Toddlers, Tantrums and Travel
Travelling as a parent is tough. Travelling on your own is tough. Travelling as a single parent is bloody tough. When you are dealing with packing and unpacking, meeting the deadlines of flights and travel arrangements, lack of sleep, jet lag and then having to remain the patient parent that you envision yourself to be....phew!!! It is exhausting! I consistently learn a lot about myself when I am away from home. I end up constantly re-evaluating what is important and what my expectations are of myself and of my daughter. I recently had my parenting skills pushed to the limit when our 17 hour flight turned into an 18 hour flight. My daughter slept 4.5 hours on this flight (so I slept for half of that!). Once we had landed, our connecting flight was cancelled and then we were put on standby for the next flight. We ended up waiting for 12 hours in the airport before boarding our next flight, where we then had to wait an additional 2 hours in our seats before it even took off. During the time we were stuck at the airport, my daughter had the Queen of all tantrums. To be honest, I don't blame her! I wanted to chuck a wobbly too! It was while I was talking to the airline staff trying to get a seat on a plane, rather than being on standby... the lady was so lovely and understanding, she must have taken pity on me as she gave us food vouchers (winning!). I realised in that moment that even though I was exhausted and on the verge of crumpling, my daughter needed me to be strong and patient, to be loving and kind towards her and the people we were dealing with. When she was tired and irrational, the best way I could deal with her behaviour was to get down on her level, listen to what she was saying and just hold her.
**side note- straight after the airline staff member offered us food vouchers, I bust into tears. That sheer act of kindness and understanding was overwhelming to me in that moment. Poor lady didn't know what to do about the hot mess Mother that was in front of her!**
So, fresh off the back of our most recent trip, let me share with you some of my best tips on dealing with these situations.
- Be prepared- make sure you have snacks that your child will actually eat (we all know how unpredictable kids can be!). You should also make sure that you have about 3 different activities that your child will be able to do to pass the time. I generally pack some craft, something that is compact but that can immerse your child's imagination. There is a brand called Tiger Tribe who have the most brilliant little things that are perfect for travelling with kids from the age of 3 up. They are a wholesaler but there are quite a few stores which stock their amazing stuff. I literally don't travel without them.
- Be well rested- I know that when you are getting ready for a trip, it is so easy to lose sleep because of all the things you need to get organised in time. Especially when you have other people to get organised on top of yourself. However, YOU are the one that has to keep the ship from sinking. You are the one who will be dealing with everyone else's irrational, tired behaviour. If you are well rested, you will be in a better headspace to deal with these things.... if in doubt, there is always wine on the flights right?! ;)
- Be organised- I know that this may seem like a given but it is important. To attempt to ease our struggles while travelling, I arrange everything before leaving. Hotels, internal flights, car hire, pocket wifi, how we are getting from Point A to Point B...everything. It does mean that there is a lot of planning to do at home but it eases your stresses when away.
- Chill out- I say this because kids are unpredictable. They may be full of beans and ok to stay awake until all hours one night but then then next day have tantrums at anything (mainly because they are tired!). As hard as it is, do not plan every second of every day while you are away. Allow for slow days or slow mornings or early nights. Be flexible with your plans and what you want to get done in each location you visit. Have a list of things you definitely want to do and make them happen, then have another list of things that you would like to do if/when you have time. Both you and the kids need to learn to be ok if everything doesn't go to plan. There will be days when nothing goes to plan. Also, if you're a single parent like me, make sure you have something to do once the kids are asleep. Personally, I edit photos, plan the next day, write for my blog all while drinking a wine, eating chocolate and watching netflix (some staples are hard to leave behind, even in third world countries, lol!).
As a parent, you may know what it is like to be literally at the end of your patience. I have recently realised that as much as lessons need to be learned, there are ways to teach where you remain calm. Also, bribery works wonders (as does elimination of their toys if all else fails!). If you have decided to travel with your kids, remember that money means absolutely nothing to them, that this trip is for you as much as it is for them- maybe more as you are the one who will have to remind them of all the things you got up to while you were away. Most importantly, make memories that you want to tell your friends and family.