In less than 3 weeks I am taking all 3 of my girls back to Dublin to see our fantastic family and friends. We cannot wait!! Seriously the excitement is starting to build and all the girls want to do is pack. It is 18 months since we have been home to Dublin and during that time Little F came to join our family – this means, bar my parents, nobody else has met her! How exciting for you all in Dublin, as she’s so adorable.
As the excitement grows, so does my anxiety about getting there. No really, I’m trying not to be stressed and take it in my stride. So far I have done the same trip alone with a 4 month old and a 2 and a half-year old and another solo trip with a 14 month old. The things I have learned I will share with you and you will know that you too could take it on and achieve it.
A lot of people I talk to think I’m crazy! They couldn’t imagine taking on such a trip by themselves with 3 small kids. But you see the reward for me outweighs the stress. When we arrive in Dublin, I know I’ll be met at the arrivals gate by my family (with a banner), welcoming us home. Trips home are always tough, emotionally. I miss my family and friends all the time but those emotional hugs in Dublin Airport are amazing! Not much can surpass them. When you see your then 3-year-old sprint through the arrivals gate shouting Nana Nana with tears of happiness and offering huge hugs all you can do is give in to the emotion and enjoy those oh so special embraces from your parents, sister, brother-in-law and nieces. I’m tearing up now just thinking of the welcome.
But down to the important business, how will I possibly get there? Below I’ll share 5 tips to help you get there and keep you sane….
1. Pack light
I need to carry an 11 month old in a carrier and keep control of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. They like to run off when they see exciting things but I cannot take that chance in a busy Dubai Airport. I need to bring the essentials…
- 7 passports (they all travel on both Irish and Australian passports, out on 1 in on the other)
- Snacks – more on this later
- Changes of clothes (most importantly for me!)
- Lip balm and moisturiser, this is one of the most essential things I can recommend! I’ve been in the situation before where my lips are so dry they are bleeding
- Child-size headphones
- Kids panadol and nurofen
- Sudocreme – I’ve also had to borrow a tube of cream in the past!
All the while carrying a baby in a carrier and holding the hands of 2 children – I’m unsure how I will manage all of that – especially through security!
2. Ask for help
Be upfront at security, I have liquid, I have food for my baby, I have kids’ medicine and I am not able to take it all out and put it in a plastic bag. Yes no problem you can open my bag and search through it, as long as you don’t make it any harder for me.
When you are on the flight, ask for help – can you hold my baby while I use the bathroom, can you put my bags up for me, can you take my bags down, can you pick up my child from the floor as she is throwing a tantrum and I am feeding my baby (I’ve experienced this and a beautiful kind woman helped me). People are nice and generally feel sorry for you.
3. Grab an airport stroller
Don’t even attempt to bring your pram onto the plane as carry-on and expect to be able to get it at transit. Even if they oblige that sounds too tough to me, it’s just another thing for you to worry about. Any major airport I have been to have complementary strollers. If they are not offered at the gate go ask customer service at your airline and they will get you one – again ask for help. A lot of people don’t realise this service is available for free.
4. Sleep and eat whenever you can
If the kids are asleep don’t try to watch a movie – shut your eyes and try to relax. You don’t know when this opportunity might arise again. There is nothing worse than waiting at a stopover, desperately trying to stay awake so you don’t either lose your kids or miss your connecting flight!
If your food comes at a bad time, ask the air-hostess to keep it for you and then ask for it later when it’s possible to eat. Same goes for when your kids’ food arrives, don’t wake them if they are asleep – they are most likely not hungry, but do ask the air-hostess to keep it warm for them so they can have it later if they want.
5. Become Frequent Flyers
Join the club! We generally try to fly with the same airline over and over again. Over the years this has saved us quite a lot of money. Instead of getting upgrades we use our miles to reduce the cost of the flight, our last trip home we managed to save $1k with our miles. Also the more you travel you can increase your membership status, a higher status means you can use the airport lounges. The last 2 times I have travelled alone with the kids this has been fantastic – it means I can get them changed, get them food and drinks and all sit down at a table together in a secure area without having to hang out at the McDonalds play area. Unfortunately this time we are flying with a different airline but as 2 of the 3 girls are now over 2 they are both signed up to the rewards program and the family earns miles as a group. There has to be some benefit from spending all those thousands of dollars.
Next up I’m going to do a post about suitable airplane snacks, stay tuned.
No matter where I am or where I live I always refer to Dublin as home and it always will be.