I haven’t posted anything for a while. Why? Because I have been trotting around Europe with two babies in tow.
Over the last 6 weeks, we have boarded 7 planes and driven through the night from the North West (Cheshire) to north of the North (Aberdeen).
I would love to say I have now perfected the art of travelling with two infants in arms, but alas, I still have a lot to learn. There is no question that flying with one child can present its challenges, not to mention a spectrum of ascending aged offspring. However moving tiny twins from ‘A’ to ‘B’ is bloody hard work.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally adore them, but I often reminisce of flights-gone-by. Hitting the on-board bar and watching back-to-back films until the captain’s voice advised me to prepare for landing. That delicious unadulterated me time at an altitude of 40,000 feet now seems like a past life.
Perhaps you already have one baby under your wing; or toddler(s) and other, walking (cartoon watching) children. Or maybe you’re childfree and still able to bask in the inflight entertainment, complimentary peanuts and fizz. Either way, I believe you haven’t travelled until you’ve travelled with twins.
Allow me to try and explain.
Imagine you and your partner have each been handed a 10kg piglet. The piglet is yours alone to look after from 8am departure, until Midnight arrival, and you must navigate your way through a flight change in Paris, where your ability to push the piglets in a buggy will be cruelly robbed from you.
To clarify a few points:
- The piglet can not feed itself
- It cannot sit or stand unattended
- It has a very short attention span
- Two naps are ideally required (amidst a riot of activity and noise)
- It is likely to soil itself at least 4 times on route, at the most inconvenient times
- The piglet must be carried in addition to hand baggage
- Public squealing should be kept to an absolute minimum out of respect for other passengers
- Piglet trading is frowned upon
- You cannot put your piglet in the hold
Now imagine the piglets are actually tiny little people. And they cling to you with wide-eyed wonder as you carry them through an unfamiliar landscape of airports, security checks, cabin pressure and customs.
The phases of a voyage that you once sailed through with ease, now feel intensely laboured and stressful. Other parents smile knowingly at you as you fumble one-handedly with your formula-stuffed liquids bags and boarding pass; their twitching eyes and glistening upper lips revealing their own internal torture.
And the challenge of two is that there are no breaks. For either of you. There’s no room for ‘do you mind taking the baby while I eat, pee, read a chapter of Jilly Cooper’s latest…’. Oh no. In fact I have now perfected the art of using a four-foot squared toilet with a twin wedged under my armpit.
Inflight eating also presents challenges. For a start your food, cutlery, wine, water, coffee is in perfect kicking distance of the bored child on your lap. You’re forced to eat so fast you have no idea what you’re actually consuming.
“Which wine would you prefer madam, the Pouilly-Fumé or the Sancerre.”
“I couldn’t give a shit, just pour whichever’s closest.”
Plus, having up to now eaten everything Ella’s Kitchen can generate, they suddenly only want what’s on your plate. Which is all well and good until you (like us) allow them to polish off your icecream and a cherry trifle each. A word of advice. Don’t load one year old twins full of sugary desserts in close public quarters. It’s like watching two fizzing rockets take to the sky on November 5th. Except instead of exploding into a vast navy abyss, the energy is expelled in an exceptionally tight space, full of hundreds of people trying to sleep.
Now for the onboard entertainment. Where my heart once quickened at the sight of countless new movies waiting to be watched, now I just stare at the Flight Status screen, willing the remaining minutes to melt away. In the space of a year, I have gone from being entertained onboard, to being the onboard entertainer. How many objects can I find on this plane which may occupy a developing brain for a fleeting moment. How many nursery rhymes can I mutter under my breath on a 6 hour flight. How long will this fun wrestling match persist for. And how many times can I allow her to turn the reading light on and off, before half the cabin develops photosensitive epilepsy.
Finally there are the things you can’t plan for. Delayed check-in. Delayed take-offs. Delayed luggage. Not to mention a delayed hangover as your four inflight stess relieving drinks kick in upon decent.
That said, our babes have been absolute superstars. Despite subjecting them to a solid week of travel this summer, we are yet to see a single tear. They have retained a sense of humour, when we’ve lost ours. They have laughed in the face of jet lag and slept through the night as normal. And they have found delight in the most mundane onboard objects (I hope they love toothbrushes in another four years). Yes, the babies have been perfect.
The shortcomings have been ours. Like forgetting the baby carriers and being faced with sweaty buses and long walks between terminals. Too much hand luggage; mine, an unpackable sunhat, the hubs, a book and too many electronics – lol. In fact too much packing has been a running theme, checking in a collective seven suitcases, two carseats and the buggy. Of course, you need a few cute outfits, but I have since discovered they will spend most of their days half naked. Must try harder next time.
Simply put, travelling with twins is a tiring task; it’s a marathon with no medal. There are no shortcuts. But all you can do is keep your cool and ease eye-twitching with a smile .
Secure in the knowledge that you will (eventually) reach your destination.