
The purpose of this blog is partly to remind me of this happy month trip to South Africa for when I’m pining for something more exciting than singing Bananas in Pyjamas 17 times. The other part is to help out fellow crazy parents who ignore the advice from friends and family, much like we did.
About 6 weeks before our departure date, we started the preparation of our two and half year old toddler. We borrowed an aeroplane book from the library and we played aeroplane simulation games with teddies so that miss N would be all over this 14 hour flight. And the 3 internal flights. Miss N was drilled that when the seat belt sign is on, she has to sit down and wear a seat belt and she can have a lollipop for takeoff and landing. Worked a treat (pun intended). Lollipops take a long time to eat, and she was suitable well behaved for all take offs and landing.
Another parenting win was a memory game I made of activities, animals and people we would see in South Africa. It was a big hit, and helped us talk about what we would do and see on our holiday. We printed out pictures from google or photos twice and laminated them. It was also really light and a good game to play while we were traveling.
We also had a calendar to count down the days until we flew. And then there were no more days to cross, so we headed to the airport. We ran around the airport trying to exhaust our kids as there wasn’t going to be much room for movement for 14 hours, but in the end we just tired ourselves out too!
The flight wasn’t actually that bad. That’s another thing – have low expectations, and the worst thing that can happen is your expectations are met. There was a moment where I had 2 sleeping kids and the food arrived – it’s been a long time since I’ve wined and dined and watched a movie in peace.
We organised the seats with the bassinet in advance, mostly just for the extra space and a place to feed and contain Mr. A, as it would take a miracle for our nearly 8 month old to sleep by himself for more than 45 minutes at a time. (Never mind that the 3 month old next to us seemingly slept the entire journey!) Plus we ended up with an extra row behind us to ourselves so Miss N. could completely lie down. It was as good as it was ever going to get.
Other good things to know about plane trips – Rusks are good for babies, messy but take a long time to eat. Food is good, it is your friend. Don’t rely on plane food for your toddler, unless you hit jackpot and your toddler eats everything. Stickers, stamps, technology with toddler friendly headphones, water play in the bathroom (and just apologise to the next person in the queue), story telling (the long drawn out type), drawing, aqua doodle mat, a couple of books and then we were there.