I just got back from six weeks of international travel with my husband and just-turned-three-year-old daughter Lily. My child, who bless her, is quite a challenge at home, was an absolute angel for the entire trip, with only three minor moments of public embarrassment as she tantrum-ed her way through a crisis. One was on a crowed train in Japan (she couldnt get a seat), which I diffused by pointing out the colour of the ladys shoes she was an inch away from as she writhed and screamed on the floor of the train (they were hot pink, her favourite). The second was on a plane when she woke up 3 hours into what would have been her 12 hour night time sleep. Diffused this with cuddles and singing lullabies, sorry to all those passengers around me who had to listen to my horrid voice. Lily is still the only one who appreciates my singing. The third was when her toes got so cold at an event at the Winter Olympics that she thought they were going to fall off and was in a panic. Diffused this one by leaving and going home as there was nothing we could do there to warm her up enough.
For a two-turning-three year old I think that was pretty amazing! This was surprising to me for a few reasons. One was that we were going to be spending seven days a week and 24 hours a day together; a change from the usual as we would be minus day care and visits to the grandparents etc. This concerned me greatly as I have to admit I do love my ‘me time and thought perhaps we would get a little sick of each other.
In fact it was quite the opposite! The added time spent with us was of course just lovely for lily and she lapped up every moment of it. It was the week we got back and had to go back into our regular routine that was a challenge! It took her two weeks to get used to how things were and she wasnt happy about the decrease in mummy and daddy time. I didnt see that coming at all. We tried to be understanding and ease her into it, and we got there in the end. But there were quite a few tears and tantrums that week!
The other reason to cause me concern was the flights. Our return flight was a 20 hour journey, 18 of them on planes. Thanks to a great trick I learned from my sister-in law, Lily was fine, and as long as I was willing to forgo the movies and sleep, she happily played and explored the plane, even went to sleep for a few hours. The trick was to have a stash of unseen, new toys that I could dole out at intervals when she started to get bored. Brilliant!!! I had been carrying around a selection of little travel friendly toys such as puzzle sliders, sticker books, miniature dolls that she could dress etc and each flight I brought one out. On the last long flight it took three new toys, but I tell you, it was a saviour and I can highly recommend it as a trick for long haul travel.
Lily coped with the weekly changes very well and there was always something exciting to see or do so she barely touched the bag of toys and dolls we dragged around for the entire trip. Next time I would leave these at home, although having a little bag for her was great as it allowed her to collect little things along the way, souvenirs and tickets etc for her scrap book, which we made when we got home. This was to help her remember the trip a little better as she is still quite young.
I am so excited now to travel with Lily every year. This was my first major overseas adventure with child and I am so pleased we can enjoy travel together, as for me travelling well is a gift I can give Lily that she can use for the rest of her life.