Travelling with three under three

If I had to describe our recent family holiday in a word, that word would have to be non-stop! I had no idea that organising a family holiday for five was going to be so absolutely exhausting. I would have booked an extra day for me to take a break on the other end if I had.

Well the day we left was always going to be a bit hectic. We had kids to get to daycare, luggage to collect from a friend, dogs to get to kennels, packing to be finalised and everyone to the airport.

We started the day just like any other with the usual morning routine of breakfast for everyone, lunches for the girls and everyone dressed and ready and out of the house to daycare. After the daycare drop, I headed over to a friend’s house who was kind enough to loan me some pull along wheely backpacks (which turned out to be a total hit – me thinks Santa might get a memo about these gems!).

On my way back home, while I was still child-free I stopped by a shopping centre to get myself some breakfast, because somewhere along the line I’d forgotten myself! Always the way isn’t it? While I’m at the shops I get the idea to get some headphones and maybe a 1 into 2 headphone jack for the iPad. So I wander into Big W and find these two lifesaving gems:

For a total of $45 I was able to set up the girls with their own set of headphones and a one into five headphone jack that will be future proof once I have three kids wanting to watch the iPad at once. For the headphones, I chose the second from cheapest option as the cheapest looked a bit too flimsy for my two rough nuts but have since seen some at Kmart that are just as good, if not better and cheaper. The girls still managed to take foam and ear covers off, but the headphones stayed in one piece throughout.

Pleased with my purchases, I then ventured through the stationery area and found an awesome Crayola Colour Wonder mini folder which had three colour wonder textas (no mess) and 15 mini sheets of Disney Princesses to colour in – picking up one each for the girls, I was on my way to get COFFEE!

I already had an assortment of entertainment for the girls ready to go, but it turned out that the three things that I purchased on the morning of departure together with the iPad were what ended up keeping them occupied for the flying time on both flights. As a back-up though, I did have on hand an ABC colouring in book from Big W, “Barbie Dolls“, colouring Pencils, flash cards, random stickers and sticker posters all from Kmart.

So, with final pieces of the kid’s plane entertainment puzzle complete and coffee in hand for my husband, I headed home to finish packing before I had to go and collect kids from daycare. I was very careful to hide all of the entertainment until we were on the plane – turns out this was harder than I expected – and I also ensured that it was all within one pocket of their bag, separate from the food so that I could have easy access and not show my hand too early. Upon seeing the wheely bags on returning home from daycare, the girls instantly wanted to see what was in them so I should have known better.

When I arrived home, my dad was there ready to assist my husband to get the dogs to the kennel as big dog is way too big to go in either of our cars and my dad has a ute to transport them. So they go off to do the dog drop and I finish up the last of my tasks before I have to leave for daycare pickup. I wish I’d taken more pictures, it was military precision people! I had clothes neatly laid out in piles for each person complete with shoes and accessories. I had everything packed and ready to go into the car.

Without kids or dogs around, I was able to move freely from upstairs to downstairs taking the big pram out of the boot and replacing it with the travel stroller that we were taking. Everything was going to plan, but I was on high alert that at any minute with one wrong move, the wheels could fall off this well-oiled machine.

My dad and husband arrived home, I took dad as a surprise to go collect the kids from daycare. They were suitably excited to see Grumpy and tell him all about how they were going on holidays. My dad is quite a hands on grandparent and it’s great to see how much joy he brings into their lives and vice versa. We arrive home and my husband has prepared lunch for everyone ready to go. So we all tuck into the food, get dressed and pack the car and we’re on our way to the airport and on schedule too.

We were being super frugal and didn’t want to pay for the airport parking, so my parents kindly came and collected my car from the airport for us and took it home to our house to park while we were away. But the girls thought that Granny and Grumpy were coming with us on our holiday and were so sad when they got in the cars and drove off! This was the first of many “disappointing” holiday experiences that we weren’t accounting for with the girls.

We checked in, dropped the stroller to oversized baggage (another “disappointing” holiday experience as the man stole our stroller to put under the plane – try explaining that to a toddler who by that stage is desperate for a nap but too excited to take one) and went on our merry way through security with no major issues. We boarded the plane, the girls hopped straight into their assigned seats and I encouraged them to “click-clack” their seatbelts. Bubs was a bit fussy by this stage so I took him from my husband and gave him a feed as we were taking off.

The flight itself was relatively uneventful as far as the girls was concerned. I got their mini colouring sets out and they happily coloured until we were in the air at which point bubs was settled and I handed him over to daddy so that I could get the girls all sorted with the iPad and the shows that I’d thought to download from Netflix. Thanks for being a lifesaver there Netflix! And thanks to the person who told me this could happen – I can’t remember who it was though but thank you.

Once we landed, it was all systems go getting two toddlers, a baby and four bags from the plane down the stairs and back up into the terminal. We got the cheap fares which meant that it was the basic service for this family. To add to the complications, it was raining when we landed but only drizzle thankfully, so I bundled everyone up into puffer vests and beanies and off we went down the stairs with me wearing bubs in the carrier and holding the girls hands. Husband followed behind with all of our bags and also held onto the back on the carrier just in case I slipped.

Luckily when it became obvious that one of the girls was going to have a melt down from the loud noises on the tarmac, a staff member stepped forward and offered to carry some bags so that my husband could carry her out of the noise. Back into the terminal and we all wandered at toddler pace to baggage claim.

Bag and strollers collected, some additional complications of a lovely little activity bag courtesy of the airport (great idea but caused issues from the minute it was handed over to the minute we hid it away) and we were again on our feet to collect the “new car” as the girls referred to our hire car. We also had “new beds” and “new homes” during our trip. We had a slight hold up when the hire company who are usually amazing with car seats, hadn’t fitted all three car seats. Then they couldn’t find the middle seatbelt. Then just as they were about to give up and get us another car (while I was mentally chanting “Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade!), they found the middle seatbelt. Then they started fitting the seats in again.

Finally, only 45 minutes behind schedule, we were on the road to my sister’s home. We arrive to a warm reception from my sister and niece. My brother-in-law was on his way home from work at that time. We settled in, the girls made themselves right at home going to play with everything they could get their hands on in my niece’s room. My sister served the kids a dinner that my niece had planned for them. They had a token bite or two and were done as toddlers sometimes are in a strange place with strange “new food”.

During our visit with my sister, the girls had a bath, bubs got to have a play and a cuddle with everyone, one of the girls was the victim of an over excited fur nephew who just wanted to cuddle her, not realising that his 20 something kilos of dog would knock a 12 kilo toddler flying (she was fine). Then with all of the kids bathed and changed into pyjamas, it was into the car to drive the hour and a bit to our final destination for the evening – Seaworld!

Arrival, checking in, getting settled and putting kids to bed all happened in some kind of surreal cloud and finally we were all in bed asleep looking forward to a big day ahead at Seaworld.

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