Holiday! Celebrate! Fuck off Madonna – you’ve obviously never been trapped on a Ryan Air flight for four hours with two screaming, head butting, slightly poo covered children who are hell bent on seat kicking, vomiting, and trying to fly the plane.
With only a pack of soggy rice cakes, an iPad with 10% battery, and a Peppa Pig book to make the journey bearable – as lovely as a break in the sun sounds, sometimes it just doesn’t seem worth the effort (like when you’re apologising to the people sitting in front of you for the sixth time – happy slapping is NOT acceptable behaviour, yes, you realise this.)
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to get away and spend time together as a family, but once you have kids – holidays will NEVER be the same again. It all starts with:
You’ve managed to get some cheap flights – brilliant! Oh wait…how much for the privilege of bringing your clothes with you? OK, so a day trip to the zoo normally results in more bags than the average luggage handler at Heathrow sees in one day – so packing for a holiday is going to cost a FORTUNE. It’s decided – one 20kg bag for the kids and 10kg of hand luggage for you and your other half, you’ll just have to hand wash your knickers for 10 days. All good. In your face low-cost airlines.
Half an hour into packing – you’re already massively regretting your Scrooge McDuck mentality. You’re 8kg over your allowance and haven’t even packed the three different types of pool inflatables yet, or 26 baby grows that won’t get worn because it’s 30 odd degrees. Maybe you should take out the 120 nappies? But what if you can’t get nappies abroad? I mean, yes, it’s Greece and they have Wifi and everything so they probably have Pampers too – but WHAT IF THEY DON’T? You just can’t take that risk so end up whipping out another pair of knickers, and one packet of cotton wool. Perfect.
Maybe just one more pack of wipes… just to be on the safe side?
When I was a kid, I remembered the airport being super exciting and almost magical… As a grown up with two over tired children in tow, it’s more like a scene out of Labyrinth… After negotiating the carnage and chaos of the automated bag drop (the Ryan Air one at Stanstead is particularly delightful…), it’s on to the dreaded security. As a nervous flyer I’m all for the extra security checks, rather safe than sorry and all that… However it’s hard to feel appreciative while trying to simultaneously run after kids, re-pack all the extra knickers you’ve hidden in the pram, re-locate the electronic devices, put your shoes back on, and pull your jeans up from round your ankles because they’ve taken your belt. You think you’re in the clear until you see a stern looking airport official heading your way with your bag in one hand and a pouch of Ella’s Kitchen’s ‘Apples, Apples, Apples’ in another.
After convincing said airport official you weren’t planning on bringing the plane down with the power of puree, you’re off to the gate. No time for a coffee, peruse of the Duty Free, or a leisurely piss – nope, it’s go, go, go. They’ve called the gate and they’re closing the gate all in one fellow swoop and OF COURSE it’s at the opposite end of the bloody airport. So off you all run, in a Mcallister family esq sprint – made worse by the fact that you’re carrying 35kg of hand luggage between two adults, are pushing a knicker-laden pram and dragging a four-year old behind you – who is hellbent on taking out every ankle in a 5ft radius with his Trunkie.
It’s also on this sprint to the gate you realise airports are not pram (or wheelchair) friendly – you’ve just lugged everything and everyone down one flight of stairs only to be greeted with another flight you now have to go back up in order to get to the same level you’ve just been on. WHY?! Also, lifts in airports seem to be as commonly spotted as leprechauns.
You’re now hotter than the sun, dripping with sweat, and the child in the pram has lost one shoe along with a dummy – you’re fairly sure they’ve just laid a gigantic cable too… But you’ve made it, you’ve arrived at the gate just in the nick of… Why the bloody hell are you now standing in a queue longer than the great wall of China? You have thigh chafe from running in jeans for sod all reason.
Not boarding imminently at least means you have time to change the baby’s nappy, right? Wrong – the toilets, along with all the lifts, are apparently hidden in some kind of invisible and secret part of the airport Labyrinth you apparently need to earn special tokens for – possibly by getting through security without forgetting to remove all your liquids…? Who the hell knows.
One more perilous flight of stairs to get down, a walk across the tarmac in the pissing down rain and a mini domestic at the plane’s steps because neither parent can remember how to collapse the buggy and you’re ready to fly…
After you’ve sat on the runway for two hours that is… Yep nothing to make a four hour plane journey less enjoyable than by adding on extra time in a confined space. You’ve gone through all the snacks and you’ve still not taken off, the seatbelt sign is on and baby’s poo is now beginning to seep through their clothes and onto yours…
Finally you’re ready for take off – if you’re a nervous flyer then this is the time you start hyperventilating because you’ve endangered the lives of your whole family, and for what? Sun burn and moussaka. Your panic attack doesn’t last for long, however, as your four-year old is kicking the chair in front with the ferocity of a seriously pissed off kangaroo. The poo has also broken free of the small one’s nappy and has crept up their back – so your main focal point has shifted massively from death and more towards avoiding faeces on your face.
After an age the seatbelt sign goes off and ZOOM, you’re off and down that aisle faster than Usain Bolt. Parents who have ever had to change a wriggly small person’s nappy in an aeroplane toilet will know the horror of what come’s next – it’s basically the equivalent of wrestling a thrashing, screaming, shitty tiger in a wardrobe.
Everyone is now poo free, there’s a G&T and £8 mini tub of Pringles waiting for you on your tray table – so now the holiday can really begin…
“Mummy, I want to fly the plane.”
“No sweetheart, the pilot flies the plane – we stay in our seats.”
“Mummy, I want to fly the plane.”
“Sweetheart, I said no.We’re not allowed to fly the plane.”
“I WANT TO FLY THE PLANE, I WANT TO FLY THE PLANE, I WANT TO FLY THE PLANE, I WANT TO FLY THE PLANE, I WANT TO FLY THE PLANE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!!!”
Shit. Time for the iPad. Shit, shit. How has the iPad only got 5% battery?! You’ve got three hours left. Oh god, oh god, oh god. Panic sets in, your temperature soars and the sweat begins free-flowing once more.
Maybe you can convince them to go to sleep instead? What a bloody ridiculous idea. An hour later and the wailing is almost too much to take – sympathetic looks from fellow passengers have now been replaced by death stares and if you have to sing one more chorus of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ there’s a very strong possibility the baying mob will attack.
After the most socially awkward few hours of your life, the seat belt sign pings on and it’s finally time for the descent – which would be great apart from the kids have literally JUST fallen asleep. Sigh.
The wheels touch down, you roll your eyes at the knob heads who clap, and then begins the fun of trying to get everything out of the overhead locker before the seatbelt sign goes off – much to the annoyance of the air stewards. After exiting the plane using the ‘don’t let them in’ approach normally reserved by most Brits for traffic jams, you head off into the humidity to fight your way onto a bendy bus – using brute force if necessary. You’re all on, the doors are about to close and you hear a little voice say…”Mummy where’s the iPad?”. SHIT. Everyone’s off the bendy bus, back onto the plane and scouring the aisles for the electronic babysitter. On the plus, there’s the perfect opportunity to salvage something positive from the journey…
PART TWO – Dining out disasters, family photo fails, mini disco melt downs, iPads and ice-cream, and the joys of all inclusive alcohol