Thank you so much to those that popped up a comment with some advice on travelling with the toddlers. I took most of it and I am pleased to say that the whole trip was so much smoother than either Chris or I expected. I am so proud of my little angels who proved to be adaptable and easy going when easy going is not a word I would have associated with my kids especially not our Pudding.
To start with I managed to mess up our flight up to Jo’burg and had somehow managed to book it for after our return journey (I blame this on booking tickets in bed on a Saturday morning after a full night’s sleep when I am no longer used to this luxury!) So in sorting out the tickets our flight ended up only leaving Cape Town at 8.00pm! An hour after the twins bedtime. I naively hoped this might mean they would sleep on the flight, but we had no such luck. We booked in early for our flight, got seats opposite the aisle from each other and then allowed the kids to play until time for boarding. Other people waiting for their flight might have thought our kids were misbehaving, but I wanted to get out their energy before confining them, so they “Marks, Set, Go” raced up and down and did the forwards backwards dance and the stomping and clapping and all the other high energy songs I could come up with. Despite not having used our pram for over six months, we decided to take it along to help herd the kids through the airport and it was great as it left them confined and strapped in when we needed to move about and left our hands free. On both flights the airline was great and taking the pram and getting it back to us really quickly.
On the flight we were prepared with little story books and our tablets. I had also prepped pages for them to colour in, but that was a dumb idea. When you have a toddler on your lap there is no room to lower the little table for them to colour in. They were angels. They sat on our laps good as gold, played with the tablets and we chatted. I think it helped that it was late as they were tired and also sitting and chatting while they drank their milk mimicked their bedtime routine. Yes I had on hand more snacks than my kids eat in a whole week, but they weren’t really interested.
We had rented car seats to go in the car we were borrowing, but as they were completely different to ours it took us 45 minutes to get them into the car and so it was almost midnight before the kids got to bed. Add to that the kids were on mattresses on the floor in our room, so we expected them to not sleep too well. I expected the next day to be hell on earth!
Well the late night meant they slept pretty well and were so cute and adorable the next morning (not they did not sleep late they were up at their usual 7.00am-ish). Getting them to afternoon nap was near impossible. We started with our usual, put them in their sleeping bags and put them down, but Sausage had other ideas, like investigating the room and tickling his sister. Eventually we put them in bed with us, put on the “Ice Age” movie figuring that quiet time would still be better than letting them run riot and who would have believed it but they fell asleep. Our kids do not watch much TV at all and as a result I thought the movie would be too stimulating for them to sleep, but it worked so well that for the rest of the time we were away at afternoon nap time, we put them in our bed, put on “Ice Age” and they fell asleep in no time at all.
Our poor kids were hauled around from one new place and face to another for five days and they were amazing. Even with significantly reduced sleeping they were an absolute pleasure. I think all the new places, faces and stimulation kept them too busy to get grumpy. Even at the funeral they just smiled and giggled and played with their cousin as though he were their best friend and not that they had just met him.
The flight back was similar to the flight up and no drama at all. Put them in their own bed last night when we got home and straight to sleep and slept right through the night. Honestly after all the change in routine I was all set to redo sleep training when we got home, but so far so good.
So what did I learn:
- My kids are resilient
- My kids are social and love new people
- Flying is not as exciting as you think it is, actually it is just sitting very still in a confined space
- We need far less than we think we do now that they are getting older and for our next trip up to Jo’burg in December for my brother’s wedding we probably don’t need the trailer we thought we would have to haul up with everything for them
- Other people’s houses are no place for a toddler – we had a few breakages and a few scary moments (for example when they followed the dog out the dog flap to the garden with the pool that had no net on it*)
*if you ever lose your toddler and you are in a place with open water please always start looking for them at the water. My mommy instinct kicked in as soon as I realised I couldn’t find my kids. I ran outside. Chris said “but they can’t get outside” and there they were sitting in the garden, nowhere near the pool, but still.