Booked it, packed it, fucked off.
Was pretty much how we used to roll in our pre-children days. We picked out a destination with minimal criteria – just because that’s where we fancied going. We packed the night before as we didn’t need much. Then we literally got up and walked out the door; we fucked off. There was little preparation, it was quite simple; bikini, flip flops, passports, tickets, all in our carry on bag because we wanted to walk straight of the plane into the nearest bar or restaurant (obviously not in a bikini, I did take a couple of dresses, merely trying to illustrate the simplicity here. Oh and not forgetting the make-up, as if).
It was simple.
Our holiday started as soon as we woke up on the morning we were due to depart. We got dressed and threw any last-minute items into our case; iPod to listen to on the plane and maybe a book or two. We had a nice stroll around duty-free perusing perfumes, sunglasses and alcohol. We treated ourselves to a little something then had a nice sit down with a spot of breakfast or dinner. We’d have another stroll round the airport check the time and wonder when we’d be boarding because it felt like we were at the airport for sodding AGES. When we arrived at our destination we were free; no schedules, no work. Just relaxing and recuperating from our then seemingly hectic lives.
Then we had kids. Oh how life changed.
Then we decided to go on holidays with kids. Oh how life changed.
The simplicity is all but a distant dream. These days holidays require full-scale planning pretty akin to what the Secret Service go through prior to a presidential visit. They take months of planning and immense coordination. All accommodation is scrutinised for safety, location, accessibility, and how they are equipped to deal with three children. Flight times are selected around schedules of eating and napping; no expense spared as a pre or post-flight meltdown is to be avoided at all cost. The eyes on the ground are thoroughly exhausted. If you can imagine men in suits combing beaches, villas and restaurants with those dark camera glasses that feed all information back to Control Centre. Where it is thoroughly analysed to insure all situations are covered and to eliminate the potential of surprises. There are to be NO SURPRISES. We have nowhere near the power of the Secret Service so we have to rely on Trip Adviser and Google Maps for reconnaissance. Mmm that looks like a dodgy road – will the pushchair get through? Or most importantly can we feed them (and me) in a moments notice if needs be.
Planning is the key.
Planning is imperative.
Planning gets you through.
Every possible scenario is accounted for. It is a time for great lists and what ifs. Is the accommodation in close proximity to the beach as if it’s too far we will have to endure the chorus of ‘I’m tired, carry me’ on the way back. There will be no wandering and no browsing so we need to know what local restaurants and shops can offer as to avoid hunger meltdowns and unnecessary delays when sourcing items that we couldn’t bring and are of immediate use upon arrival e.g
It is a time for strategies; surviving the long haul flight. Various approaches are hashed out from simple craft activities, child rotation, choosing apps for the tablets, watching as much telly as we can possibly get away with and feeding them what ever they want when they want. Will we double team tantrums or do we allocate a child to an adult. Does the toddler need his own adult allocated to him and can the other cope with two pre schoolers. There are endless decisions to be made.
The packing begins two weeks in advance and all items are checked off the mother list as it goes in the suitcase. The order at which it is packed is crucial as items that are needed when we arrive are placed at the top of the case e.g
wine, pj’s, nappies, etc. Every child’s carry on bag is thoroughly thought out as to ensure they have spare clothes (wee accidents) and a change of clothes for when we arrive (wonderful sunshine). They will be allocated a certain position on the plane to ensure ease of access. No one wants to be scrambling around trying to find nappies when the toddler shits. The smell will travel fast in that metal box in the sky. Speed is crucial.
The preparation is all being executed in between looking after the kids. After the lists get out of control, the toddler insisting on throwing stuff out of the case as you pack, the other half reminding you that people around the world also have children and that there are shops and realising his only input to the preparation is organising pool inflatables (6ft dinghy WTF) – it comes.
Unfortunately it is also time for a teeny bit of meltdown or pre-holiday strop. The pressure of the lists and trying to account for all eventualities started to make me twitch. Emotions are high as all I want is for everything to be great. Busy, tired and in every way in need of a holiday. My little head bulging with things that I need to remember, trying to ensure that I don’t forget anything and recounting pairs of pants over and over again, all becomes too much. There never seems to be enough time and yet again it feels like everything is going way to fast for me to slow down and regroup.
But it will be great, keep going I tell myself, not long till we’re in the sun. All will be perfect.
Eventually we get to the airport, after last-minute scramble to organise transport (sodding car decides to break down). But we get there. But there will be no perusing duty-free, apart from the 15 minute slot we allocated for each other to dash round and there will be no relaxing over breakfast. The time goes so fast with getting through security (wow, that’s parenting Krypton Factor type stuff), toilet breaks, nappy changes, getting them all fed and more toilet breaks and suddenly you’re on the plane. I look around at everyone and they all look a bit disheveled and at a point where I’d normally be signalling to my other half that we need to go home. My other half looks knackered. We catch each others eyes and we telepathically communicate to each other.
Please let this go ok.
Please let them not be little bastards.
Just twelve hours to go.
We can do this shit.
Barbados here we come.
“MUURM MUURM, I NEED A WEE”