Number 1: Getting to the Airport Early
Trying to entertain kids at the airport is never easy. Up until recently my philosophy was to arrive as late as possible to avoid the meltdowns from boredom and vending machine obsessions. That all changed when I discovered that the meltdown from missing the plane due to unplanned traffic chaos is far, far, worse. Like hoping the ground would open up and swallow me whole, worse. You can read more about that lesson here.
Number 2: The Flight Attendant
It’s not really lying to convince your kids before you get on the plane that the flight attendants have super powers and can levitate misbehaving kids from their seats and off the plane. This little stretch of the imagination is fantastic for ensuring kids take their seats, put on their seat belts and turn off Minecraft upon landing. If in doubt, statistically there’s always a bald guy somewhere on the plane, the fact that Charles Xavier is a fictional character doesn’t seem to matter.
Number 3: Accommodation
It’s always nice to travel with a few special things to make your home away from home feel comfortable. It is however advisable to avoid large Lego constructions poorly packed into checked in luggage, unless you had planned to do nothing but downloading obscure historical Lego instructions and spending till midnight reconstructing it. Not really my idea of a holiday.
To children who have limited Internet access at home having an unlimited Internet budget in your room can be a holiday in itself. Just ensure all safety protocols are set first. And the computer is in a social area. Preset tabs to educational Lego and Minecraft videos and a use good pair of headphones. And remembered to bring the timer. Nothing ruins the holiday peace more than “is it my turn yet?”
Number 5: Babysitters
If you need to squeeze in some “work” while away and your little darlings need a sitter, it’s probably best to let them know in advance any special labels that come with your kids. Telling them they’re about to take charge of three aspies and an ADHD hurricane in the lift, on the way up to the apartment, may be a bit too short notice. Although 22 floors may seem like forever to you, it’s generally not quite enough time for the panic to hit and pass. On the upside, by then it’s too late, and they can’t run away! (Thanks for staying Matt!)
Number 6: Medical Conditions
Always carry two sets of medications in case one gets lost or a bag doesn’t arrive. Or you have a few too many drinks whilst out “working” and leave them at the restaurant, which is then closed the next day. Also be sure to show your babysitter though the medications, but not as soon as they arrive. ADHD medications followed by epi-pens and an introduction to your professional level first aid kid can at times insight further panic. Sorry Larissa!
Number 7: Dressing Appropriately
If your child suffers from an inability to warm and cool their body temperature please ensure they’re dressed for the weather. Believe it or not, a long sleeved shirt and a thirty minute walk on a 25 degree sunny day can create intercostal muscle spasms in an eight year old. It can also result in having to carry said eight year old on your back two blocks through the Sydney CBD trying to find a medical center. It helps to be immune to public opinion as the expressions on the faces of other pedestrians as your son cries for an ambulance because he can’t breathe can be a little judgmental. It’s okay people, if he can cry then he can obviously still breathe! (Amateurs)
Number 8: Budget
Setting a realistic budget before you leave is important. So too educating your children that major cities with over 4 million people don’t have any Lego for sale, they sell different things, not Lego. Postcards are a great alternative and who knows, you may be able to start a new collection they can be obsessed with. Postcards are much more affordable then Lego. We went one step further and collected brochures. Brochures are free people. FREE!!!
Number 9: Holiday food
One of my favourite holiday treats is not having to cook. It’s the only time when giving your children take away more than once a week is socially acceptable. If your children’s behaviour becomes adversely affected from being allowed gluten, dairy, sugar and about 1000 preservatives, rest assured you won’t be lying when you tell the babysitter, “they’re not normally like this!”
I’m fairly easy to please. A 20 minute ferry ride or a 30 minute bath is enough to reset my relaxation dial. If it’s been a while since you’re last had a good break make sure you put time aside for you. It’s your holiday too so remember to make the most of it. And don’t think about the piles of clothes that will need to be washed when you get home. Washing stress has no place on your holiday, same goes for work, finance, and missing favourite fluffy toy stress. Leave them at home. The stress, not the favourite toy. I repeat, do not leave the favourite toy behind!
Although my three aspies only spent six days away we had a wonderful time. The real motivation for me though was as a test run for a trip I’m planning next year through Europe. Mentally I’m wavering between excited and panicked with a twinge of “what are you crazy?” I think we might need another test run first though, just to sort out a few of the issues we encountered in Sydney. Top of the list is fitness. Although my roller derby steel leg muscles were happy to climb in and out of submarines and lighthouses my three aspies’ legs weren’t so strong. So bring on the roller skating as we begin to train for our great European Adventure! I’ll let you know how we go!