10. The Price
Remember when it was just the two of you? Remember when you could log onto an airline website, look up the cost of flights, and not immediately recoil in horror when the options appeared on screen? We can – and we miss it. These days, we have to forgo proper holidays on exotic, far-flung shores, as we spend the entire budget on getting the kids home to see their grandparents. We’re pretty sure we’d enjoy those exotic, far-flung shores far more than being squeezed into a small seat with zero leg space for eight hours, too. Just a hunch.
9. The Countdown
At some point in the lead-up to take-off, you will invariably make the mistake of telling the kids how many days are left until departure. And every time it happens, you’ll regret it just a few seconds later. They want to make a chart and mark off the days. They want to pack their bags over and over and over again with inappropriate items. They want to stand by the door and wait, like it will somehow speed up the process. It goes on…
8. The Packing
When the end of that countdown is finally reached you’ll need to pack – and even thinking about it gives us palpitations. Right from the early days of remembering sterilised bottles, to the days of thinking up appropriate finger foods for toddlers, to the days of finding enough entertainment to keep some (extremely) active kids still for nearly eight hours – having children has expanded our hand luggage tenfold. And that’s not to mention all the suitcases, strollers, and car seats that have to come along for the ride, too…
7. The Luggage
Talking about all those suitcases, the next issue is working out how you’re going to get them to the airport. Generally this involves a husband with the unenviable task of fitting them into the boot of the car like an adult version of a jigsaw puzzle (usually at approximately 5.15am).
6. The Airport
Once you’ve checked those bags in, there’s that couple of hours to get through security with some children worryingly fascinated by the X-Ray machine, handing over the passports without the kids making a break for it, and dodging displays of confectionary in Duty Free as you make your way to the gate. It sounds simple – but as all parents know, it really isn’t.
5. The Sitting Still Bit
And then there’s the flight itself. Assuming you take off on time and have bagged yourselves decent seats all together (not always a given, although we’ve never been lucky enough to find ourselves separated from the children), there’s still the significant hurdle of persuading them that they have to sit still for nearly eight hours. This is where the fun really starts.
4. The Sleeplessness
The thing with flying is that they pump something into the air to make children stay awake throughout the journey, even if they usually nap for a good chunk of the day. This isn’t strictly true, of course – but it might as well be. As even if you can manage to get them off, you can guarantee that a nice dose of turbulence, a shove by a passing drinks trolley, or a screaming baby in the row alongside (possibly yours; you wouldn’t be surprised) will wake them up again after two minutes.
3. The Jealousy
While all this is going on, you can’t fail to notice that there are people surrounding you without children in tow, watching those films and eating their meals without a single bread roll being thrown at their heads.
2. The Other Side
Once you finally touch down, you have the joy of “the other side” to contend with. Namely dragging overtired children through an unnaturally bright airport, through a never-ending passport queue, into the baggage hall to trip people up with suitcases, and eventually through to Arrivals. If you have relatives waiting on the other side, it makes it all worthwhile, of course – but if you don’t, this is the point when it seems the ordeal will never, ever end.
1. The Jet Lag
And after reaching your destination, it dawns on you that it probably won’t end – as those overtired, overexcited children just don’t want to sleep. So when you really need to collapse on the sofa and begin your holiday, you are instead negotiating with small people in pyjamas in a dark room. And the best bit? You know you have a repeat performance just a few weeks later to look forward to. Parenting – it’s all fun and games, isn’t it?